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The National Digital Program of the Government of Israel

Improve Digital Literacy in the Geographic and Social Periphery

Digital literacy describes the various technical skills for working with computers and using the Internet needed to function in everyday life and in the modern employment market. This literacy is divided into two levels: basic and advanced. 

Basic digital literacy includes: use of the computer and the Internet, searching for information, finding employment through digital channels, using email and social media, use of government services, self-learning competencies and using office applications.
Advanced digital literacy includes competencies such as information processing and research, online consumption and online banking.

 As part of the “digital divide” in Israel, segments of the population from the geographic and social periphery suffer from less access to advanced infrastructures and end-user equipment, and from a lack of digital and technological skills[25].

The half of the population that does not use the Internet at all belongs to the Jewish ultra-orthodox and the Israeli Arab sectors.  Additionally, about half the elderly population is not digitally literate[26]. These populations are the focus of the activities of the Ministry for Social Equality. Furthermore, in Israel there is a strong link between lack of digital literacy and certain segments of the population (the Jewish ultra-orthodox and Arab Israeli sectors, those 55+ years of age and those with low incomes)[27]. These groups may find themselves excluded from receiving quality and online government services and from access to information, limiting their engaging with suppliers, service providers and employers, impairing their ability to make informed purchases online and to acquire tools suited for the modern employment market.  

Concomitantly, to enable the citizens of Israel to fully benefit from the advantages of digitization, it is necessary to ensure that the population as a whole will be able to acquire advanced literacy skills, among them competencies for conducting research and information processing, online purchases and online banking.

photo: Population segments that do not use the Internet by sectors, ages 20+ years, 2014

The Digital Israel Bureau, in cooperation with government offices and other entities, is responsible for formulating and leading a strategic national program fully dedicated to advancing digital literacy in Israeli society, with an emphasis on the periphery and weakened populations.

photo: Percentage Of Persons With Basic And Advanced Digital Literacy In The Adult Population, 2014

”Digital Communities” – Narrowing Digital Gaps among Populations in the Social and Geographic Periphery

As part of the “Digital Communities” project, digital literacy training is planned in various cities and towns, with a variety of programs offered in each locale in the aim of raising awareness and teaching computer and internet use. The programs will be operated concurrently and will be inter-related, harnessing all relevant government and community entities in the locale – local government, non-profit organizations and business entities, and leveraging existing infrastructures in the locale for the benefit of the program.

The programs will be based on leveraging existing infrastructures – study programs, centers with computers, instructors and contact with the local government, while using innovative means such as blended-learning courses on the National Platform for Online Learning.

Provide Distance Public Goods and Services

Residents of the periphery do not enjoy equal access to quality public goods and services compared to stronger segments of the population in the center of the country. 

Quality public services and goods such as education, health and social welfare are less accessible the greater the distance from the center of the country. In today’s digital world, geographic distance cannot be an excuse for social inequality. Thus, for example, advanced technology for remote learning can provide relatively weak schools access to the highest quality teachers; remote health services can provide patients access to specialists in a variety of fields and medical examinations and tests close to home, reducing emergency room and hospital overload; and remote social services can bridge distance gaps and facilitate the provision of customized services.

The National Initiative will include initiatives for providing remote public goods and services so that those living in the geographic and social periphery of Israel will enjoy equal access to quality public goods and services.

(headed by the Ministry of Health)

A national telemedicine infrastructure is planned, providing access to remote quality medical services and medical consultation via video conferencing.
Telemedicine will enable the provision of improved service and shortened appointment waiting times, making quality medicine accessible to the periphery.
Furthermore, in the aim of incentivizing the health funds to provide remote medical services, the Ministry of Health plans to define specific support criteria for these services.


Develop Employment and Businesses in the Geographic and Social Periphery

There are significant income disparities between the center and periphery in Israel[28], and the high-tech industry is concentrated in very few areas of the country. The absence of quality employment opportunities in the periphery leads to the migration of quality segments of the population to the center. In order to bring Israeli technological growth and innovation to other areas of the country, R&D centers must be established, and incentives offered, to high-tech companies that move to the periphery. Furthermore, industry anchors such as cyber or telemedicine must be created to strengthen and expand academic activity. It is also vital to advance the pursuit of technological professions among pupils and students from the geographical and social periphery, and in doing so to improve their ability to become integrated into the ICT industry and the employment market, and increase the professional labor force in the periphery needed to advance digital businesses and industries. The Council for Higher Education of Israel (CHE) and the Planning and Budgeting Committee (PBC) within the CHE act within the framework of the multi-year program to promote the technological education programs relevant for the labor market among students, particularly from the periphery.

Digital tools can also be used to promote an even more extensive development policy in the periphery. Thus, for example, use of advanced BI (Business Intelligence) systems and advanced tools for information-based decision-making will enable the efficient and smart development of dedicated industrial zones. Furthermore, SMEs in the periphery can use e-commerce to offer their goods to potential consumers throughout the country and the world, overcoming distance gaps and narrowing opportunity gaps.

Establish Digital Innovation Centers in the Geographic And Social Periphery
(in cooperation with the Ministry of Science and Technology and Space) 

Innovation centers are planned to develop innovation throughout the country, primarily in  cities in the geographic and social periphery, in the aim of narrowing the technological gap and developing the community through technological experiences.

The centers are planned to help develop innovation throughout the country, mainly in cities in the geographic and social periphery, in the aim of narrowing the technological gap and developing the community through technological experiences.

The centers serve as incubators for accelerating local startup companies, as a space for innovation events (e.g. hackathons, meetings and competitions), and as a meeting place for all ages - adolescents, adults and the elderly – where they will be able to experience using varied and advanced digital tools.