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UK relegated to fourth place in UN e–government survey

The UK has dropped from first to fourth in the United Nations’ ranking on e-governments across the world, falling behind Denmark, Australia and South Korea

The UK has placed fourth in the United Nations ‘(UN) 2018 e-government ranking, losing its number one position in the previous survey.

The UN e-government development index places the UK behind Denmark in first place, Australia in second and South Korea in third.

The UK scored 0.899, compared to Denmark’s 0.915, and behind the UK in the top 10 are Sweden, Finland, Singapore, New Zealand, France and Japan.

The scores are based on a “holistic view” of e-government, taking into account telecommunication and infrastructure, the ability “of human resources to promote and use” technologies, and available online services and content.  

The UN survey said the UK’s drop from first in 2016 to fourth in 2018 was due to a “relative decrease in the ranking of its human capital and online service indices”, adding that the UK government is continuing to provide more integrated online services” through Gov.uk.

When it comes to e-participation, which is defined as “the process of engaging citizens through ICTs in policy, decision making, and service design and delivery so as to make it participatory, inclusive and deliberative”, the UK ranks joint-fifth, sharing the spot with Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Spain and the US, all of which had a score of 0.983.

The UK failed to make it into the top 10 countries “with the highest commitment to cyber security”; however, the UN highlighted the UK government’s work on its cyber security strategy.

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The UN also highlighted individual cities, having completed a pilot study in 40 different places across the globe, looking at how local government tackles e-governance. 

Here, London ranked joint-fourth together with Paris, beaten by Moscow in first place, with Cape Town and Tallinn right behind.  

The scores are based on the technicality and content of the websites, the digital services provided by the cities and e-participation initiatives.

The UN survey said the biggest barrier to digital government is insufficient training, accessibility and e-illiteracy, and highlighted the need for trust between citizens and government, as well as the importance of digital skills training.

Overall, the UN survey found that the most common online services used in governments across the world in 2018 are tax submissions, online business registrations and utilities payments.

“Service availability through emails, feed updates, mobile apps and SMS has doubled globally, especially in the health and education sectors,” the survey said, adding that globally, 176 countries now provide online services in education via email alerts, compared with 88 in the previous 2016 survey.

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