Developing digital insights

On June 22, Statistics Canada released the first information from the 2020 Canada Internet Use Survey, providing a quantitative window into how “The Internet helped fill the void during the pandemic”.

A few days later, the agency released a follow-up article, “Internet use and COVID-19: How the pandemic increased the amount of time Canadians spend online,” sharing some trend analysis for online activities among various demographics.

Compared with other age groups, the trend of increased participation in online activities during the pandemic was most pronounced among younger Canadians, with over 90% of those 15 to 34 years of age indicating that they had done more activities online. Many senior citizens also engaged in more Internet-related activities during the pandemic, with more than half (54%) of Canadians 65 to 74 years of age reporting more online activities.

It was interesting to see some of the comparative analysis, looking at Canadian internet use versus similar data from the UK. In addition, the report looks at a number of factors that correlate with different levels of internet activity.

Canadians with a university degree were more likely to increase Internet-related activities during the pandemic (90%) than Canadians with some post-secondary education (75%) and high-school or less education (62%). Canadians with knowledge of both English and French were also more likely to engage in Internet-related activities more often since the start of the pandemic (83%) than those with knowledge of only English (76%) and French (50%).

The dramatically lower level of engagement in internet-related activities among unilingual francophones (compared to unilingual anglophones and bilingual Canadians) is an important data point worth further examination. What are the contributing factors? How does this impact service delivery in Quebec for communications services and digital media?

In the past (see: “Better data leads to better decisions”), I talked about Statistics Canada’s Telecommunications data portal, with its wealth of insights that contribute to a far better understanding of the state of the telecommunications industry. The agency has also developed a portal for “Digital economy and society statistics”, intended to “[bring] together data, tools and reports from across the government to provide you the latest information on digital economy and society.”

It is encouraging to see the increased focus by Statistics Canada on data gathering and analysis relevant to our digital economy, helping guide evidence-based policy-making and decision-making for business leaders and government.

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