Global IT report: UK networked unreadiness

Wednesday 13th April 2011

Publication of the Global Information Technology Report for 2010-2011 can superficially be assessed by the above image. The UK ranks 15th as it did last year, having slide from 9th place 2006-7 and 12th 20007-8. But only a gentle perusal through the actual tables, hunting the UK's position in each sector, really brings home the need for someone to pay attention to how seriously the country is slipping. The impression is that UK citizens are bright and willing, but that government attitude needs some real polish and care. Government prioritisation of ICT? UK 32nd place. Government success at ICT promotion? UK 50th place. Schools access to ICT? UK 18th place.

The NRI 2010–2011, authored  by  (L2R) Soumitra Dutta and Irene Mia, covers a record number of 138 economies from both the developed and developing world, accounting for over 98% of world GDP.

The executive summary notes that Sweden again tops the 2010–11 rankings (second time in a row) with an outstanding performance across the board. Some Nordic countries lost  ground with respect to last year, the others still among the most successful countries in the world at fully integrating new technologies in their competive strategies and using them as crucial lever for long-term growth.

Finland, Denmark, Norway, and Iceland rank among the top 20, at 3rd, 7th, 9th, and 16th, respectively. At 2nd place Singapore is stable, leading Asia and the world in networked readiness, followed by Finland (up three places from last year), Switzerland, and the United States.

Europe continues to display remarkable levels of ICT readiness, with 11 regional economies featuring
among the top 20 of the world’s best performers. Besides the Nordics and Switzerland, the Netherlands (11th), Germany (13th), Luxembourg (14th), the United Kingdom (15th), and France (20th) rank among the most networked economies worldwide.

Asia is home to some of the best performers in the world in the NRI rankings and to the countries that have proven the most dynamic over time. In particular, six economies besides Singapore feature among the top 20, namely Taiwan (6th), Korea (10th), Hong Kong (12th), Australia (17th), New Zealand (18th), and Japan (19th).

With regard to the largest Asian emerging markets, China consolidates its position at 36th after years of impressive progression in the rankings, while India loses some ground and is down five places at 48th.

Although a number of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean region post notable improvements, or consolidate achievements in networked readiness, the region as a whole continues to trail behind international best practices in leveraging ICT advances.

No Latin American or Caribbean economy appears in the top 20. Only a handful feature in the top 50: Barbados (38th), Chile (39th), Puerto Rico (43rd), Uruguay (45th), and Costa Rica (46th). While Brazil climbs five places to 56th, Mexico is stable at 78th, and Argentina drops 5 places to 96th.

The assessment of sub-Saharan Africa’s networked readiness continues to be disappointing, with the majority of the region  in the bottom half of NRI rankings, bar Mauritius (45th) and South Africa (61st).

Tunisia consolidates North Africa leadership at 35th place while all others in the region, excepting Morocco (83rd, five places up), follow a downward trend. Biggest decline is  Libya, which drops a staggering 23 places to 126th. Egypt (75th) and Algeria (117th) lose 4 places each, although both improve in score. On a more positive note, the Middle East continues to feature prominently
in rankings, four countries in the top 30, Israel (22nd), the United Arab Emirates (24th), Qatar (25th), and Bahrain (30th).

Table rankings vary interestingly
A  meander through the tables finds UK ranking 3rd for financial market sophistication after Luxembourg and Switzerland. It ranks 3rd for quality of scientific research institutions, after Israel and Switzerland and just beats the USA there. But for availability of scientists and engineers Finland, Japan Sweden and US are the top four. UK creeps in at 29, behind Germany and Costa Rica.

Hong Kong, Norway, Singapore and Sweden are top in availability of venture capital. The UK ranks at 38 just above South Africa and behind Puerto Rico, France, China, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, and Israel.

Availability of latest technologies puts UK at 15th place, after Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Israel, USA Switzerland, Austria, Netherlands, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Denmark and Canada.

UK government can take a back pat for its online service ranking at 4th slot, only lagging Korea, USA and Canada.  E-participation too (quality relevance, usefulness and willingness of government wesites to provide on line information) finds UK 4th along with New Zealand and just behind Korea, Australia, and Spain.

But, oh dear, the Burden of government regulation ranks UK into 88th place, lower than Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and Pakistan who are below the 70's. Singapore, Hong Kong SAR and Georgia are top rankers, Iceland makes 11th place, Denmark 25 and even the US is up there at 48.

