Meld. St. 23 (2012-2013)

Digital Agenda for Norway — Meld. St. 23 (2012–2013) Report to the Storting (white paper)

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Part 1
Norway online

2 Digital participation by everyone

Figure 2.1 

Figure 2.1

A growing number of areas in Norwegian society are based on the premise that its citizens are online. Consequently, if you are not online, you will often feel excluded from society. In Norway, most citizens participate in the digital society and use the internet regularly. This is an advantage for both individual citizens and society. There are, however, individuals who for various reasons are not online. The Government wants to help everyone wishing to use the internet to have the opportunity to do so. This white paper therefore outlines clear goals for digital participation by everyone.

Widespread digital participation is important not only for individuals; it also represents a competitive advantage. If a large proportion of the population is online, the market for digital offerings can grow and thus make Norway an attractive market for digital goods and services. It would also give Norway a head start in offering digital goods and services that would be unprofitable to offer in markets with lower levels of digital participation. An active policy on digital participation is therefore crucial for ensuring that ICT can contribute towards value creation and growth in society. Compared to other markets, Norway’s level of digital participation is high, and we are well placed to capitalise on this advantage.

The Government’s goals for digital participation are:

  • Everyone who wishes to use digital tools and services should be able do so.

  • Provisions will be made to ensure relevant training opportunities for groups that need them.

  • Within five years, the number of citizens not online will be halved, from 270,000 to 135,000.

  • The education system will provide individuals with sufficient qualifications to continue developing their digital competence and keep pace with technology developments.

  • Employees will be able to use digital tools and develop their digital skills at work.

  • The population will have sufficient skills to use the internet safely and securely.

2.1 Use of ICT by the Norwegian population

Along with Iceland, the Norwegian population has the highest level of internet usage in Europe. Norway also scores highest (along with Iceland) in terms of internet and computer skills:1as much as 86 per cent of the Norwegian population use the internet daily.2 Over 90 per cent uses the internet at least once weekly. By comparison, 68 per cent of the EU’s population use the internet weekly, though of course considerable variations exist between countries.

According to Statistics Norway, 93 per cent of Norwegian households have access3 to the internet at home;4in 2003 the figure was 55 per cent. For the EU overall (27 countries), 73 per cent of households have access to the internet at home (2011); in 2004 the figure was 41 per cent.

Figure 2.2 Internet access in households. EU and Norway

Figure 2.2 Internet access in households. EU and Norway

Source Eurostat: Information Society Statistics

Norway ranks highest in Europe and the rest of the world in terms of internet usage in several areas. For example, 86 per cent uses online banking services compared to up to 80 per cent in the other Nordic countries and 37 per cent in the EU overall. Other areas where the Norwegian population is active are in the buying of goods and services via the internet, contact with public authorities, and participation in social networks.

Figure 2.3 Internet use for different purposes, 2012

Figure 2.3 Internet use for different purposes, 2012

Source Statistics Norway: ICT usage in households. 2012, 2nd quarter

E-mail communication and web searches for goods and services are the most common types of use for 90 per cent of households. Almost as many read news online, and a growing number also uses the internet to listen to radio or watch TV.5 In all, 63 per cent used social networks. This area is characterised by a wide disparity between age groups: for example, 90 per cent of persons aged below 35 used social networks, whereas only 20 per cent aged 65–74 did likewise.6

Our lifestyles are changing. Young people aged 16–24 daily spend on average one hour 20 minutes of their leisure time on computer games and other types of computer use, and 30 minutes on socialising with friends.7From 1980 to 2010, the time spent daily on socialising by young people decreased by one hour. Face-to-face socialising is partly being replaced by social interaction via mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

2.1.1 Non-users of the internet

Approximately 3,500,000 Norwegians aged 16–79 are online, representing 93 per cent of the population. A total of approximately 270,000 persons aged 16–79 did not use the internet in the previous three months. The Government wants to halve this figure over the next five years. Through learning about the population’s digital competence and current trends, the authorities can adopt a policy that ensures that everyone who wants to can participate in the best possible way.

Digital participation is measured variously. Figure 2.4 shows how many used the internet during the previous three months. This measurement is easily obtained from responses in surveys. However, this number measures digital participation or knowledge at a rather basic level, and no distinction is made between those who used the internet only a few times and those who used it daily during that period.

The statistics reveal consistent differences between groups in terms of how many are online.


Age is the key explanatory factor for digital participation. Almost all respondents aged 16–54 (99 per cent) used the internet during the previous three months. The percentage of respondents aged 55–64 is also very high (93 per cent). Among respondents aged 65–74, 69 per cent was online. This shows a clear majority of seventy-year-olds, though far from all. It is when we come to the group aged above 75 (75–79) that the percentage of users decreases (to 47 per cent). The group over 79 is not captured by official statistics, but the percentage of internet users in this group is also small.

The differences we see today will gradually decrease because those who have become used to using the internet will likely continue to do so.

Figure 2.4 Percentage of internet users, by age and gender, 2012

Figure 2.4 Percentage of internet users, by age and gender, 2012

Source Statistics Norway: ICT usage in households. 2012, 2nd quarter

Figure 2.5 Percentage of internet users, by level of education, 2012

Figure 2.5 Percentage of internet users, by level of education, 2012

Source Statistics Norway: ICT usage in households. 2012, 2nd quarter


Education and internet use correlate. In all, 99 per cent of respondents with higher education have recently used the internet. Use among respondents with only lower-secondary education is slightly lower (86 per cent).

Employment situation

Practically all employed and student respondents used the internet during the previous three months: 98 per cent and 100 per cent, respectively. Retired respondents or recipients of social security benefits used the internet far less frequently.

Figure 2.6 Percentage of internet users, by employment situation, 2012

Figure 2.6 Percentage of internet users, by employment situation, 2012

Source Statistics Norway: ICT usage in households. 2012, 2nd quarter

Among respondents aged below 55 and excluded from working life, 4.8 per cent did not use the internet during the previous three months. By comparison, the proportion of employed and student respondents who did not use the internet during the previous three months is less than 1 per cent.

Figure 2.7 Percentage of men/women in different employment situations using the internet

Figure 2.7 Percentage of men/women in different employment situations using the internet

Source Statistics Norway: ICT usage in households. 2012, 2nd quarter


Although no notable differences in internet use exist between genders, fewer women than men excluded from working life tend to use the internet.

Income and children

In all, 98 per cent of households in Norway with a gross income above NOK 600,000 have access to the internet. The figure for households with a gross income below NOK 200,000 is 82 per cent. All (100 per cent) households with children have internet access, while the corresponding figure for households without children is 90 per cent. These statistics indicate a correlation between several explanatory factors. For example, most respondents in households with high incomes will be employed, and most adults in households with children will be young adults.8

Summary of differences

The Government wants to see digital participation by everyone. To achieve that goal, we need sound knowledge about the current situation, and the statistics on digital participation show some clear trends. In the large groups, there are few who do not use the internet.

  • Almost all employed people and students use the internet.

  • Almost everyone with higher education uses the internet.

