COLUMBUS – According to Connect Ohio’s recently published report, Making Government Accessible: e-Government Usage in Ohio, nearly 3.6 million adults (47% of adult Internet users in the state) go online to do business with government offices. More than one in three Ohio Internet users (38%) go online to search for information about government services, while 31% use the Internet to apply for government services or fill out forms at government websites.
“With a large amount of government services quickly transitioning to online formats, it is encouraging to see a growing number of Ohio Internet users utilizing them,” said Stu Johnson, executive director of Connect Ohio. “Unfortunately many Ohioans are excluded from these services due to lack of available broadband services or adequate digital skills, with concentration in the most vulnerable populations that these services are intended to serve. To keep pace with the twenty-first century, it is important to ensure that all Ohioans have the skills and access to equipment in order to take advantage of these services.”
E-Government usage increases among Internet users who are veterans (52%) and adults with disabilities (51%). Altogether, this represents approximately 385,000 veterans across the state and nearly 630,000 Ohio adults with disabilities who rely on the Internet to find information and interact with the government agencies that help them on a daily basis.
Online services will only help those Ohioans who have the skills and capabilities to access broadband, yet more than 1.2 million households in Ohio still do not subscribe to home broadband. This will need to increase as a growing number of government services are becoming accessible primarily (or solely) online. Ohio ranked 23rd on its e-Government offerings (2008 Brookings Institute report), suggesting that the state has room for improvement in its online offerings.
Additional key findings from this report include:
· Over one-half of adult Ohio Internet users who have attended or graduated from college (54%) say they go online to access e-Government applications, compared to only 34% of those with no college education.
· Over one-half who report annual household incomes of $50,000 or more say they access e-Government services, which is higher than all other state income groups.
· Younger Internet users in Ohio (50% of 18-34 year olds) are more likely than their older peers (46% of ages 35 or older) to go online to search for information, apply for services, or fill out forms.
· Across the state, more than 1.2 million households still do not subscribe to home broadband service, one in eight cite lack of digital skills as leading barrier to home broadband subscription.
Connect Ohio revealed its latest research paper during the state Technology Association Meeting on July 25 in Columbus. The meeting focused on discussions around e-Government services from industry professionals from OhioMeansJobs, Ohio Business Gateway, and Ohio Benefits.