The UK has ranked 3rd in the 2012 Worldwide Web Index,
behind the USA in 2nd and Sweden topping the chart. The launch of the Web Index
has been led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man responsible for the invention of
The study has been conducted over the past five years and
ranks 61 countries across the globe to assess the impact of the internet on
people around the world; the data looks at the political, economic and social
impact that the web has on nations.
The Web Index, the
first of which will be compiled annually from now on, is based on three major
factors: Web readiness, which examines communications and institutional
infrastructures; web use, the percentage of web users in each country and the
impact of the web, which uses "social, economic and political indicators to
evaluate the impact of the web on these dimensions”.
The index was initially funded by Google and uses data from
a wide range of sources, including the ITU, the World Bank, Reporters without
Borders and Wikipedia, amongst others. The index is also weighted by openness and
censorship in accordance with the values of the Web Foundation.
"We hear a lot of anecdotes about how people in rural
Africa are using the internet to bring wealth to their local region, but where
is the data? There are no other indexes out there that address not just
connectivity but the web and the world of information. Is it really functioning
and helping humanity? Is the web serving the world?" Berners-Lee
Of all the nations indexed, African countries scored the
worst, with seven of them appearing in the bottom ten, countries in the Asia
Pacific region fared better, with five countries from the area appearing in the
Overall, Yemen scored the lowest due to its lack of
institutional infrastructure, in Western Europe, Italy scored the lowest.
The study was carried out by the World Wide Web Foundation
which was established by Berners-Lee in order to achieve "a
world in which all people can use the Web to communicate, collaborate and
innovate freely, building bridges across the divides that threaten our shared
The research found that the main barriers to web use in some countries is
cost of broadband connections and censorship. Ireland scored well on an economic
basis as "14.8% of its gross domestic product coming from ICT service exports
between 2007 and 2010”, and ranking 10th in the index overall.According to the BBC, Berners –Lee said the
index was important because "By shining a light on the barriers to web for
everyone, the index is a powerful tool that will empower individuals,
government and organisations to improve their societies."