Ofcom Scotland Stakeholder Event

I attended the Ofcom Scotland Stakeholder Event on Tuesday 15th September 2015. It was an interesting seminar with a wide and varied audience, but the focus was primarily on digital participation amongst the general population in Scotland compared with the UK.

James Thickett and Vicki Nash from Ofcom presented some interesting data from the annual Communications Marketing Report (CMR); highlights included:

64% of adults (over the age of 16) have a smart phone; smartphones have overtaken laptops as the most used device for getting online

  • In 2011 – 23% of adults (in Scotland) were connected

In 2015 – 73% of adults (in Scotland were connected

  • Glasgow was used as an example for additional statistics; there was no increase in general connectivity; however there was a big increase in the use of smartphones to go online. There was discussion as to whether this was largely due to the Glasgow city-wide free wifi, piloted by Glasgow City Council recently.
  • There has been a steady increase in smartphone use across all age groups; the smartphone is the ONLY method of going online for 12% of Glasgow households

Chris Yui from Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) highlighted the work they have been doing regarding digital participation; they have been working to increase learner’s knowledge in 5 key areas:

The search engine – what it is, what it does, how to access and use it effectively; why they are so important in searching for information online

  1. Communication – different ways to communicate electronically using various platforms and on multiple devices
  2. Transactions – carrying out different types of transaction online, eg banking/financial, renewing contracts, applying for jobs etc
  3. Solve problems – how to identify problems, troubleshooting, identifying solutions etc; staying safe and keeping information secure online
  4. Create and share digital content – from simple online blogging, social networking and emailing to creating more complex documents and sharing them in an appropriate way

Chris intimated that one in five adults do not have these basic skills. It has also been noted that people using Apps on mobile phones cannot always translate these skills to internet use on other devices, or using ‘normal’ programs. These are areas SCVO hope to help address in Scotland.

The final speaker was Alistair Brown from Scottish Television (STV); he spoke around the data of television, radio and audio-visual usage throughout the STV area. Highlights for 2014 were the STV coverage of the Independence Referendum, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games which were held in Glasgow. Record audiences tuned in during these events, but the overall picture shows that fewer people are watching ‘live’ TV and are instead turning to ‘streaming’ programs such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Player to watch programmes at a time that more suits their own personal schedules.

Alistair commented that Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) (including Freeview) and satellite television remained the most widely used platforms in Scotland; satellite TV was more popular in rural areas, where cable services were more popular in urban areas. There is a small increase in households with Freeview since 2014 but no significant change for any other type of TV service.

During the Q&A/Plenary session some interesting facts were raised:

There is a clear 50/50 split between customers using mobile networks and those using wifi to access the internet on smartphones

  • However this figure changes to 80/20 for those using tablets with 80% using wifi
  • Organisations such as CAB Scotland are working with customers to help them use mobile devices for everyday tasks such as applying for jobs
  • Local authorities throughout Scotland are putting ‘assisted digital’ process/services in place in response to the Scottish Government’s digital participation charter

Overall, it was a very interesting and informative event; it is very encouraging to see how many organisations are committed to improving or enhancing digital participation in Scotland.

1 Comment

Gill Stewart

This is a fantastic increase in those that are connected – first step. Then we need to get everyone confident in basic use – sounds like a good example from SCVO of the development of digital literacies.


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