How we help new users from here: economy, education, ecosystem
Countering the impact of the virus by helping new users through and beyond COVID should be a priority for industry, governments, international organizations and nonprofits.
First, we have to make sure new users have easy-to-use tools that meet their immediate economic needs.
We recognise Google’s responsibility in this. Apps like Kormo Jobs in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia — which connects people to entry level jobs—are already playing a role helping people find work. In the coming months, we’ll be experimenting with a new Google product that can provide additional earning opportunities through crowdsourcing, recognising that for most new internet users, protecting income is the first priority.
Second, we have to increase our focus on education—helping new users better understand online information and services, and adapt to deeper changes like the rise of online education.
Grassroots, nonprofit-led literacy initiatives like those Google.org is supporting in Southeast Asia are important steps in the right direction. So too are the Google News Initiative’s partnerships throughout Latin America, and Grow with Google’s global programs like Be Internet Awesome, which promotes online safety and confidence for kids. It’s critical that we build on these programs in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Third, we have to keep building a supportive ecosystem around new users. We should aspire for every organization that owns or builds technology to prioritize inclusion.
Too often, the responsibility for helping new users get online falls to ‘informal teachers’, the friends and family around them. Initiatives like the Design Toolkit for Digital Confidence show how we can begin to change that, equipping technology-makers to build tools that are intuitive for everyone, no matter what their circumstances.
Finally, we have to keep advancing the work that led Google to create the NBU initiative in 2015: ensuring the internet and the devices and the tools it supports are helpful and accessible to more people, in more languages and more ways (including for those living with disabilities).
COVID-19 is a challenge for everyone, and it’s hitting new internet users especially hard. But if governments, businesses and civil society organizations work together, we can and should make the internet better and more inclusive in the post-COVID world, for the billions online today, and the next billion to come.