Digitization is a worldwide trend that has swiftly transformed our daily lives and will continue to do so. Digitization is everywhere: in education, at work, in healthcare. In a short period of time, many of the things we do, have become digital. At the same time, new services came about, like WhatsApp, Uber and Airbnb. Digitization accelerates processes, brings people closer together and makes our life easier. Most of all, digitization provides opportunities, in our view.
The foundations of digitization are formed by the digital infrastructure in the Netherlands. The fixed and mobile networks in the Netherlands are ranked among the very best worldwide. In 2018, VodafoneZiggo launched its campaign ‘Network of the Future’. In it, we draw attention to all the things our technology enables, now and in the years to come. Our mobile network is being prepared for 5G and our fixed cable network will be upgraded to Gigabit speeds. With higher speeds and more capacity, more will become possible. Think of a virtual visit to your GP from home, or of a virtual meeting. We see digitization and the technology as tools to make our cities and villages more liveable.
In the autumn of 2017, during the Digitization Debate, VodafoneZiggo called on the government to come up with a digital strategy and to organize a Digitization Summit. In June 2018, the government published its digitization strategy ‘The Netherlands Digital’. In March 2019, the government will hold a conference under the same name with a Summit on 21 March as the closing event. VodafoneZiggo welcomes these initiatives and partners with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy to come up with a more detailed elaboration and concrete actions. VodafoneZiggo also works with the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations with regard to digitizing the government and digital skills for everybody.
VodafoneZiggo wants to ensure that as many people as possible can keep up with the digital world. To that end we develop programmes that will teach the various target groups the digital skills that our society requires. In this, we focus on children, teachers, families and senior citizens, among others.
We are a member of ‘Samen Digiwijzer’, a collaborative project of a great many parties that support schools and the authorities in teaching digital skills to children. We offer schools the free interactive teaching programme Online Masters. This helps teachers strengthen the digital skills of their pupils. During the annual week of media literacy in November, hundreds of colleagues give Online Masters guest lectures at schools in order to teach children how to use the internet in a safe, skilled and conscious way.
Furthermore, each month VodafoneZiggo organizes Experience Days at various office locations. Young people from socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods are familiarized with technology and are given an inside view of VodafoneZiggo. In the Experience Center in Utrecht, we offer schools and other visitors a Digital Life Experience. And finally, we are a partner of the Technology Pact, aiming to improve the alignment of education and employment in the technology sector.
To support parents in their media education, we launched a game in 2019, that teaches parents and children together how to navigate the digital world safely and consciously. We also encourage them to discuss the digital opportunities and dangers with each other.
We notice that the substantial group of senior citizens in the Netherlands is becoming more digitally skilled, but part of this group struggles with society’s increased digitization. In 2019, we initiated the teaching programme 'Welcome Online', aimed at people who have never or rarely been online. Quite often these are people aged 65 and over. In the programme they receive help from students, children, grandchildren, volunteers or other people in their environment.