About the Web Index

About the Web Index

Designed and produced by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Web Index is the first multi-dimensional measure of the World Wide Web’s contribution to development and human rights globally. It covers 81 countries, incorporating indicators that assess the areas of universal access; freedom and openness; relevant content; and empowerment.

First released in 2012, the 2013 Index has been expanded and refined to include 20 new countries and features an enhanced data set, particularly in the areas of gender, Open Data, privacy rights and censorship. The Index combines existing secondary data with new primary data derived from an evidence-based expert assessment survey.

This is the second edition of the Web Index, which will be published annually. It will eventually allow for comparisons of trends over time and the benchmarking of performance across countries, continuously improving our understanding of the Web’s value for humanity.

Why Create an Index?

Much of the Web research that exists measures quantifiable metrics, such as the number of Web users, speed of access to the Web, the number of broadband subscribers, or covers particular single-dimensions such as economic impact or censorship. Tim Berners-Lee recognized that in order to better measure progress to developing a more open and meaningful Web, and for the Web to attain its full potential as a transformative tool that can improve living standards, reduce conflict and improve governance and well-being, it is important to understand how the Web impacts social, developmental, economic and political dimensions as well.

By compiling data across many different dimensions of Web health and making it freely available, the Web Index will help deepen and broaden our understanding of how countries can maximise the impact of this powerful tool. The results can be utilized by decision makers across the public and private sectors, as well as academia, NGOs, and the technology industry itself.

What Issues does the Web Index Cover?

The Web Index assesses the Web’s contribution to development and human rights around the world.

The Index measures and ranks:

  • Universal Access: This sub-Index measures whether countries have invested in affordable access to high quality internet infrastructure, as well as investing in the education and skills citizens need to use the Web well.
  • Freedom and Openness: This sub-Index assesses the extent to which citizens enjoy rights to information, opinion, expression, safety and privacy online.
  • Relevant Content: This sub-Index maps both Web use by citizens and the content available in each country, with an emphasis on the extent to which different stakeholders can access information that is relevant to them, in the language that they are most comfortable using and via platforms and channels that are widely available.
  • Empowerment: This sub-Index aims to assess the difference that the Web is making to people, and the extent to which use of the Web by stakeholders is fostering positive change in four key areas: society, economy, politics and environment.