MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines may not be at the forefront of digital infrastructure but when it comes to effective use of the Web to improve people’s lives, the country is second only to Singapore in the ASEAN region.
According to The World Wide Web Foundation’s Web Index measure released this week by Tim Berners-Lee, credited to be the inventor of the Web, the Philippines ranks 32nd — 2nd in ASEAN — in terms of Web utility out of 61 surveyed countries.
Interestingly, the Philippines is only one spot away from India in the index, and ranked higher than neighboring ASEAN nations such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Bangladesh.
Singapore, meanwhile, lands on 11th place for the global ranking; leagues ahead of the Philippines.
According to its website, the Web Index is a “multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations” that includes indicators on the political, economic and social impact of the Web, as well as Web connectivity and infrastructure.
Sweden has been hailed as the nation with the most effective use of the Web in improving people’s lives, as it scores a full 100 on Web impact, 96.76 on Web readiness, and 82.02 on Web use.
The Philippines, on the other hand, scored 48.37 on Web impact, 48.26 on Web readiness, and 39.39 on Web use to bring its aggregate Web index to 46.81.
Web Readiness refers to the quality and extent of communications and institutional infrastructure in a given country, while Web use looks at the Web usage and Web content available to Internet users.
In particular, the survey noted how the Philippines scored poorly on Web use (34.64) and Web content (39.61), as well as the political impact of the Web to Filipinos (33.56).
The country, however, scored better on the social impact of the Web to citizens (58.95), as evidenced by the wise use of social networking sites in times of disasters.
“At a base level, (we are asking) are people actually connected? Have they got something like a phone on which they can access the Web?,” Berners-Lee said in an interview with Reuters.
“On the medium level, there is the content. At the top, is (the Internet) really affecting people’s lives? Can you get a job on the Internet? Are you using it for health, for education? Is it affecting the way you run the country?” he added.
The results highlighted the pervasive notion that Internet connectivity remains a luxury in many parts of the world, Berners-Lee said, something which is preventing “people from achieving their rights to knowledge and participation.”
The survey also takes into account regulatory regimes present in a given country’s Web space, which could explain why the Philippines ranked better on Institutional Infrastructure (51.12) than neighboring nations such as Singapore and China, which have strict Web censorship policies in place.
“The Web is a global conversation,” Berners-Lee said. “Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the Web.”