PH ranks No. 32 in global index on impact of the Web

SWEDEN is best in the world at putting the Web to work, ahead of the United States and the United Kingdom, according to a new global study launched by Tim Berners-Lee on behalf of the Web Foundation.

Out of the 61 developed and developing countries surveyed in The Web Index, the Philippines placed No. 32, with an overall score of 46.8, or barely half the perfect score of 100.

The Philippines scored 48.4 for “web impact,” 48.3 for “web readiness,” and 39.4 for web content, connectivity infrastructure, and web use.

Of the member-states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), only Singapore (No.11) bested the Philippines.

However, Manila outranked Indonesia (No.34), Thailand (No.37), and Vietnam (No.47). Five other ASEAN members, namely Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, and Brunei were not included in the Index’s first-year run.

Designed and produced by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Web Index is “the world’s first multidimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility, and impact on people and nations.”

The 61 countries surveyed were assessed using primary and secondary data sources on the political, economic, and social impact of the Web, as well as for indicators of Web connectivity, infrastructure, web content, and web use. The study focused on available data as of 2011.

The Index measured and ranked the countries according to:

-Web Readiness or “the quality and extent of Communications Infrastructure (facilitating connectivity to the Web) and Institutional Infrastructure (policies regulating Web access and skill and educational levels enabling the full benefit of the Web).”

- Web Useor Web usage within countries (such as the percentage of individuals who use the Internet) and the content available to these Web users.”

- Web Impact assessed through social, economic and political indicators, including measures of social networks, business Internet use, and e-participation.

The Web Foundation said it will now start publishing Index every year to allow for “comparisons of trends over time and the benchmarking of performance across countries, continuously improving our understanding of the Web’s value for humanity.”

A press dispatch on the study said “the Web remains a largely untapped resource in much of the world, with only 1 in 3 people using it globally and fewer than 1 in 6 in Africa.”

The Index reveals that high broadband prices and trends toward censorship are major barriers to making the Web useful to all, the statement added.

The study showed that “almost 30 per cent of countries covered by the Index face moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites, while about half of them show increasing threats to press freedom.”

“The Web is a global conversation. Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the Web,” warned Berners-Lee.

The study noted that in most countries surveyed, “broadband connections still cost almost half of monthly income per capita.”

Berners-Lee was quoted in the statement as saying that “the high price of connectivity is stopping billions of people from achieving their rights to knowledge and participation. Costs have got to come down dramatically.”

Outside the member-states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development or OECD, “the growth of successful Web-based businesses remains surprisingly poor… showing that the Web’s economic potential is also going untapped in many countries.”

Nonetheless, the positive findings from the Index include the spread of e-governance or “government data and services being made available to citizens online, as well as initiatives to encourage online participation in decision-making.”

The study showed that middle-income countries “are improving their e-governance capacities faster than the West, with Korea, Singapore and Colombia among the world’s top innovators in this sphere.”

After Sweden, the US, and the UK, the other countries on the Top 10 list of The Web Index are, in order of ranking: Canada, Finland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Norway, and Ireland.

Yemen landed last on the list (No.61) with a score of zero, after Zimbabwe’s 1.9 (No.60).

The other countries on the Bottom 10 list of the Web Index, by ascending order of rank, are Burkina Faso, Benin, Ethiopia, Namibia, Bangladesh, Mali, Cameroon, and Nepal.

“Since its invention by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, and its subsequent explosive growth,” the study noted that “the World Wide Web has had a profound impact on humanity. This impact is evolving continuously with the creation of new content, connectivity software and infrastructure.”

“Although the Web has been an important catalyst of social, political and economic change over the past two decades, its impact — both negative and positive—has been unevenly felt both within and across countries,” it added.

The Web Index report was written by Hania Farhan of the Web Foundation, and Debra D’Agostino and Henry Worthington of Oxford Economics.

Oxford Economics assisted in the production of the Index, and played a central role in econometrics work. Global Integrity set up and implemented the Expert Assessment survey via their Indaba platform.

Two consultative bodies provided valuable advice: The Web Index Steering Group and the Web Index Science Council.

The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism served as country researcher for the Philippines.