  • Almost everyone aged below 55 uses the internet.

In total, almost 270,000 people aged 16–79 did not use the internet during the previous three months. Among these are:

  • 27,000 aged below 55

  • 38,000 aged between 55 and 64

  • 67,000 men aged above 65

  • 132,000 women aged above 65

Three quarters, approximately 200,000, of internet non-users during the previous three months are aged above 65. The remainder consists mainly of individuals excluded from working life. It is easy to become excluded and less able to participate in society if one is neither receiving education/training nor taking part in working life. Possibilities to develop one’s digital skills will also be poorer. In other words, disparities in digital skills correlate closely with social factors. More information is needed about which conditions characterise groups not online.

2.2 Digital competence

The statistics that show internet usage during the previous three months reveal only basic usage. Use of the internet once or more during a period of three months says little about actual digital competence. ‘Digital competence’ is a very broad term. The Government’s policy for digital competence should not only enable citizens to go online; it should also help them become competent users.

Digital competence entails the ability to relate to and use digital tools and media safely, critically, and creatively. It is about possessing knowledge, skills, and attitudes. It has to do with the ability to perform practical tasks and to communicate, find, and process information. Digital judgement, which entails data protection, source criticism, and cyber security, is a key component of digital competence.

Digital services are used to different degrees and in different ways, depending on a person’s life situation. People’s digital competence depends on their needs and circumstances. It should not be necessary to possess a particularly high level of competence to use the most basic and useful online services, whether they be from public or private providers. Norwegian internet users should, however, possess sufficient knowledge and capability to use digital services creatively, safely, and innovatively. Competence is not a static phenomenon; it must change as technology changes. The EU has highlighted digital competence as one of eight key skills essential for lifelong learning.9

Digital products and services are changing rapidly, and keeping track of new developments is demanding. Some find coping with increasingly advanced equipment difficult, whereas others find it an added source of motivation.

2.2.1 Digital judgement and cyber safety

Previously, internet threats were primarily associated with hackers, or with cyber criminals who illegally gained access to computer systems by cracking passwords and access codes. Today, it is far more common for users to be tricked into downloading malicious software or disclosing personal information that can be used in scams. Anti-virus programmes and firewalls can help prevent such incidents, but it is becoming increasingly important for users to be able to recognise trusted websites and senders. This requires both knowledge about what threats exist and the ability to distinguish between genuine and fake e-mail correspondence and websites. The ability to use the internet safely is often referred to as digital judgement.

Besides having sufficient knowledge, digital judgement is also about reflecting on which information about yourself and others you can publish on the internet, how to handle copyrighted material, and how to express yourself online. Social media and social networks invite users to share private pictures and information that can sometimes challenge data protection. Many who published content online have subsequently regretted doing so. Some people are unaware of the rules, while others discover that their personal details have been published online by others, intentionally or unintentionally. Developments in social media also clearly illustrate the issues associated with freedom of expression, censorship, and media regulation in general. These issues are discussed in reports submitted by the Privacy Protection Commission and the Media Responsibility Committee.10 A broader outline of data protection and cyber security has been presented to the Storting in a separate white paper.11A national cyber security strategy has also been published.12

Safety also entails being protected from media content that may be harmful to minors. Children and young people should be ensured freedom of expression and freedom of information within a framework that safeguards them against potentially harmful media content. The Norwegian Media Authority’s work to assess films aimed at persons under the age of 18, the provisions laid down in the Broadcasting Act concerning the protection of children, and Norway’s participation in the EU programme Safer Internet are all elements of such a framework.


Two of the tasks of NorSIS (Norwegian Centre for Information Security) are to raise awareness about cyber threats and vulnerabilities and to provide information on concrete initiatives. The primary target group is small and medium-sized enterprises in the public and private sectors. NorSIS should also accommodate citizens’ needs for information, as far as possible. All the material published will be made openly available.

NorSIS is also responsible for operating the deletion service ( The purpose of this service is to provide advice, guidance, and assistance to people who feel their privacy has been violated on the internet or who for other reasons want to have personal data that has been published on the internet deleted or corrected. Priority is given to vulnerable social groups, such as children and young people. In 2011, this service handled more than 6,100 enquiries concerning deletion of unwanted or offensive content published on the internet. In many cases, citizens sought help with deleting user accounts (profiles) registered with various online services.

Norwegian Media Authority

Safe use of social media for children and young people is a cross-sectoral issue. The Norwegian Media Authority is responsible for coordinating efforts in this field, in dialogue with authorities, the voluntary sector, and industry bodies. The Norwegian Media Authority has developed an action plan for children, youth and the internet,13 outlining priority areas and proposals for measures to ensure the safety of children and young people using the internet. The Norwegian Media Authority’s Online Safety Network has operative responsibility for implementing the action plan. is a website containing information, advice, and guidance on safe internet use for consumers, and small and medium-sized enterprises. It provides information on how to use e-mail, chat sites, online banking services, and social media as well as information on spam, viruses, file sharing, and internet security threats., established by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority and commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Communications, is operated in cooperation with other authorities, the ICT industry, and user representatives.

2.3 Learning arenas

Much digital competence is acquired through informal arenas and private internet use. Children and young people teach their grandparents to use online services, people ask each other for help when they have difficulty understanding something, or learn from personal experience. But to acquire more formal knowledge, or for groups where informal learning is inadequate, we need other arenas. It is therefore important to develop adequate and relevant training for those who need it.

2.3.1 Learning arenas in the municipalities

Kindergartens and schools

It is essential that schools be capable of preparing pupils for living and working in a society based on ICT. The ability to use digital tools is one of the five basic skills defined in the National Curriculum for Knowledge Promotion in Primary and Secondary Education and Training. The basic skills, including using digital tools, are integrated into the competence aims in all subjects from primary through to upper secondary education. In kindergartens, too, digital tools are considered an important source of play, communication, and information.

Teachers must possess the necessary competence in using ICT in their teaching. Attention should also be given to ensuring that ICT is used appropriately in educational activities in kindergartens. Many newly qualified and experienced teachers find that they lack the pedagogical competence to teach ICT. Only 40 per cent of teacher-training graduates said they learned how ICT could be used in teaching.14 Among leaders and educational supervisors in kindergartens, around 45 per cent either said there was a strong need or said there was a very strong need to raise competence levels in the teaching of ICT in kindergartens.15Pupils’ use of digital tools in schools has shown positive trends in all areas. However, some challenges remain, particularly regarding wide variations between schools and between pupils.

Textbox 2.1 Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education

The Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education is responsible for disseminating high-quality research and practice-based knowledge about ICT and learning. The Centre assesses new technologies and digital media and analyses their pedagogical potential. It disseminates, provides guidance on, and adapts knowledge about using ICT in education. The Centre is tasked with promoting development of ICT in teacher-training programmes for teachers and pre-school teachers, and in their continued and further education.

The Centre has more than 70 web-based guides, reports, and fact sheets for kindergarten staff, teachers, school leaders, school owners, and IT personnel. Important services and projects initiated by the Centre include the portals,,, and, and the authentication system Feide (common electronic ID).

