Big data, AI, social media, the Internet of things and cybersecurity are transforming our work environments as well as our life as citizens and consumers but more than 56% of Europeans is still lacking the basic skills and competences to navigate effectively this new world. The indication emerges from the data collected in the first two weeks of REIsearch’s 2018 campaign launched across Europe in six languages (English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish) with the support of nine leading European media organisations – including Der Standard, El País, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Les Échos, Irish Times, Il Sole24ore, Público, EuroScientist and Elsevier, to assess and improve the digital competences of European citizens.
The data was collected online through iNerd, a gamified quiz on 4 topics: big data and AI, IoT, cybersecurity and privacy, and social and new media. Overall, iNerd has been played at game.reisearch.eu or on media partners sites by almost 9.000 Europeans delivering “Steve Jobs” or “Mr Bean” badges to be shared on social channels with the tag: #HowNerdyAreYou. The game remains active and the data collected so far shows that less than 1 in 10 Europeans (9,53%) scores high enough to win the “Nerd in Chief” badge, while more than 1 in 2 (56,3%) respondents obtains a digital “Mr Bean” badge having trouble defining an echo chamber or a kilobyte. More than 1 out of 3 respondents (34,7%) has however an intermediate level of skills.
On average, the areas where Europeans seem more competent are big data, artificial intelligence and IoT while cybersecurity, privacy and social media remain more obscure.
Men seem to fare slightly better answering correctly 47% of the times while women respond successfully on 44% of questions. Overall, French speakers emerge as the nerdiest group with the highest scores in three areas (social and new media; cybersecurity and privacy; big data and AI) while Germans come out first on IoT and second in all others. Spanish and Italian speakers come in third overall but with different strengths: the first seem more skilled in social media and big data while the second score better on IoT and cybersecurity and privacy. Portuguese come in fifth overall but show the lowest awareness in the cybersecurity and privacy area while English speakers, which constitute more than 65% of respondents, show the lowest scores in three areas out of four: big data and Ai, IoT and social and new media.
Upon completion of each session (iNerd can be played multiple times to test one’s improvements) the player’s score has lead him to a selection of explanatory videos and articles meant to improve his weaker spots. The videos, 24 in total, have been produced by REIsearch and feature eight leading European experts in the fields of big data and Ai, social and new media, Internet of things as well as privacy and cybersecurity.
REIsearch is a non-profit European initiative co-funded by the European Commission to demonstrate how a technological tool, coupled to a broad network of leading media, research institutions, researchers, civil society organisations, and citizens, can help policy makers to make better use of all knowledge and experience – wherever it may come from – to make better decisions, based on evidence and experience, for the benefit of society as a whole.
This article is part of REIsearch, a citizen and media engagement campaign aimed at assessing and improving the digital competences of European citizens. It follows in the steps of the 2016 endeavour on chronic diseases which engaged more than 60,000 people.
Michelangelo Baracchi Bonvicini, president, Atomium – EISMD (European Institute Science Media and Democracy)