What is UK’s digital profile? New data from the European Commission sheds light on the state of British’ digital economy.

The 2016 edition of the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), a composite indicator that summarises relevant indicators on EU member states digital competitiveness, highlighted the strengths and weakness of the UK’ s digital scene.

The DESI considers five principal dimensions: connectivity; human capital; use of internet; integration of digital technology and digital public services.

With an overall score of 0.61 (where 0 and 1 are the minimum and maximum score), the UK ranks sixth in the European Union. Technically, it is considered a ‘lagging ahead’ country. Despite the fact that its performance is better than the EU average, the UK grows at a slower rate than the EU as whole. To re-emerge as a leading digital power, Britain needs Research and Development digital projects such as Bristol Is Open, to create the skills and experience necessary for digital leadership.



In terms of connectivity, the UK ranks sixth among EU countries with an overall score of 0.72. This dimension measures the deployment of broadband infrastructure and its quality. In this respect, the country can celebrate a 100% household coverage of fixed broadband, consistently higher than the European average. At the same time, though, a greater effort is needed to bring the superfast broadband also to rural areas.

country-profiles-the-relative-position-against-all-other-european-countries (1)

Human Capital

It is in terms of human capital that the UK shows the best results, ranking third at the European level with an overall score of 0.76. The country, which shows high rates of internet use amongst its population (90%), has seen a spectacular growth in digital skills, with almost seven in ten citizens (67%) now having sufficient digital skills to operate online.

country-profiles-the-relative-position-against-all-other-european-countries DS

Use of Internet

With a Use of Internet score of 0.54, the UK ranks eighth in the EU, in a category which accounts for the variety of activities performed by citizens online. What do British people usually do online? By far, shopping is the favourite activity, with almost nine in ten (87%) citizens buying online. Social networking (71%) and reading news online (71%) follow closely behind.


country-profiles-the-relative-position-against-all-other-european-countries (3)IU

Integration of Digital Economy and Digital Public Services

Interestingly, the United Kingdom scored its lowest results in Integration of Digital Technology and in Digital Public Services, ranking 15th and 16th, respectively. The first dimension measures the digitalisation of businesses and their exploitation of the online sales channels, whilst the second measures the impact of eGovernment.

Despite these disappointing results, the United Kingdom has emerged as the leading European country when it comes to open data, ranking first in this dimension. This is the way to follow if the country wants to climb the ranking and fully benefit from the endless possibilities unleashed by the digital revolution.


Sources: The Digital Economy & Society Index, European Commission


Photo Credits: Luke Andrew Scowen on Flickr


Simone Grassi, Bristol Is Open