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Digital Exclusion Risk Index

Author: Oliver O'Brien, researcher and software developer at the UCL Department of Geography

This month’s map of the month looks at the Digital Exclusion Risk Index (DERI), originally produced by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to examine the relative risk of digital exclusion for local communities. The index has since been expanded to cover the whole country and can gave us insight into areas in London that may suffer increased digital exclusion as more public services move online.

The 2022 London's Poverty Profile report shows that digital poverty is likely to be intensified with the move towards more remote public care during the pandemic. The percentage of GP appointments taking place either online or via telephone almost quadrupled in London during the pandemic, and levels remain high.

Healthcare professionals and civil society have raised concerns about the impact of this on health inequalities, particularly around digital poverty. Patients in the most deprived areas are less likely to have used the website of their GP practice, and if they do, generally find this process more difficult than patients in the least deprived areas. Thy also found it more difficult to get through to their GP practice via phone, a process much harder for those experiencing literacy or language barriers.

In London, 18% of Londoners lack some basic digital skills. As London is the English region with the highest poverty rate, and the highest proportion of residents who cannot speak English well or at all, the larger rise in the proportion of GP appointments taking place remotely in the capital is likely to have made healthcare less accessible for many Londoners.

Digital poverty exacerbates and is exacerbated by other socio-economic, educational, racial, linguistic, gender and health inequalities, among which income is particularly important. 47% of offline people in the UK are part of a low income household, with 53% of those offline not being able to afford monthly broadband bills, and those with an annual income of £50,000 or more are 40% more likely to have basic digital skills than those earning less than £17,500.

DERI has been produced by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, following on from an original project by Salford City Council to examine relative risk of digital exclusion by local communities in the area. The value of the index in the wider region, and across Great Britain, was recognised by the authority, which has therefore compiled the index to cover the whole country, and regularly updated and refined its methodology.

Using DERI can give an insight into areas which may suffer increased digital exclusion as public services move online. In London's case, this is another factor to consider when looking at London's poverty and deprivation picture in general.

Digital Exclusion Risk Index: Overall Score (2021)

About the author

The Map of the Month is produced by Oliver O'Brien. Oliver is a researcher and software developer at the UCL Department of Geography, where he investigates and implementing new ways to visualise spatial data, including mapping of open demographic and socioeconomic datasets, particularly London-focused ones, using OpenLayers. In the past he’s analysed educational geodemographics, UK census data and London travel flows, and created a number of popular visualisations such as CityDashboard, the Bike Share Map and the London Tube Stats Map. Formerly a financial software programmer, he studied for an MSc in GIS at City University London, and joined UCL in 2008, working at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and in Geography. In his leisure time he contributes to the OpenStreetMap project, which aims to create a free Wikipedia-style map of the whole world, as well as competing in and organising orienteering races. He blogs at oobrien.com and co-edits mappinglondon.co.uk.