The study ‟(N)ONLINER Atlas 2011‟ by ‟Initiative D21‟ shows that the number of NONLINER (“non-users of the Internet “) in Germany is slowly declining (27% 2009 | 24% 2010 | 22% 2011).
A closer look and comparison within Europe confirms this positive trend.
With the exception of the northern European countries, Germany is among the leaders in the EU in Internet usage. In this context the European north-south divide, also familiar from the economic perspective, becomes evident. Southern Europe still has to reach the Internet age.
The introduction to the study by Hannes Schwaderer (COE of Intel GmbH and president of Initiative D21) at least indirectly confirms the linkage: ‟Digital infrastructure has meanwhile developed into a major component for the success of a national economy and the continued development of society‟.
However, when comparing these numbers with the findings of the ‟eGovernment-MONITOR‟ study, it becomes evident that Internet usage is not directly comparable to usage of eGovernment services. Even Sweden, which with 91 % Internet usage is one of the leading countries in this regard, ‟only‟ reaches 69 % ‟eGovernment customers“. The ratio in Germany is similar: out of 80 % Internet users, some 40% make use of eGovernment services.
This shows that although the trend towards Internet usage is unstoppable, there is still significant scope for efforts to improve citizens’ and companies’ acceptance of eGovernment.
And the need to act is becoming increasingly urgent: 97.7 % of German students are Internet users. In parallel with this, the number of Smartphones with Internet access has doubled since 2009 – and current sales figures indicate a further boom. The generation of ‟Digital natives‟ will sooner or later demand online solutions for nearly all situations in life – including administration.
Hence it is high time to start working on solutions and on and helping to accelerate acceptance, in order to modernize the administration and boost eGovernment usage.
If, in addition to citizens and companies, governmental administrations also wish to profit from eGovernment, concrete action is required!
A project by the Chamber of Commerce/WIFI Upper Austria, where 500 online users registered within the first month, demonstrated that eService /eGovernment offers are in demand. Initiatives such as ‟Apps4Deutschland ‟ are further proof that the need was recognized.
Currently, however, the topic by no means sells itself – that will require large investments in terms of intelligence, time and money, as well as improvements in basic infrastructures.