Greater Manchester Combined Authority is bringing together industry and community groups with local government to establish a Digital Inclusion Taskforce in the city-region.
The city-region has ambitions to being 100% digitally-enabled and as such, the new group will be tasked with addressing barriers to digital inclusion in Greater Manchester to close the digital divide. Analysis by the University of Liverpool found 1.2 million people in the city-region may be missing out in some way from digital opportunities, with 450,000 classed as internet non-users.
The Digital Inclusion Taskforce will meet for the first time on Thursday 10th December. Anyone with a stake in digital inclusion or who could benefit from more people in Greater Manchester being online is invited to attend and observe the meeting online, and can register via Eventbrite.
Cllr Sean Fielding, GMCA Lead for Employment, Skills and Digital said
I’m proud to announce our intention that Greater Manchester be a 100% digitally enabled city-region, a region that puts people at the heart of our plans. Access to the digital world should be a basic human right, everyone in Greater Manchester whatever their age, location, or situation, should be able to benefit from the opportunity’s digital brings.
“Young people in Greater Manchester, as part of the new Young Persons Guarantee, have identified keeping connected as a key issue that needs addressing to protect their future. This announcement from Vodafone is important in highlighting and addressing the connectivity issues that young people continue to face, getting connectivity to the students that need it most.
“I want us to continue to work with Government, industry, communities and the voluntary sector to level the digital playing field and would encourage anyone with a stake in digital inclusion, or those who benefit from our people being online, to get involved and help us shape this important agenda.”
Mo Isap, Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership Co-chair, said:
Our ambition is to become a world-leading digital city-region, but we can only achieve this by becoming fully digitally enabled. All residents and businesses have equal access to the opportunities on offer.
?“Tackling digital exclusion and promoting fair access is an enormous challenge, and one that we sometimes underestimate.?The new Digital Inclusion Taskforce reflects the spirit of collaboration that exists in Greater Manchester. Through partnerships, networks and industry organisations we’re more collaborative than we ever have been before, and this spirit must endure if we want everyone to benefit from the city-region’s strength in digital.”
Digital Inclusion forms a key part of Greater Manchester’s Covid-19 Resilience Plan and the taskforce will also support to ensure all residents can benefit from economic recovery. Following the shift to online-learning in schools and cancellation of many face-to-face services due to the coronavirus pandemic, GMCA, Virgin Media and ANS Group contributed to the Greater Manchester Technology Fund to address the gaps in support and provide over 500 digital devices to disadvantaged young people to begin addressing barriers.
In Stockport, the DigiKnow initiative has already been tacking digital inclusion in the borough, and this year saw the launch of a free lending library for residents to access digital devices.