Area of residence, employment and education, the challenges for the digital divide

18/02/2016 14:56 h

Marta Montal

Commissioned by City Council, the Mobile World Capital Barcelona initiative has put together a report on the digital divide in the city. The aim is to identify the least digitalised groups in order to be able to draft and extend inclusive policies to help them.

Technology needs to be democratised. It’s a tool for cohesion, professional training and relationships between people”, explained the First Deputy Mayor, Gerardo Pisarello. The main aim of the report is to reduce the digital divide and improve access and use of the internet so everyone can benefit. “We need to educate and accompany people, particularly the elderly, as well as adapting work plans in the neighbourhoods”, added Pisarello.

The report concludes that citizens in Barcelona are extensively connected. Some 90% of Barcelona residents have used the internet in the last 3 months and over 85% do so on a daily basis. Some 84% of the city’s population have internet at home and 76% access the web using mobile phones. The figures put connectivity, frequency and internet use above the European average.

Factors in the digital divide

Educational backgrounds, age, employment and the level of income in the local neighbourhood are the variables which determine the digital divide. The level of income in the neighbourhood is a key variable, even more relevant when combined with other factors. Home internet access varies by as much as 34% depending on incomes in different residential areas. In the Les Corts district, 96% of homes have an internet connection, compared to 62% in the Torre Baró neighbourhood. Mobile internet use shows an even greater disparity of up to 40%. In the Dreta de l’Eixample, 94% of residents connect, compared to 55% in Torre Baró.

In terms of employment, students and workers are those who connect most, while retired people and those who do domestic work connect least. As for users’ educational backgrounds, nine out of ten people with standard academic backgrounds or higher education qualifications access the internet daily, as opposed to six out of ten with more basic educational backgrounds.

The age variable shows that up to the age of 64, seven out of ten Barcelona residents have a smartphone, while among those aged between 65 and 74 only half have one. The report also concludes that gender and nationality are not determining factors in internet use.

The data and the methodology for the report have been made available to everyone with the idea that other cities can also evaluate and improve access to the internet. The report is available here.