The Centre is also responsible for following up the Report to the Storting No. 17 (2006–2007) An Information Society for All in its areas of responsibility, and for acting as a driver of eGovernment in the education sector.

Source More information:

It is essential that ICT in schools be based on the idea of school as an arena for inclusion and diversity. The Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education will contribute to ensuring that ICT solutions used in schools are equally available to all pupils (see also the chapter 2.4.1 on universal design of ICT).

For more than a decade, the Ministry of Education and Research has implemented a series of initiatives to enhance digital competence in schools. In 2010, this issue was made one of the main areas of responsibility for the newly established Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education. There has also been strong commitment to providing teachers with further education in recent years, exemplified by the national strategy for further education, entitled Kompetanse for kvalitet [Competence for Quality].The school owners (municipalities, county municipalities, and private stakeholders) decide which teachers and subjects/areas they want to prioritise before applications are forwarded to the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. It is therefore essential that school owners and leaders possess sufficient knowledge about the competence needs of their schools. The Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education has developed two tools, School Mentor and Teacher Mentor, to map the strengths and weaknesses of schools in terms of their pedagogical use of ICT.

The Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education also runs its own project aimed at promoting the development of digital competence in the kindergarten sector and in pre-school teacher training. Digital competence in kindergartens involves integrating ICT into kindergarten activities in relevant, secure, and motivating ways. The Centre serves as an initiator, coordinator, and information resource, and also initiates research and mapping projects in this field. One example of this is the reported entitled Småbarns digitale univers [The Digital Universe of Young Children], published in 2012. This report shows that young children use a wide range of digital media and that kindergartens therefore have an important role to play for children in this area. The Centre also develops various resources for use by kindergartens.

The Ministry of Education and Research has prepared a booklet entitled Temahefte om IKT i barnehagen16[ICT in the Kindergarten] to increase knowledge about using digital tools in teaching activities. This is a valuable resource for kindergartens, and surveys show that kindergartens already use digital media extensively, most often digital cameras, which are used to document everyday life in kindergartens, in collaboration with the children.

Adult education and training

Under the Education Act, adults who have the need are entitled to primary and lower secondary education, and municipalities are responsible for providing it. Adults can choose to earn a certificate by taking full primary and lower secondary education or by simply taking specific subjects. Vox (Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning) cooperates with municipalities on developing educational programmes in basic skills for adults. Municipalities can receive free guidance in adult education, training in basic skills, suggestions on suitable learning arenas, and free training courses for teachers of adult students.

We note that many adults do not yet use the internet (270,000 aged 16–79), and immigrants from Asia, Africa, and South America are over-represented in this group. Many of these people live in low-income households or are excluded from working life. Immigrants constitute a diverse group of people who can be offered competence-raising opportunities in several arenas. Schemes such as public education programmes or courses organised by NAV or employers are also important for immigrants. Under the Introduction Act, most newly arrived immigrants have the right and obligation to tuition in Norwegian language and social studies. The revised curriculum in Norwegian language and social studies, implemented in autumn 2012, stipulates learning outcomes for digital competence, such as practical experience in using digital tools. These initiatives will contribute towards raising this group’s level of digital competence.

2.3.2 Voluntary, public and private organisations

Non-profit organisations can play a key role in making digital skills training available to specific groups.

Elderly citizens constitute another group having specific needs for ICT training. That said, Norway is at the forefront internationally regarding digital participation by the elderly.17 As more and more people retire from jobs that involve using ICT, we can expect a rise in the percentage of elderly citizens who actively use digital tools and services. Nonetheless, much remains to be done until this group’s level of participation is as high as the rest of the population’s; so the need for training remains.

The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs grants subsidies to Seniornett Norge, an NGO for senior citizens, so it can offer ICT training courses for the elderly. Such training can be arranged in, for example, senior citizens’ community centres or libraries. Seniornett also cooperates extensively with private sector partners who want to promote digital participation so that the markets for digital products and services grow.

The Adult Education Association has around 400 member organisations and receives subsidies for training activities from the Ministry of Education and Research via Vox. Many of these member organisations offer courses in digital literacy via the Adult Education Association or one of its member organisations. Distance learning institutions provide training via a range of online media.

Textbox 2.2 Seniornett

Seniornett is a voluntary interest organisation that promotes participation by senior citizens (aged 55+) in the digital society. The organisation was founded in 1997 and today has 160 affiliated associations or clubs around Norway. The clubs provide guidance and training for senior citizens. In 2011, around 25,000 senior citizens received training in digital skills.

Seniornett arranges an annual SeniorSurf Day at around 400 venues throughout Norway, in voluntary centres, libraries, senior citizens community centres, and schools. The organisation publishes a newsletter three times a year containing useful articles on ICT. Today Seniornett has approximately 7,000 members and around 850 volunteers working in the clubs. It receives funding from both public and private sources.

Source More information:

Non-profit organisations also contribute towards promoting digital participation, some through cooperation with private partners. For example, the Norwegian Red Cross cooperates with a leading software company to provide ICT courses for women immigrants.

Municipalities can also promote digital literacy outside the schools. Public libraries are important arenas for this. The project entitled Digital kompetanseheving i biblioteket [Developing Digital Skills in Libraries], organised by the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority (now the National Library of Norway), looked at more structured ways of using libraries as arenas for learning digital skills. Cooperating with a range of local partners – both companies and non-profit organisations – proved to be crucial for success. A booklet offering guidance to libraries in providing computer training has been developed as part of the project.18

Textbox 2.3 Vox

Vox (Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning) is a national agency for competence policy, focusing particularly on adult learning. Part of the Ministry of Education and Research, Vox is tasked with promoting participation in society and working life and providing information on adult learning.

Vox develops methods and mapping tools based on the competence goals for adults’ basic skills, and assists with establishing continuing and further education programmes for teachers and instructors.

Vox administers subsidies to adult education associations and independent distance learning institutions. It also administers the Programme for Basic Competence in Working Life, and follows up the curriculum and Norwegian language tests associated with programmes in Norwegian language and society for adult immigrants.

Source More information:

2.3.3 Working life

Working life constantly demands higher levels of digital competence while simultaneously developing the competence levels of those who use ICT on an everyday basis. The Government wants ICT to be an essential part of competence development in order to include people in working life. It is also important that labour-force participants have opportunities to develop their digital skills in the workplace.

The statistics for internet usage during the previous three months indicate a close correlation between labour-force participation and use. A survey published by Vox indicates a clear correlation between skills level and labour-force participation for more advanced levels of ICT competence. In all, 80 per cent of employees say they are experienced ICT users; the corresponding figure for unemployed citizens is 66 per cent.19

Textbox 2.4 PIAAC survey

The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) is the most comprehensive international survey of adult skills and competencies ever undertaken. The survey is a collaborative project between governments, an international consortium of organisations, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

The aim is to measure the skills and competencies required for individuals to participate in society and working life. In Norway the survey is financed by the Ministry of Education and Research, the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs, and is conducted by Statistics Norway.

