This week is European Get online week, a continent-wide campaign inspired by our very own UK campaign which happens every October. The European campaign kicks off today and runs all week, and we’re supporting it here in the UK.Taking part in the campaign got me thinking about statistics, and how the UK stacks up against its European neighbours. With the European Football Championships coming up, it might make sense to think of us in terms of a league – and we’re not doing badly. We’re 11th in the table of online European countries – and we’re ahead of the usual footballing suspects like France, Spain and Germany. However, we’re not in the finals yet, and it’s the Scandinavian countries like Norway and Sweden who look like they will be lifting the cup. No-one is really quite clear why these countries have raced ahead, but there is certainly a lot we could learn from them. For a start, there is less inequality full-stop in these countries, and this inequality filters down into other areas of life, which means more people get online.
Governments in Scandinavia are also fully committed to getting their citizens online, with Finland even declaring the internet as a human right. This is a pretty strong statement, and although our government is committed to improving broadband penetration as well as digital skills, they’ve yet to make such a strong statement in support of it. I’m pretty proud that the UK’s done so well, with around 84% of our population online. But I’m never one to rest on my laurels, and so while we’re coming together as a continent to celebrate the joys of being online, what better time to call for even greater collaboration, greater support and a harder push to ensure we can reach our Scandinavian neighbours at the top of the table – and maybe even lift the cup. We’re leading a European Treasure Hunt (online Quiz) this week on twitter, with the clues coming from @ukonlinecentres and twitter hashtag #GOW12. I’ve just checked the counter on our homepage and already more than 7,000 Europeans have got online just this morning.