Steph Elliot: Digital inclusion

Steph Elliot: Digital inclusion

Steph Elliot

In this month’s SFHA TECH column, Steph Elliot considers digital inclusion and what it means for the social housing sector.

With the Analogue to Digital telephone switch off on its way, it is important for landlords to consider the impact the switch off will have on their tenants, how will services be delivered and how will they be received?

The social housing sector plays a significant role when it comes to digital inclusion and in making sure no one gets left behind by providing over 600,000 homes to over a million people. Numerous research has shown social housing tenants are more likely to experience greater unemployment, fuel poverty and now digital exclusion.

As we know, call signals are beginning to be carried over the internet in data packets, replacing existing landlines. The internet is becoming essential to accessing the latest and most accurate information; registering for services; and attending a variety of appointments. The pandemic showed us we can stay connected and maintain meaningful connections online but for those who do not enjoy use the internet or have access to technology/devices they are excluded from this new digital world. We have a fantastic opportunity with digital to redesign our services that really consider who may become more isolated because of changes we make, and we can implement them knowing who our tenants are and what they need.

Digital inclusion encompasses areas like Digital skills: being able to use and navigate devices and digital platforms. Connectivity: having access to the internet through wi-fi, broadband and or mobile internet i.e., 4g and 5g and Accessibility: ensuring service redesign is person centred and accounts for barriers to digital inclusion. Improving Digital inclusion levels will continue to be a challenge for us as a sector and as a nation, but with cross working and sharing lived and learned experiences we can make sure no one is left behind.

The TEC housing programme wants to showcase the amazing efforts already being made across housing and will continue to support innovations and projects that tackle social and digital exclusion. If you or your organisation are keen to find out more or are already undertaking digital inclusion work, we would love to hear from you.

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