The survey involves measuring respondents’ (16–65) skills in reading, numerical comprehension, and problem-solving (using modern technological aids). The survey also studies participants’ use of their skills in everyday and working life. It is the first time citizens’ skills in, and use of, ICT are surveyed, along with their personal assessments of how much they use these skills in the workplace. The survey will reveal correlations between basic skills, continuing and further education, and work experience, and to what degree participants have acquired skills used in working life and in society. The project will also provide a basis for conducting research on a range of issues in different areas of society. The international dimension is useful for revealing differences between countries and for providing insight into positive and negative experiences from other countries regarding the significance of education and employment for productivity and growth.

Once the results are published in October 2013, Norway will be able to draw comparisons with countries like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France, Poland, the United States, Japan, and Australia. More than 20 countries worldwide are participating in the survey.

Source More information:

The programme entitled Program for basiskompetanse i arbeidslivet [Programme for Basic Competence in Working Life] is an aid scheme aimed at companies to enable employees to improve their basic skills in areas such as reading, writing, arithmetic, and basic ICT. The programme provides some of the funding for these initiatives, and in 2012 it approved applications totalling NOK 106 million. The main goal for 24 per cent of the applicants was to improve digital skills, and ICT is used as a tool in many of the programme’s other courses. Some county municipalities also run smaller training schemes for jobseekers, in partnership with NAV. Vox cooperates with NAV to improve its advisors’ basic skills, with a view to enhancing the quality of its training schemes. This programme is administrated by Vox on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Research.

An evaluation of the Programme for Basic Competence in Working Life shows that its courses generally reach groups with the lowest level of basic skills and those who would otherwise have few opportunities for workplace training. Most employers involved say that the training motivated many of their employees to start using new technology and that participants now use computers more than previously.20

Norway is taking part in a large-scale international survey to gain more knowledge about which skills and competence are required in modern society and working life (see box 2.4). This survey will provide us with vital information to guide our future work.

2.3.4 Arenas for individuals excluded from working life

Basic skills among adults who are excluded from working life is an issue for both education and labour-market policy. Training is therefore provided by the labour-market authorities (NAV) in partnership with education authorities. Training is given either in the form of labour-market training or through the regular education system, and may be linked to an adult education association or other, private provider. Employment schemes are adapted to individual needs and capabilities, and are designed per the current labour-market situation and policy guidelines.

The initiatives should contribute towards:

  • improving qualifications and work skills

  • improving opportunities for normal employment

  • producing a qualified workforce

  • preventing and mitigating the negative effects of unemployment

  • preventing exclusion from working life

NAV offers training to both ordinary jobseekers and individuals with reduced work capacity, with the aim of making them better qualified for employment.

NAV develops activity plans for individuals requiring help with finding employment. The jobseekers are consulted throughout the process. If digital competence is needed to improve a jobseeker’s capacity to work, this is taken into account when developing an activity plan.

Textbox 2.5 Initiatives

  • 1. Everyone online

    The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will lead an initiative aimed at halving the number of internet non-users by 2017.

  • 2. Relevant and targeted training programmes

    Through dialogue with other relevant ministries, the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will assess training programmes aimed at groups that need them, and will consider models used in other countries. The Ministry will continually monitor developments in this area and consider action to respond to changing needs.

  • 3. Knowledge about digital participation

    The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will measure developments in the population’s digital participation, and will consider developing a set of national indicators of digital participation. These indicators will be harmonised as closely as possible with those used by the OECD and the EU.

  • 4. Digital competence in specific immigrant groups

    The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion will consider the need for surveys on the digital skills of immigrants and explore appropriate initiatives.

  • 5. Digital competence in the schools

    The Ministry of Education and Research will consider whether and how general digital competence, training in digital skills, and pedagogical use of ICT in curriculum subjects can be developed within the current framework to prepare pupils for digital society and working life. The Government will, within existing budgetary constraints, consider new and adjust existing initiatives per knowledge about teacher training and continuing and further education.

  • 6. Employees’ digital competence

    The Programme for Basic Competence in Working Life is a scheme aimed at providing employees with basic skills in digital competence, reading, writing, and arithmetic. This programme is administered by Vox. The Ministry of Education and Research will continue this programme.

  • 7. Following up on the PIAAC survey

    In cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will follow up on the results from the PIAAC survey of adults’ digital competence from a working-life perspective.

  • 8. Digital competence, data protection, and cyber security

    In cooperation with other ministries, the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will provide citizens with the necessary knowledge, safety and understanding they need to protect their identity, privacy and financial assets online. This can be achieved through public information campaigns, support and guidance initiatives, and surveys to track trends.

  • 9. Protecting children against harmful media content

    In January 2013, the Ministry of Culture issued draft legislation concerning the protection of minors against harmful images, and will continue to work on this issue

  • 10. White paper on Data Protection

    The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will follow up the Report to the Storting No. 11 (2012–2013) Data Protection: Outlook and Challenges.

2.4 Accessibility

Genuine digital participation by everyone requires that services be designed and prepared such that most people can use them. A computer or tablet connected to the internet provides access, but unless the service is, for example, adapted for the visually impaired, it will not be accessible by everyone.

2.4.1 Universal design of ICT

Universal design involves designing or adapting buildings, outdoor spaces, ICT, etc. so that their normal functions can be used by most people, including individuals with disabilities. Creating solutions which everyone can use avoids having to design special adaptations for different groups. To reach the widest possible market, suppliers of hardware and software are constantly simplifying their products and making them more user-friendly. Suppliers of widely used online services or, for example, the ticket machines and self-service checkouts we use in everyday life, will reach larger groups of users when their products are universally designed.

Textbox 2.6 Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act, section 11

Section 11 of the Anti-Discrimination and Accessibility Act stipulates requirements for universal design of ICT solutions. These requirements will be specified in regulations through establishing internationally recognised standards and guidelines. Initially, regulations will cover web solutions and self-service solutions. Requirements will apply to both private and public enterprises.

Universally designed ICT solutions can, for example, make it possible for the visually impaired to enlarge text on websites or to adjust the contrast to enhance readability. Standard functions make it possible to have text on a website read aloud, and blind people can use Braille displays. Universally designed ICT solutions also mean that users with physical disabilities can use alternative pointing equipment or keyboards. Adaptations like these are particularly helpful to users with various types of disabilities, but they can also help improve accessibility for the elderly and for the large group of Norwegians with reading and writing difficulties. Many products we use today, such as TV remote controls, were originally designed for groups with special needs.

To a large extent, universal design requirements for ICT have already been incorporated into Difi’s quality criteria for public-sector websites.

Difi works on improving the quality of public sector websites. One key element in this work is the annual quality assessment of 700 government and municipal websites, which has now been carried out for ten years. The purpose of the quality criteria and assessment is to draw attention to aspects such as accessibility, user-friendliness, and provision of useful services.

2.4.2 More public online services, and plain language

The Government’s digitisation programme has determined that digital communication should be the general rule in all communication with the public sector. Applications, invoices, requests for appointments, notifications of decision, and various types of reporting should be processed via digital communication as long as users have not exercised their right to refuse.

