Technology and social isolation: It’s a problem, says Sarah Webb, but there are solutions.
As companies seek to embrace next-generation technologies to improve customer experience and simplify internal processes, you should be aware that undesirable side effects may arise. In particular, specific sectors of society may be subject to exclusion from the digital society. But this issue can be avoided. One of the main ways to address the problem of technology and social isolation is to have companies, government and the public widely adopt a “first-come, first-digit” policy of access and recognition, to avoid companies “unwittingly” isolating some customers,
So, who is vulnerable to the social isolation of technology?
A socioeconomic individual can be a key indicator. In the Callsign 2018 user authentication report, when asked about online self-identification preferences, ABC1 found it more likely to use e-mail at work, check account balances, and conduct online transactions than C2DE. As a result, concerns have been raised about individuals from low socio-economic strata suffering from the social isolation of technology and are likely to be disadvantaged by the lack of “appropriate equipment for the use of important online services”. People with lower incomes may not be able to afford smartphones and home broadband if they are living in temporary or unstable housing because of the housing crisis that has exacerbated the situation. In addition, libraries are closed all over the country with access to the Internet at a fast pace or limited working hours, limiting access to the Internet for all.
The site can be another factor to consider. In fact, the latest OFCOM report indicates that rural households and businesses are disadvantaged because they are very far from local exchanges that provide high speeds in broadband. By comparison, 17% of households do not receive enough internet access to 2% in cities and towns. As a result, customers living in suburban or rural areas face a greater loss of access to online services. The Internet can be too slow for certain functions to work or not fast enough to load some websites.
2018 ONS statistics on UK Internet use indicate that 90% of adults in the UK used the Internet in the last three months. However, the study shows that only 44% of adults aged 75 and over are regular users. Moreover, 20% of disabled adults never used the Internet in 2018. These statistics show that elderly and disabled people can be prevented from receiving the best customer service and access to a full range of products. These individuals must be able to access permanent contact if necessary so that they are not excluded from our digital community.
Technology and social isolation: smartphones
Growth in smartphone ownership has accelerated the spread of online services. For example, Starling, the fintech competition company, operates only at the application level and provides cheap and efficient services. However, the Global Mobile Consumer Survey of Deloitte in 2018 found that only 77% of people aged 55-75 had a smartphone, meaning that a quarter of the older population might be excluded. Moreover, in general, older demographics are less able to use some smart devices. As a result, various barriers prevent older persons from accessing and using all the services they may need.
It is clear that social-technological isolation prevents some users from accessing services because virtual authentication methods are not appropriate for them. Fortunately, we are beginning to see a global recognition of the importance of digital identity. WIN has partnered with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to establish a platform for good digital identity. Through this platform, they demand digital identities to satisfy at least five criteria to be implemented; they are suitable for the purpose, comprehensive, useful, safe and provide options for individuals, which must take steps towards limiting the issues being discussed.
One approach is to include technology that includes everyone, improving customer satisfaction, reducing fraud and maintaining high levels of security at the same time. Emphasis on identity has an important role to play, but identification must be relatively free of friction so that all populations can easily access the online services they require.