A thought provoking piece on digital services and the need to tackle the likely inequities associated with their roll out this article tells us:

Digital technologies can be valuable tools to improve public services and reduce health and social inequalities, but should not be adopted as “fashion trends” that leave some people behind.

While new technologies like chatbots or artificial intelligence (AI) get a lot of attention, experts at a recent Guardian roundtable event, supported by DXC Technology, agreed digital services should be adopted only when they can genuinely make systems more efficient for staff or end users.

It’s also vital to ensure digital improvements benefit vulnerable groups, and there should be a range of ways to access public services, rather than simply switching to digital-by-default, agreed the panel. In 2018 there were still 5.3 million adults in the UK who were digitally excluded because they lack internet access or have low levels of digital literacy, including people from low-income groups, the elderly, and those living in rural communities.

“Before we even get to the technical barriers there are access barriers as a direct result of poverty or low income,” said Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust. “[Digital public services] shouldn’t be just another thing people are excluded from.”

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