Accessibility also has to do with ensuring that individuals can understand the content of services they use. Thirty-three per cent of Norwegians find it difficult to complete official forms. The digitisation programme emphasizes ensuring that online self-service systems in the public sector are understandable and easy to use. Users who have a need will be given help and guidance through wizards or through direct contact via live chat or telephone support. Each agency is responsible for ensuring that users receive the help and guidance they need.

It must be easy for users to locate the digital service they seek. Public administration should be clearly structured and should describe itself using terms and phrases that make it easier for citizens to know which agency they are dealing with. If users need to deal with multiple agencies concerning a specific matter, the agency they contact should provide guidance on the entire process and inform them about who they should contact next.

The Government will, via the agencies, communicate how to use digital services and the benefits they offer citizens using them.

Textbox 2.7 Initiatives

  • 11. Regulations on universal design of ICT systems

    The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will put forward proposals for regulatory requirements for universal design of ICT systems. Difi will act as supervisory authority. Regulations will enter into force in 2013.

  • 12. Universal design in the circular on digitisation

    The circular on digitisation issued by the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs emphasizes that agencies should plan their web solutions so as to satisfy universal design requirements.

  • 13. Plain language in public sector web solutions

    The public administration should use clear and understandable language. Wording in key acts and regulations must be simplified, and civil servants must be provided assistance with formulating letters, forms, and web solutions that are clear and understandable. This matter will be followed up by the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs and the agencies.

3 Broadband – among the best in Europe

Broadband access is a prerequisite for digital value creation and participation. Several studies show that access to and use of broadband have positive effects on both employment and value creation. A well-developed broadband network is vital for Norwegian citizens, public agencies, voluntary organisations, and a competitive business sector.

The Government has set an ambitious broadband policy for Norway, and will therefore:

  • continue work on facilitating broadband with sufficient capacity to meet future needs in education, health, business and industry, and households throughout the country

  • work towards making Norway among the best in Europe in terms of broadband coverage and usage

  • continue allocating targeted funding worth at least NOK 150 million per year until all households (100 per cent) have a good basic quality of broadband service

  • set coverage requirements in spectrum auctions in the 800 MHz band for mobile broadband to ensure 98 per cent of households receive coverage equivalent to an average data transfer rate of at least 2 Mbit/s

  • provide Norway with fixed and mobile broadband networks that are secure, robust, and of good quality

  • facilitate for Norwegian broadband networks to promote diversity in the services offered to users

  • facilitate net neutrality

Broadband access in Norway: Current status

Today, almost all households in Norway can connect to a broadband network (Figure 3.1). The Government has created subsidy schemes for the rollout of broadband services in areas considered commercially unviable by the market.

The proportion of the Norwegian population with high-speed broadband has grown rapidly in recent years, though the majority subscribes to broadband speeds lower than those offered. Around 14 per cent of households do not subscribe to broadband, despite having the possibility.

Figure 3.1 Proportion of households with basic broadband

Figure 3.1 Proportion of households with basic broadband

Source Nexia (2012): Bredbåndsdekning 2012 [Broadband coverage 2012], report commissioned by the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs; Nexia (2012): Bredt nok? [Broad enough?], report commissioned by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority; Statistics Norway: ICT in households, 2003–2012, 2nd quarter

Two thirds of Norwegian households have access to broadband capacity of at least 25 Mbit/s, yet only around 13 per cent actually opts for such high speeds (Figure 3.2).

Figure 3.2 Broadband availability and take-up for different speeds, 2012

Figure 3.2 Broadband availability and take-up for different speeds, 2012

Source Nexia (2012): Bredbåndsdekning 2012 [Broadband coverage 2012],report commissioned by the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs; Statistics Norway: The internet survey, 2012, 2nd quarter

In practice, everyone in Norway has access to broadband covering at least normal, basic internet usage, such as e-mail, online banking, and public online services. Although most of the population has good broadband coverage, and although most subscribe to broadband speeds lower than those available, some subscribers want access to faster speeds than those currently offered. The demand for higher broadband speeds will likely grow in the near future; enterprises will need higher speeds when, for example, conducting video conferences and other location-independent communication, which in turn can facilitate more effective methods of working and collaborating. Private users will need more capacity to view videos or TV via broadband, as well as to, for example, take online education courses. Furthermore, many families will have more users sharing the same broadband connection. Both private individuals and enterprises will use more cloud services to, for example, store photos and videos online. Providing the entire country with access to these services demands good and reliable broadband capacities in all regions. Furthermore, online users expect high levels of security and internet access 24 hours a day.

Table 3.1 shows broadband capacity demands for different services and content. It is important to emphasize that assigning some services to a specific speed category can be difficult because user experience depends on both user expectations and technical conditions such as screen resolution.

Table 3.1 High-speed broadband: Applications and content

Bandwidth (symmetrical)1

Example applications and content delivered in real time

500 kbit/s–1 Mbit/s

Voice over IPE-mail Basic web browsing Music streaming Video, low quality

1 Mbit/s–5 Mbit/s

E-mail with large attachments Remote surveillance IPTV, medium quality Music streaming, high quality

5 Mbit/s–10 Mbit/s

Telecommuting IPTV, medium quality (multiple channels) Video, high quality Gaming Medical applications, file sharing and remote diagnosis (basic) Remote education Building control

10 Mbit/s–50 Mbit/s

Telemedicine Education services (high-quality video) IPTV, high quality (2–3 channels simultaneously) Gaming (complex) Telecommuting with high-quality video Remote surveillance, high quality Smart building control

1 By 'symmetrical' is meant a broadband service with equivalent upload and download speeds.

Source Commerce Commission New Zealand (2012): High-Speed Broadband Services Demand-Side Study

With its unevenly distributed population, long distances, and challenging natural environment, Norway is not an easy country in which to deploy broadband. Because rolling out broadband in sparsely populated areas costs more, and because competition to do so is often lacking, most broadband service providers do not consider such areas commercially viable. In other cases, broadband speeds in these areas will not be increased until long after speeds are increased in other parts of the country (Figure 3.3).

Figure 3.3 Broadband coverage, bandwidth 50/10 Mbit/s, by county (2012)

Figure 3.3 Broadband coverage, bandwidth 50/10 Mbit/s, by county (2012)

Source Nexia (2012): Bredbåndsdekning 2012 [Broadband coverage 2012], report commissioned by the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs

Norway is a rich country with relatively equitable income distribution. Broadband subscription rates are therefore moderate relative to most people’s incomes (around 1 per cent of the average Norwegian annual income), and most Norwegians are both willing and able to pay for broadband access.

Strong popular demand means that broadband services are quickly developed on the basis of various technologies; more areas are connected to high-speed broadband, and a growing number is also receiving access to mobile broadband.

Textbox 3.1 Broadband and value creation

Many studies show that broadband access contributes to growth and employment.

