Greater Manchester Combined Authority shares new national digital exclusion tool

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has launched a new national tool which can be used to calculate the risk of digital exclusion and identify areas in need of more support.

The Digital Exclusion Risk Index (DERI) tool, which can be used across England, Wales and Scotland, was released last week, as part of an event to mark one year since the start of the Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Agenda. According to the DERI homepage, the tool ‘visualises the risk, or likelihood, of digital exclusion’ for every Lower Layer Super Output Area (LSOA) or data zone.

The new index has been developed in alignment with Salford City Council, as local authorities look to find ways to tackle issues and challenges around inclusion and accessibility.

DERI provides each area with a digital exclusion risk score from 0 to 10, with 0 being the lowest and 10 the highest. These results are based on a three main factors – broadband access, demography and deprivation levels – which are themselves calculated and weighted using a number of indicators.

A set of data dashboards, and a guide to using them, help provide an overall view of the digital exclusion picture in three of the UK’s nations. When navigating the dashboards, it’s also possible to select and alter the score weightings of the different factors and variables, and to view the score calculation bases from a local authority, nation or Great Britain perspective.

As well as offering a section that displays the overall DERI scores for local authorities, individual dashboards for demography scores, broadband scores, and deprivation scores, can also be viewed.

The release of the tool, as well as being in line with the wider Greater Manchester Digital Inclusion Agenda, also fits alongside the region’s establishment of a Digital Inclusion Action Network earlier this year. The network aims to find ways to ‘provide all under-25s, over-75s and people that have disabilities with the technology, skills and connectivity they need to use the internet’.

At the time, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We have all seen more of our lives move online and this risks excluding those who do not have digital connectivity. Closing the digital divide now needs to become a much higher priority. The time is coming where we need to see digital connectivity as a basic human right. Without it, people will be shut out of the conversation, lose access to essential services and miss out on a whole range of opportunities.”

To access the DERI tool, visit its official website.