IGF 2019 WS #76 Fresh approaches to measuring digital inclusion

Organizer 1: Lena Nitsche, DW Akademie
Organizer 2: Flavia Fascendini, APC
Organizer 3: Leidel Steffen, Deutsche Welle Academy

Speaker 1: Dhanaraj Thakur, Civil Society, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 2: Helani Galpaya, Civil Society, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 3: Guilherme Canela Godoi , Intergovernmental Organization, Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC)
Speaker 4: Yiannis Theodorou, Technical Community, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 5: Koliwe Majama, Civil Society, African Group

Policy Question(s): 

What factors should be considered when assessing digital inclusion? Should technical accessibility alone determine digital inclusion? What approaches and initiatives are currently available to assess and measure digital inclusion and what improvements can be made? How can various experts and institutions collaborate more closely – inside and across sectors?

Relevance to Theme: Finding the right policy approaches to foster digital inclusion not only requires a clear definition of the concept, but also a careful understanding of the various ways of measuring digital inclusion – from the technical (measuring Internet penetration) to the socio-political (investigating people’s ability to meaningfully contribute to their societies through digital technologies and the Internet). Digital inclusion is not only about Internet access – skills, trust and the right policies must also be considered. This session invites different stakeholders from civil society, the technical community and the private sector to present their approaches to assessing digital inclusion. The session will contribute to the theme by identifying gaps in the assessment and measurement of digital inclusion, and by helping foster greater collaboration between various experts and institutions across sectors.

Relevance to Internet Governance: Digital inclusion is multifaceted – involving digital and media policy, technical aspects such as Internet accessibility and affordability; questions of digital and media literacy; and the ability of businesses to develop innovative solutions for improving widespread access to the Internet. A major component of internet governance debates is the question of how to create inclusive digital societies that enable individuals to meaningfully participate and contribute to the development of their societies – both online and offline. Given the multi-stakeholder nature of the challenge at hand, we aim to offer a space in which to bring different actors involved in researching digital inclusion together in order to brainstorm new paths for future collaboration.


Round Table - U-shape - 90 Min

Description: By the end of 2019, more than half of the world’s population will be online. Access to the Internet – in particular mobile connectivity – continues to increase. Digital technologies have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives, as have discussions about how it drives societal developments. To be digitally included has become a basic requirement for societal participation and thus also for the expansion of social justice and societal inclusion. However, internet access alone is not enough to foster digital inclusion; digital inclusion requires more than Internet penetration. Factors such as digital literacy and digital skills, the motivations for going online and digital rights must also be addressed.

Connecting the other half of the global population means confronting the myriad issues that come to light when assessing digital inclusion worldwide. Numerous experts, institutions and initiatives are actively highlighting Internet penetration statistics, recording human rights abuses online and researching digital skills. Research about the Internet is at heart of how we assess global problems and find specific solutions. The session will look at different approaches for capturing and measuring the trends and issues shaping the future of digital inclusion, as well as identifying avenues and intersections for closer collaboration between experts and institutions.

Digital inclusion encompasses a broad range of issues that are also central to many of the discussions surrounding Internet Governance. How can we create fair and affordable Internet access for everyone? How can we equip people with the necessary impetus and skills to fully embrace the potential of the Internet to change their lives for the better? Which human rights need to be strengthened, as a necessary precursor for widespread digital inclusion? The variety of issues is probably too multifaceted for a one size fits all approach to capturing digital inclusion. Nonetheless, what aspects are missing, and how can various initiatives collaborate more closely?

In the first part of the session, we invite experts and institutions active in measuring digital inclusion, focusing either on a specific aspect or a specific method, to briefly present their approach to the participants. The goal is to involve the audience from the very beginning: After the initial presentations, participants will be asked to reflect on the statements made by the panelists, and to share their views and ideas on any aspects missing from existing approaches. The second part of the session focuses on identifying areas for collaboration between various institutions and experts working on measuring digital inclusion. Here, the audience is also invited to take part in the exercise to further encourage new avenues for collaboration.

Expected Outcomes: The session aims to collect different approaches for measuring digital inclusion. In so doing, panelists and participants will be encouraged to assess gaps in the current research and praxis on the issue. The goal of the discussion is also to identify possible areas for collaboration between various experts and institutions in order to interconnect different approaches and methods already in use.

Onsite Moderator: 

Lena Nitsche, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator: 

Lena Nitsche, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Lena Nitsche, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Discussion Facilitation: 

The roundtable seating arrangement will ensure that the panelists and participants feel encouraged to interact with each other – for example by means of a roundtable arrangement. A sufficient number of microphones will be available for the moderator, the panelists and participants to interact. The chosen moderator has a great deal of experience as a facilitator and will maintain the dialogue between participants and panelists throughout the session. In order to achieve the workshop outcome, the session plan includes enough time for participation and discussion. In a fishbowl like setup, incoming participants are able to be included into the conversation. As well, a remote moderator will also feed in comments and questions from the remote audience.

Online Participation: 

The IGF WebEx Tool will be made available to remote participants. The online moderator will make sure to bring questions and comments by remote participants to the roundtable discussion by notifying the moderator on-site.

Proposed Additional Tools: Social media channels by the organizers will be used to encourage participation and also to encourage to built alliances for digital inclusion research after the discussion.


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