One year on from the start of the pandemic, many in the UK and US still face difficulties when accessing basic online services, according to new research from digital transformation agency Kin + Carta.
Nearly half (49%) of people have either struggled, or know someone else who has struggled, to gain access to one or more services over the past year because of how they are offered online. This includes vital digital resources such as healthcare, education, grocery delivery and official information relating to the pandemic.
Richard Neish, managing director at Kin + Carta Connect, says: “The upgrade cycle and planned obsolescence strategies adopted by some tech firms means that consumers using older devices won’t necessarily be able to access all the information and services they need, particularly when they are hosted through apps. It’s up to the corporate world to ensure their platforms and products are as accessible as possible – not doing so genuinely affects people’s quality of life.
“The most vulnerable segments of society, including those in the gig economy, have been priced out of access to services that have become essential during lockdown, such as grocery deliveries, healthcare and job postings.”
The additional pressures placed on domestic technology provision and broadband services have become acutely apparent when multiple family members are working and/or studying at home: four in ten (43%) households don’t have enough connected devices for parents and children to work simultaneously.
Neish concludes: “Lockdown has shown just how difficult it can be for people to adapt to working and studying from home. Nobody should have to choose between working to put food on the table and their child’s education, but this is what some people have faced.
“What we’re seeing is nothing less than data impoverishment. As long as this situation is allowed to continue, it’s at-risk groups who suffer the most. Not addressing the issue could come back to bite the tech brands, and the message from consumers is clear: three in four (74%) indicate it’s important that websites and apps should be accessible to people with different needs within their households.”