Headlines: December 6th, 2000

The results of a survey published by KPMG Consulting reveal that although the Internet is an ideal way for public service organisations to communicate with pensioners, only 11 per cent of the older people surveyed had considered this as a potential use of the Internet. The report, Silver Surfers: the power of older people online, highlights the need for public service organisations to target Britain’s over-60s if the government is to meet its objective of enabling universal online access to public services by 2005.Citizens of pensionable age represent about 18 % of the population and the results of the survey demonstrate the keen interest in using the Internet. Almost 70% who do use the Internet do so to keep in contact with friends and family through email. Almost half the users are using it for education and hobbies and 35% for holidays and leisure services.

For most pensioners, the main reason for not using the Internet was lack of access – 58% did not have a computer. Another reason was a perceived lack of appropriate knowledge as 36% felt they didn’t understand it, although only 2% felt they were too old. Only 17% felt that the Internet was exclusively the preserve of the young.

Another survey, IT Trends, looked at the provider side of the picture and found that most local councils had devised strategies for developing e-government. The worrying aspect was that it found that chief officers and members have a “patchy or poor” understanding of the e-government proposals in 75% of councils.

The survey, which was carried out by the Society of Information Technology Management, also revealed a lukewarm interest in e-government in some quarters. Only one third of councils have appointed a senior official as e-champion to oversee the implementation and some 40% of councils believe that the e-champion will spend only one half day per week on the task.