Some 4.5 million people in the Netherlands have difficulty finding government information online and dealing with the Digid app used to access government services and fill in tax forms, research has shown.
The research, quoted by broadcaster NOS on Monday, found that it is mostly the over 65s, people with few literary skills, and people with learning difficulties who run into trouble. While most would prefer help managing their Digid affairs from a friend or relative, many welcome the possibility of visiting a physical helpdesk at their local library, the researchers said.
Some 682 libraries now offer help and they have dealt with 100,000 requests since 2019, when they were launched. Of those, a quarter concerned the DiGiD app, particularly its installation and activation.
The consequences of failing to use the app can vary from feeling left behind to missing out on benefits and grants.
“But the good news is that we are becoming more aware that we are going too fast as a society,” Stephanie Kuijper of the KB national library told broadcaster NOS.
Kuijper cited research by national bank DNB which showed 2.6 million people had trouble managing their finances online following the closure of many local banks in the last 10 years.
Some 38% of consultations at the library help desks last an average of half an hour, Kuijper said. “And sometimes they take longer. People are so relieved at being finally able to talk to a person who listens to them and helps,” she told the broadcaster.
Wietske Kamsa, of the Digital Alliance, a government-funded organisation aimed at bridging the digital divide, said new DigiD applications, which also confuse people, are tested on users but that there is “tension between user-friendliness and, for instance, privacy rules. And when push comes to shove, the latter is more important,” she said.
DigiD designer Logius said updates of the app could “eliminate some steps that users find difficult.”
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