Technology affects nearly every aspect of daily life, providing convenience and efficiency in areas such as health care, education and communication. Yet not all nations are performing well in the digital space, according to a recent study. The top five countries ranked by their digital quality of life come from different parts of the world, and Australia takes the podium.
Australia ranked highest in the 2019 Digital Quality of Life index, a study produced by Surfshark, a virtual private network based in the British Virgin Islands. The country registered a score of 0.7992 on of a scale of zero to one. Australia was followed by France with a near identical score, and Singapore, at 0.78. None of the countries examined crossed the threshold of 0.8, reflecting room for improvement in various digital areas globally, according to the study's authors.
The Surfshark research is based on open-source information from the databases of multiple sources, including the United Nations, the World Bank, Freedom House and the International Communications Union, The report examined a total population of more than 5.5 billion people in 65 countries and used factored in criteria that included internet connectivity speed, affordability, cybersecurity, the availability of data protection laws, e-government services and others.
In their assessment of Australia, the study's authors credit the affordability of the mobile internet in the country, comparatively high mobile internet speeds and what they label a "solid level of cybersecurity in the country."
Finishing last among the countries studied was Algeria, followed by Ethiopia, Iraq, Egypt and Pakistan. In their remarks about Algeria, the study's authors note the low mobile and broadband internet speeds, low internet affordability, a poor development of electronic government services and the second-lowest score in cybersecurity, barely finishing better than Nepal.
Among other findings in the report:
-- Countries such as Norway, Japan and Canada also keep their standards high in the digital world, with Canada ranking second in internet speed.
-- The United Kingdom, the U.S. and France scored highest in the global cybersecurity criteria while Denmark, Singapore and the U.S. took home the first three spots in availability of e-governance options.
-- The fastest mobile internet speed in the world is in Iceland, followed by Norway and Canada.
-- Iceland also scored high in broadband internet speed, ranking second after Singapore and surpassing South Korea.
Overall, the study showed global internet penetration has surpassed 50% in 2018, up from 29% in 2010. Global social media penetration peaked at 35% from the 14 percentage points in 2010. On average, people spend about 7 hours online daily, the report showed.
Concern over online standards, particularly governing privacy, has been growing around the world. More than 80% of more than 20,000 people surveyed in the 2019 Best Countries report said there is a need to develop some form of global internet standards.
The European Union last year installed a set of rules aimed at better protecting online users' privacy, yet data released earlier this year shows that trust in the internet among EU member states is at a decade low.