Promoting digital inclusion
The way we see it, digital inclusion means that everyone in Belgium should be able to participate fully in digital society. This not only means that everyone should have access to the Internet, but also that everyone should have sufficient digital skills to use it in a responsible, safe and secure way.
We do this primarily by supporting the work of Digital For Youth, providing both manpower and resources. Digital For Youth enables us to promote the digital inclusion and digital skills of young people.
In 2022, we supported the organisation financially to the tune of 325,000 euro. We also provided assistance to various employees in the organisation in the areas of HR, communication, legal, IT and finance. Our general manager and CSR manager sat on the non-profit organisation’s governing body on behalf of DNS Belgium.
This support, both monetary and manpower, are the internal KPIs for the material topic community involvement. We have consistently achieved these KPIs in recent years. We continue to encourage our employees to support the non-profit from their area of expertise, thereby adding an aspect of social impact to their job.
In 2022, working with UCLL, we took a closer look at the impact of Digital For Youth. This impact study shows that the laptops donated by Digital For Youth via youth organisations have a significant impact on the lives of young people. But donated laptops also change a great deal for organisations working with young people, enabling them to diversify their offerings and reach a wider audience.
DNS Belgium is a member of DigitAll. DigitAll is a coalition of companies, social organisations and government agencies working to increase digital inclusion in Belgium. Together with the other organisations in the ecosystem, our aim is to bring about structural change and increase the impact this has on digital inclusion in Belgium. At the end of 2021, we signed the Digital Inclusion Charter in which we signed up to the nine commitments designed to close the digital divide.
In 2022, we focused mainly on the following commitments from the Charter:
- Examining what stands in the way of digital inclusion and developing joint programmes
- We were actively involved in creating the Digital Inclusion By Design Index. This tool aims to offer digital service providers insights into the barriers hidden within the services they provide.
- Promoting digital inclusion beyond our own organisation to increase the number of signatories to the Charter and the impact it can have.
- We did this by supporting DigitAll’s major digital inclusion campaign in the spring of 2022.
- Setting up programmes to increase trust in digital tools, increase online safety awareness and provide users with the tools they need against potential abuse.
- We did this through our cybersecurity awareness campaign aimed at elderly people and youngsters.
Accessible Internet and services
Digital inclusion also means making your website accessible to the widest possible audience. Our aim is to set a good example ourselves by publishing plain, uncomplicated language on our website and also making it WCAG-compliant. This requires constant vigilance, but our work was rewarded in 2022 with the renewal of our Anysurfer accreditation.
The way DNS Belgium sees it, digital inclusion also means that a domain name should be affordable for everyone. We therefore make every effort to offer our domain names at a low price to our registrants and communicate transparently about our charges. The KPI we defined for this is Cost Efficiency, with the aim being to keep our prices at a similar level to those in neighbouring countries.
We also extend this commitment to accessibility to our own services. We try to use clear language in all our communications. We do the same in customer support. Our Customer Support department insists on using understandable language. If you contact them, you not only receive excellent assistance, but you are also given an explanation that you can understand, without jargon and without technical complexities.
Approximately every month, the Customer Support team conducts a sampling of everyone’s cases. In doing so, colleagues rate each other based on a model created for our needs by Kalepa, a spin-off from KU Leuven. Once they have completed the model, the team is given a score for a range of aspects. And with that score, Customer Support knows which areas require improvement and where extra attention is required.
Developing digital skills
Digital awareness means that people are aware of their safety and security online, as well as of the risks involved in a digital society. We regularly publish information articles on our website dealing with topics relating to cybersecurity, safe shopping online, dealing with phishing , etc.
Each year we also run an annual campaign to promote online safety and responsible use of the Internet. In 2022, we focused specifically on elderly people, because we want to increase their knowledge of online safety and security. The campaign was created with the help of a number of organisations and associations in Flanders and Brussels, such as the Vlaamse Ouderenraad (Flemish Elderly’ Council) and the Brussels Ouderenplatform (Brussels Elderly Platform). Digital Ageing in turn ensured that the tone was right and not pedantic or discriminatory, and that the message was understandable for all older people.
We tried to get young people thinking about cybersecurity in a challenging way in 2022. Just as we did in 2021, we again sponsored the Cyber Security Challenge and came up with a number of tasks relating to DNS. The Challenge is a way of making students aware of the importance of DNS in security and of the fact that, despite their technical background and strong analytical ability, they sometimes lack sufficient knowledge about DNS.
Wherever possible, we promote fun initiatives that make young people aware of online safety or help develop their digital skills. In 2022, we showcased Hackshield on our website and social media. Hackshield is a game in which children aged between 8 and 12 act as Cyber Agents and have to protect themselves and others from cyber criminals. While doing so, they learn all kinds of things about cybersecurity and safe use of the Internet.
We also continue to raise awareness among young people about online safety and security, the dangers of cybercrime and the importance of strong passwords, etc. We do this on our own website, providing information tailored to young people.
We have defined the following KPIs for this point of our strategy:
- Digital For Youth: Supporting the organisation both financially and with manpower. This KPI was met.
- Accessibility of the website: Achieving and maintaining our WCAG 2.1 AA label. This target was also met in 2022.
- E-inclusion partnerships: Making an active contribution within the network about e-inclusion and communicating about it. This KPI was also achieved in 2022 through our contribution to the Digital Inclusion by Design Index and the Edubox on Cybersecurity, to name just two.