Canada finishes 4th on the first Web Index
The World Wide Web Foundation, spearheaded by its Founding Director Tim Berners-Lee (also the inventor of the World Wide Web), issued its first Web Index report for 2012 in which 61 countries were evaluated on their effectiveness of using the Internet to improve people’s lives through the measurement of the Internet’s economic, political, and social impact. The Web Index employed 85 indicators to measure the web’s impact as well as the state of a country’s accessibility and infrastructure; these indicators were sub-divided into 3 groupings, including: communications and institutional infrastructure scores; web content and web use scores; and, social, economic, and political scores. Unfortunately, the Internet’s impact is still limited as only 1 in 3 people around the world use the Internet, while less than 1 in 6 people in Africa use the Internet. Not surprisingly, the Web Index rankings showed a dichotomy between developed and developing countries with 7 of the 10 bottom finishing countries based in Africa.
The Web Index concluded that high broadband prices and censorship trends are impediments to the World Wide Web’s usefulness. About 30% of countries included on the Web Index demonstrated moderate to major restrictions on accessing websites; almost 50% of the countries showed augmented threats to freedom of the press. Across the 61 countries surveyed, internet broadband connections cost almost 50% of monthly income per capita.
Amongst the top ten countries, Canada placed fourth (93.42) behind Sweden (100), the United States (97.31), and the United Kingdom (93.83), but ahead of Finland (91.88), Switzerland (90.49), New Zealand (89.15), Australia (88.44), Norway (87.76), and Ireland (87.42). (Please access the full Web Index rankings here.) Canada achieved the highest web score on social impact (including the use of social networks and the use of the web to distribute public health information) but rated lower on economic and political impact, and placed poorly on infrastructure with slow internet speeds and low cell phone subscriptions on a per capita basis.Google provided initial seed funding to get the Web Index initiative going but time and resource limits and questionable results in several instances lacking consistent, comparative data led to the inaugural Web Index comprising only 61 countries. Economist Hania Farhan, given the task of creating the Web Index, added that she hoped to include more countries in the Web Index in the future by working with other organizations with quantifiable data.