  • A 2008 study from Statistics Norway shows that high-speed broadband increases productivity. High-speed broadband is defined as 2 Mbit/s or above.1

  • Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg recently concluded that doubling broadband speed would contribute to 0.3 per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP).2

  • In 2012, OECD published a report on a review conducted of several studies on the relationship between internet access and multiple economic indicators, including studies showing a positive relationship between broadband usage and growth in GDP.3

  • An OECD analysis examined the relationship between deployment of broadband infrastructure and economic growth in a sample group of OECD countries. The analysis showed that broadband rollout and diffusion had a positive impact on the countries’ GDP growth. According to the study, an increase of 10 percentage points in broadband penetration led to GDP per capita growth of 0.9–1.5 percentage points.4

  • In 2012, Vista published a report which concluded that publicly funded deployment of high-speed broadband in rural areas was not economically justified based on a cost-benefit analysis. The report emphasized that the situation was nuanced and, in some studies, unclear. Vista also studied added benefits of higher broadband speeds and concluded that these were limited, particularly for upgrades to speeds of 20 Mbit/s and above.5

1 Marina Rybalka (2008): SSB Økonomiske analyser 5/2008 – Hvor viktig er IKT for utvikling i næringslivet: produktivitetsanalyse [How important is ICT for developing business and industry? A productivity analysis]

2 Ibrahim Kholilul Rohman and Erik Bohlin (2012): Does broadband speed really matter for driving economic growth? Investigating OECD countries

3 Kretschmer, T. (2012): Information and Communication Technologies and Productivity Growth: A Survey of the Literature, OECD Digital Economy Papers, No. 195, OECD Publishing

4 Czernich et al. (2011): Broadband Infrastructure and Economic Growth

5 Vista Analysis (2012): Samfunnsøkonomisk nytte og lønnsomhet av høyhastighetsbredbånd i distriktene [Economic benefit and profitability of high-speed broadband in rural areas], Rapport 2012/11

3.1 A market-based and technology-neutral broadband policy

A key element in Norwegian broadband policy has been that commercial suppliers should roll out broadband according to the needs of inhabitants and industry: in other words, a market-based broadband policy. Supplemented by public funding for rollout in the less profitable areas, this market-based broadband policy has given most areas in Norway a broadband infrastructure with good coverage and high-speed capacity. Although Norway is an expensive and challenging country in terms of broadband deployment, we have achieved good results with moderate use of public resources. The market-based broadband strategy has therefore proven successful and will continue to guide the Government’s future broadband policy.

3.1.1 A technology-neutral broadband policy

The Government will practise a technology-neutral policy to ensure healthy competition between technology platforms. Because technologies and usage patterns change at a very fast pace, the Government cannot choose between technologies; it must instead defer to commercial actors who know more about the costs and needs involved.

3.1.2 Facilitating cost-effective deployment

Deploying conveyance routes (civil works infrastructure) constitutes the largest cost component in rolling out broadband networks. ‘Conveyance route’ is a generic term for an installation used to lay cables and power lines; examples of such conveyance routes are masts, ducts, and trenches. In some locations, broadband deployment is unduly expensive due to poor coordination between infrastructure owners or to costly planning processes. By improving access to existing conveyance routes and establishing new ones, deployment costs can be significantly reduced and modern broadband services offered to more subscribers.

Other measures can make deployment more cost-effective, a key one being establishment of common standards for exchanging information on cables and lines to provide network providers with better information on the location of existing and new cabling. This work has already begun, and is headed by the Norwegian Mapping Authority.

Another measure is to consider simplifying regulations for digging on public land, which is currently regulated by various pieces of legislation at both national and municipal levels. The Ministry of Transport and Communications will issue regulations pursuant to the Public Roads Act concerning cabling under and along roads,21 and the authorities will continue to encourage stakeholders to resolve challenges through standardisation.

Some municipalities have already established systems for coordinating digging activities, and these can contribute towards, for example, sharing costs for establishing new conveyance routes between infrastructure owners. In cooperation with other ministries and stakeholders, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs will consider the need for systems to coordinate digging activities in areas where no such systems currently exist.

In some cases, it is neither possible nor desirable to establish parallel conveyance routes. Under the Electronic Communications Act, Telenor, as a provider with a strong market position, is required to give other providers access to premises, masts, etc. (co-location), in specific markets. The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority will monitor how the regulations facilitate effective deployment.

3.1.3 Mobile broadband

The Government will work towards achieving good and future-oriented mobile broadband services. Good mobile broadband services are contingent on access to necessary frequency resources. Frequencies are shared resources that must be managed effectively and in society’s best interests. The Government has announced that frequencies that were freed up when the analogue TV network was shut down (the 790–862 MHz band, often referred to as the digital dividend) will be used for mobile broadband services. Certain technical features of this frequency band make it well suited for cost-effective establishment of mobile broadband with good coverage.

Through a frequency assignment process (spectrum auction), the Government will contribute to the rollout of mobile broadband with high levels of quality and coverage. Requirements will be set for a specified share of the band to cover 98 per cent of the population within five years, at a minimum average data transfer rate of 2 Mbit/s. A report from Nexia22estimated that the public sector would incur costs for broadband coverage exceeding 95 per cent. Including coverage requirements in the spectrum auction would mean that these costs would materialise in reduced auction revenues. Nexia estimated establishment costs for increasing coverage from 95 per cent to 98 per cent at around NOK 200 million. The total net cost depends on how much carriers expect subscription revenues and operating costs to increase.

Cost-effective rollout of mobile broadband is contingent on developers’ obtaining permission to install transmission equipment on sites with good radio coverage. This will also ensure that transmitters are located as unobtrusively as possible and reduce the number of transmitters needed to establish satisfactory coverage and quality of service. Gaining access to public buildings and property to install mobile communication equipment is therefore crucial to reach national competition and diffusion targets for mobile telephony and broadband. In many cases, the alternative to installing equipment in centrally located buildings is to install either more transmitters on private buildings or more masts in order to achieve equivalent coverage. The Government will therefore facilitate better access to public buildings and property for installing electronic communication equipment.

3.1.4 Facilitating competition

The authorities will facilitate competition between developers and between technologies through effective market regulation. The broadband market is subject to regulations that are part of the common European regulatory framework for electronic communication. In Norway, this regulatory framework was implemented through the Electronic Communications Act and its associated regulations, and gives authorities power to impose obligations on providers with significant market power. The Government will continue to facilitate a well-functioning broadband market and enforce legislation in such a way as to promote sustainable competition, support different business models, and enable providers to continue deployment.

In 2012, the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority undertook a new analysis of the wholesale broadband access markets. Several obligations have already been imposed on Telenor with regard to the copper-based access network. The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority is considering regulations that may also regulate Telenor’s fibre network so as to give other broadband providers access to the fibre infrastructure.

The authorities will also enable more providers to establish their own networks and thereby stimulate market competition. One such example is regulation of the rates providers must pay each other (termination rates).

The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority and the Norwegian Competition Authority are formal cooperation partners, and the Norwegian Competition Authority serves as a key adviser to the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority. The Norwegian Competition Authority also supervises general competition in the market by, for example, supervising mergers, acquisitions, etc.