Impact of ICT on basic services (China 21, US 22 but the UK down at 39 just beating Cape Verde and Egypt!  In the number of procedures required to start a business, Canada and New Zealand score top place. UK slinks along at 33 place along with USA. South Africa, France, Poland and Iceland all rank higher.

Government prioritisation of ICT finds Singapore and Qatar and Malta as top three, UK is beggarly 32nd, as ever lagging Iceland, the USA, and Portugal. Government procurement of advanced technology products has UK at 52nd place, even beaten by little Botswana! Top three are Qatar, Singapore UAE, Luxembourg and USA.

Importance of ICT to government vision of the future has us at 38th place trailing behind Sri Lanka (Arthur Clarke's influence perhaps?) Jordan and Montenegro.

UK is 13th rank for households with a personal computer, behind Korea, ahead of Switzerland. It is 12th for broadband internet subscribers (USA 18)  Denmark, Netherlands and Switzerland are top three. UK make 7th for internet users per 100 population. Iceland, Norway and Sweden are top three, USA at 15th.

We must be high with our Freedom of the Press? No. The UK is down at 18th position. Denmark is top, followed by Sweden and Norway with Germany coming in at 8th followed by Canada. Some cheer perhaps that the USA is down at 38th place, below Ghana and Kuwait and just above El Salvador.

For judicial independence UK is 8th, New Zealand is top and Germany 5th followed by Finland and Qatar and the efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes also ranks UK 8th.

Britain comes 12 for effective law making bodies, top is Singapore, Sweden and New Zealand (US at 45) and UK ranks 16 on laws relating to ICT (US is 15, Sweden and Singapore top atain. For legal frameworks for private business to challenge government action and regulations has us at 16 again, lower than Iceland, Namibia, Finland and Sweden. (US makes it into 35.)

Property rights and IP right make 17th position and 12th for software piracy rate (the US takes top place here, followed by Japan and Luxembourg.) UK ranks 13 for telephone lines. For mobile network coverage rate we ranked at 33 behind Spain and Poland, with Bahrain, Chile and Croatia taking the top three slots. (USA is 40th)

Secure internet servers top is Iceland, then Netherland and the USA. UK is at 13th place (2008 figure) behind Korea, Canada and Malta. Internet national bandwidth we have 7th slot after Luxembourg, HongKong, Singapore, Netherland, Iceland and Sweden.

We're getting really good on social networks through and we rank 3rd there behind Iceland and Sweden, but way ahead of the USA at 12th place. We make 6th in extent of Internet use (beating USA at 7th) but again Sweden, Estonia and Korea take top three.

National patent applications UK 10th rank, but Taiwan, Korea and Japan are top three and USA gets 4th slot, Germany, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark and Austria all leading us. And we only make 22 in international patent cooperation treaty applications

We're a shabby 33 in electricity production,  Iceland and Norway lead with USA at 9th. Gross tertiary education enrollment rates UK at 35th place, Korea and Finland and Greece making top three places.

Accessability of digital content puts us 10th, Iceland, Switzerland and Sweden are tops. We do make 16th for high tech exports, lagging France and Japan with Philippines and Malta top of the list  And the impact of ICT on new products and services gives us 6th place.

We are woefully at 55 for local availability of specialised research and training services, top three Switzerland, Germany and Sweden with the USA at 10th place. We are lagging at 28th for the quality of our education systems meeting needs of a competitive economy, Singapore, Switzerland and Iceland taking the top three places.

Internet access at schools finds us only at 18th place behind the USA, Norway, Austria and Malta. Naturally  Iceland Estonia and Sweden are the top three.

Our mobile cellular tarifs have us at 60th place after Vietnam and Guyana. Our fixed telephone tarif is 96 behind Australia and just ahead of Croatia. Top three here Azerbaijan, Barbados and Canada. For broadband and internet we log into 28th  behind Malta, and just ahead of Tunisia and Mexico. Israel is top and USA 12th

In business UK is 21 for level of technology absorption (Iceland and Sweden are 1 and 2, USA 11) Capacity for innovation puts us at 15, Germany, Japan and Sweden taking top place and the USA at 6th.

Quite a lot for the technology community, especially government, to brood on here. Wonder what the UK statistics would be for government and civil service downloads of the report, as compared to other global government downloads?

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