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GDS develops tools to track digital inclusion



Outcomes framework accompanied by evaluation toolkit, with online inclusion dashboard to come

The Government Digital Service (GDS) has released an ‘outcomes framework’ to help public authorities monitor their progress in digital inclusion.

Lauren Kahn, head of strategy in the GDS digital inclusion team, announced the move in a blogpost that also indicates the provision of an evaluation toolkit to track local projects, and plans for an online digital inclusion dashboard to report on UK-wide outcomes.

She says the framework has been developed as organisations have been taking their own approaches to digital inclusion and measuring progress, and this has made it difficult to compare the results of different projects and share the lessons learned. Also, activities are often measured by volume rather than value, which makes it hard to assess their impact on people’s lives.

It has three main elements. One deals with outcomes, broken down into intermediate digital then economic, health and social effects. The second is indicators for assessing whether a change is happening or an outcome being achieved.

The third provides data sources that make links between outcomes and the use of digital technology. Kahn says these are reliable and collected regularly through national surveys.

The evaluation toolkit includes guidance documents in PDF format and an Excel spreadsheet to provide a template for data entry and calculations, along with a dashboard for an overview of activities and outcomes.

The UK-wide dashboard will include data from the Office of National Statistics, Ofcom, the Oxford Internet Institute and BBC surveys.

Flexibility and consistency

Kahn says the framework provides the flexibility to support local initiatives while making it possible to compare projects and encourage consistency in their measurement. This should help to make the case for continued investment, feed into decision-making and influence the commissioning process.

“In the long run, use of comparable and impact-based metrics across projects will make it easier to share learning and best practice, and build towards a shared evidence base about what works,” Kahn says. “And, for the first time, we’ll be able to track comprehensively and robustly the progress we are making as a society in achieving digital inclusion.”

The move reflects an element of the Digital Inclusion Strategy, published in April of last year, which is aimed at getting 2.7 million more people online over a period of two years. One of its features is use data to measure performance and feed into improvements in helping people without digital skills.




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