3.1.5 Public subsidies

Since 2006, the state has contributed more than NOK 1 billion towards broadband rollout in areas with no commercial broadband service, NOK 370 million of which came from budget allocations to the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs and NOK 756 million of which went to the county municipalities from budget allocations to the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development. These resources have probably contributed to deployment of around 100,000 new broadband access points. For 2012, NOK 123 million was allocated to the municipalities and county municipalities for regional policy measures, and the county municipalities receive other regional development funding that may also be used for broadband rollout. The Government has proposed that the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development’s budget earmarks for broadband rollout be continued in 2012.

In 2011, the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs created a temporary state subsidy programme for broadband rollout. The programme, worth NOK 15 million and known as Høykom Infrastruktur 2011 (High-Speed Communication Infrastructure 2011), is administrated by the Research Council of Norway. The programme funds were allocated in 2012.

The Government will develop further initiatives facilitating market-based rollout of broadband services. However, rolling out broadband with sufficient bandwidth to meet demand is not commercially viable in some areas. The need for public subsidies will therefore continue in areas where rollout of acceptable market-based services is not commercially viable. The Government will monitor market trends closely and continually assess the need for more policy instruments. This requires in-depth knowledge about usage patterns, needs, and services available.

The Government’s ambition is that all households (100 per cent) should have access to broadband services of a good basic quality. Budget allocations worth at least NOK 150 million per year will be continued until this ambition is realised. These resources will target areas currently without broadband and will be based on deployment activities being undertaken by commercial actors.

3.1.6 Secure and robust networks

Despite the unusually high number of failures and incidents in 2011, security and uptime levels for Norwegian telecom networks are generally high compared to those of other countries. Users who need additional security may buy such services in the market, and the authorities also buy services to enhance network security. The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are considering further measures to make networks more robust.

Textbox 3.2 Initiatives

  • 14. Facilitating cost-effective deployment

    The Government will facilitate deployment of conveyance routes that are as cost-effective as possible to promote profitability in broadband rollout. This work will entail:

    • contributing to relaxing regulations for digging on public land

    • effectively supervising compliance with co-location regulations (shared use of premises, masts, etc.)

    • assessing the need for systems to coordinate digging activities in areas where none currently exist

    • contributing towards establishing national regulations, standards, and procedures for registering, managing, and exchanging information on cabling (geodata) for both existing and new conveyance routes

    • facilitating access to public buildings and property to install electronic communication equipment

  • 15. Broadband for all

    The Government’s ambition is that all households (100 per cent) should have access to broadband services of good basic quality. Annual funding of at least NOK 150 million will continue until this ambition is realised, and these resources will target areas currently without broadband. Deployment activities will be undertaken by commercial actors.

  • 16. Frequency allocations for mobile broadband

    The Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority will assign frequency resources from the 790–862 MHz band to improve mobile broadband services. Requirements will be set for a specified share of the band to cover 98 per cent of the population within five years, at a minimum data transfer rate of 2 Mbit/s.

  • 17. Competition in the broadband market

    The Government will facilitate competition in the broadband market through effective market regulation.

  • 18. Enhanced knowledge of the broadband market

    The Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affair will enhance its knowledge about commercial rollout of broadband in relation to end-user needs. The need for initiatives will continually be assessed, including the need for state subsidies for rollout in areas without satisfactory commercial services. The Government will initiate dialogue with the industry on this issue through consultations, meetings, and hearings.

  • 19. Secure and robust telecom networks

    Together with providers, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority will consider more ways to increase network security and preparedness.

3.2 Net neutrality

In some countries, subscribers are not fully able to choose how they will use their internet connection. The Government considers it an important principle that internet users be free to choose which services and content they want to use; this principle is known as ‘net neutrality.’

Net neutrality should ensure that the internet service provides open and non-discriminatory access to all types of communication and distribution of content. Net neutrality is a vital prerequisite for democracy, free access to information, and protection of consumer rights, and should not be regulated by broadband or internet service providers. This principle is particularly important in a small and sparsely populated country like Norway, where some areas are served by only one, or very few, internet service provider. The principle of net neutrality applies to both fixed and mobile broadband. Wherever the choice of provider is limited, providers must offer freedom of choice.

3.2.1 Guidelines on net neutrality

In 2009, the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority published guidelines on net neutrality (see box 3.3). The guidelines were developed by a working group headed by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority and comprising representatives of internet service providers, content providers, industry organisations, and consumer protection authorities.

Most broadband service providers in Norway endorsed the guidelines on net neutrality, and subsequent evaluations showed that all actors reported that the guidelines worked as intended. Attention has recently focused on net neutrality in connection with mobile internet. We have seen examples abroad of mobile broadband service providers blocking out competitors using broadband to provide telephony services (broadband telephony). The Norwegian guidelines on net neutrality apply to both fixed and mobile networks, and we have not seen similar cases in Norway.

Textbox 3.3 Net neutrality

According to the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority, net neutrality can best be defined in three principles describing how traffic should be handled by internet service providers:

  • Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection with predefined capacity and quality.

  • Internet users are entitled to an internet connection that enables them to:

    • send and receive content of their choice

    • use services and run applications of their choice

    • connect hardware and use software of their choice that do not harm the network

  • Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of discrimination with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address.

Source Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (2009): Om nettnøytralitet [About net neutrality]

Sale of broadband, TV, and telephony in bundles

Broadband, TV, and telephony can be supplied via the same infrastructure and are often sold in bundles, so-called ‘triple play’ services. This strategy is popular for providing multiple services from one provider. For example, many cable TV companies require consumers to buy TV signals to gain access to high-speed broadband, and some telephone and fibre optic companies require consumers to buy internet access to receive TV signals and telephony.23 Bundled sales can challenge the principle of net neutrality because they make it difficult for consumers to freely choose providers of individual communication and TV services. On the other hand, bundling enables consumers to deal with only one service provider and give providers greater security for their infrastructure investments.

The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority and the Ministry of Transport and Communications are monitoring developments in this area and will, if necessary, consider regulatory measures should the guidelines on net neutrality prove inadequate.

Textbox 3.4 Initiatives

  • 19. Net neutrality principles

    The Government will continue to defend the principle of net neutrality, monitor national and international developments, and, if necessary, consider regulatory measures in the Norwegian market.

Textbox 3.5 Technology trends: From automation to hyper-digitisation

So far, digitisation has worked at a fundamental level by making existing work processes more efficient. In future, digitisation will generate changes that are of an even more fundamental nature; for example, processes will be performed in totally new and automated ways. But so-called ‘hyper-digitisation’ will also occur, transforming entire industries; in fact, this has already begun in sectors such as tourism, finance, and media. During the next five years, hyper-digitisation will become a reality for even more industries and for much of the public sector.

At any given time, numerous minor and major technology changes are taking place, and four major technology trends in particular will drive future developments, either alone or in combination:

  • Cloud services

  • Social media, linked with communication, collaboration, and content management

  • Mobile solutions

  • Smarter use of information (‘big data’)

Cloud services

The analyst firm Gartner believes that cloud services will revolutionise data processing in the same way as global supply chains have revolutionised manufacturing. Whereas cloud services long ago penetrated the personal and private spheres, they have yet to do so in the corporate and economic spheres.

