Digital Inequalities and long tail challenges

29 Mar

Way back in the 1950’s the long slog of completing the great UK-wide changeover from AC to DC electricity was at last completed.   It was of no great surprise that the last houses to be welcomed into that modern era were in the poorest and must run-down areas of of our cities.

In the 1970’s North Sea Gas conversions were still edging their way towards completion – and as with all such great infrastructure projects it was only with conversion of the remote ends of the network that the full benefits could be realised.   Such is the nature of long term investments.  Short-term patches and temporary fixes do not answer.

Right now, with the transformation of the entire economy, we are only beginning to understand the length of the long tail – a challenge that does not have a clear beginning and end because the pace of digital developments often runs faster than our efforts to catch up.

The report from the National Audit Office on the UK government’s ‘Digital by Default’ design for public services is a timely reminder that we have a long way to go – particularly for those who are most in need of public services.

This story will, inevitably, run and run.

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