Cloud services can be publicly accessible services (public cloud) or restricted to specific enterprises or groups (private cloud). Industrialised cloud services will represent the biggest game changer in the history of ICT service provision.

For the public sector, it will be crucial to have the capability to manage and influence cloud service providers by, for example, harmonising market offerings and legislation. The maturing phase is expected to take 3–5 years, and during that time, legislation governing data protection is just one of several issues that will need clarification.

Social media, communication, collaboration, and content management

Social media and collaboration create simple and creative collaboration solutions between people and between people and applications. To fully exploit these possibilities, work processes must be changed and adapted to new tools. Trends are also influenced – and perhaps accelerated – by developments in mobile solutions. Gartner expects use of social media to create significant increases in productivity and service levels, and to affect – and often enrich – people’s working lives.

Mobility and mobile solutions: Bring your own device (BYOD)

ICT usage will increasingly take place via mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. By 2015, Gartner estimates that development projects for mobile solutions will outnumber projects targeting PCs by a ratio of 4:1; in 2011, this ratio was around 1:1. From 2015, mobile solutions will be more closely integrated with traditional, more well-established technologies. Introduction of the HML5 web standard is expected to significantly reduce current challenges posed by mobile devices using multiple competitive operating systems (such as Android, iOS, and Windows). Mobility is closely linked to cloud services.

We will see a trend whereby enterprises will begin to adopt consumer technologies; a trend Gartner calls ‘consumerisation.’ Using their tablets, smartphones, ultrabooks, or new varieties of these technologies, employees can work wherever and whenever they want. The expectation is that far more enterprises will allow their applications to be used on equipment owned by employees or that employees will use applications not pre-approved by their employers.

Smarter use of large data sets (‘big data’)

The volume of accessible digital information is growing rapidly. Automated and intelligent use of accessible information is commonly referred to as ‘big data.’ The public sector in particular generates vast volumes of information that can be used for purposes for which it was not originally intended. Managing large data sets is gradually becoming the norm, and offers significant innovation potential if we manage to exploit this diversity of information in cost-effective and automated ways.

Digitisation has caused the volume of digital information owned by organisations to grow by 40 per cent yearly. Gartner estimates that unstructured content, such as e-mail, presentations, and reports, accounts for 85 per cent of enterprises’ source data, yet is rarely used in ways that realise its significant, inherent assets.

Large data sets are growing because an increasing number of physical objects are being connected to the internet, a phenomenon often referred to as the ‘internet of things.’ These can be large, valuable objects such as cars, freight containers, or refrigerators, but they can also be cheap, mass-produced consumer items such as light bulbs or sports shoes. Such objects can also transmit and receive data streams of information such as geographical location, temperature, and other measurements.

Towards 2020, the number of objects connected and the volume of data traffic they generate are expected to increase dramatically. According to Gartner, the internet of things holds promise for improving national infrastructure, for example, by optimising traffic management on road networks deployed with sensors or by providing better overviews in long and complex production chains in the health and care services sector. Gartner views this field as immature, but expects significant developments towards 2020.

Source Gartner. As part of the preparatory work for this white paper, the Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs commissioned the analyst firm Gartner to write a report on technology trends. The views presented here sums up Gartner’s analysis.



European Commission (2012): Digital Agenda Scoreboard 2011


Statistics Norway (2012): Internet usage in the past three months. Percentage of population, by gender, age, education and employment situation. 2012, 2nd quarter


By ‘access’ is meant that they state they have a computer or similar device connected to the internet at home.


Statistics Norway (2012): Percentage with access to different ICT, by household type and household income. 2012, 2nd quarter. These figures apply for households where at least one person is aged below 75.


Statistics Norway (2012): ICT in households. 2012, 2nd quarter


Statistics Norway (2012): Norwegian Media Barometer 2011, Table 19


Vaage, Odd Frank (2012): Tidene skifter. Tidsbruk 1971–2010, SSB Tidsbrukundersøkelsen 2010. [Times Change: Time Use 1971–2010], Statistics Norway Time Use Survey 2010


To see the differences according to income and whether there were children, the statistics for internet access at home are most appropriate. By ‘access’ is meant that one has a computer or similar device connected to the internet. The figures in the text were previously linked to actual use.


European Commission (2006): Key Competences for Lifelong Learning – European Reference Framework


NOU 2009: 1 Individ og integritet. Personvern i det digitale samfunnet [Official Norwegian Report on individuals and integrity, and data protection in the digital society] and NOU 2011: 12 Ytringsfrihet og ansvar i en ny mediehverdag [Official Norwegian Report on freedom of expression and responsibility in a new media world]


Report to the Storting No. 11 (2012–2013) Data Protection: Outlook and Challenges


Ministry of Government Administration, Reform and Church Affairs, Ministry of Justice and Public Security, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Transport and Communications (2012): Cyber Security Strategy for Norway


Norwegian Media Authority (2012): Tiltaksplan 2012-13 Barn, unge og Internett [Action Plan for Children, Youth and the Internet], Norwegian Media Authority, Online Safety Network


Wilhelmsen, Janne, Hilde Ørnes, Tove Kristiansen, Jens Breivik (2009): Digitale utfordringer i høyere utdanning [Digital Challenges in Higher Education]. Norway Open University's ICT Monitor, Norgesuniversitetets skriftserie nr. 1/2009


Gotvassli, Kjell-Åge, A.S. Haugset, B. Johansen, G. Nossum, H. Sivertsen (2012): Kompetansebehov i barnehagen. En kartlegging av eiere, styrere og ansattes vurderinger i forhold til kompetanseheving [Competence needs in the kindergarten: A survey of the assessments of owners, leaders and staff regarding raising of competence levels]. Trøndelag forskning og utvikling rapport 2012:1


Ministry of Education and Research (2006): Temahefte om IKT i barnehagen [ICT in the Kindergarten]


Digital Agenda for Europe (2012): Digital Agenda Scoreboard: EU/Eurostat/SSB


Vox (2010): Dataopplæring i biblioteket – en veiledning i hvordan man kan bruke biblioteket som læringsarena [Digital training in the libraries: A guide to using the library as a learning arena]


Vox (2011): Digital kompetanse i befolkningen [Digital Competence in the Population]


PROBA samfunnsanalyse (2012): Evaluering av Program for basiskompetanse i arbeidslivet [Evaluation of Programme for Basic Competence in Working Life], Rapport 2012–08


Regulations pursuant to the Public Roads Act, section 32 concerning deploying and relocating cabling under and along public roads


Nexia (2012): Full bredbåndsdekning i ulike varianter [Full broadband coverage in different varieties], Memorandum prepared for the Ministry of Transport and Communications


Consumer Ombudsman (2011): Forbrukerutfordringer ved koblingssalg av bredbånd, TV og telefoni [Consumer challenges related to bundling of broadband, TV, and telephony]

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