Mapping your users’ access to communication channels

Understanding your users

Mapping your users’ access to communication channels

We use something called a radar chart to measure your users’ access to the five technologies – a radio, TV, basic mobile phone, smart phone, tablet or laptop

A pentagon with five axes - TV, radio, non-smart phone, smartphone and laptop. Two rings mark 25% and 50%, with 100% being the outer edge of the pentagon.
A radar chart.

To complete a radar chart, use the best data you can gather to estimate how many households in your country or region have access to a device.

An example of a radar chart for a high-income country

A radar chart with an internal, irregular pentagon mapping user access to each of the five axes as a percentage. 100% of users have access to TV, Radio and Internet. 50% have access to a smartphone and laptop. Red arrows point outward along the laptop and smatrphone access.
This chart shows the values for a (very) high-income country.

The red arrows show possible changes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis – that means we think those households that do not have a smartphone, laptop or tablet could buy one if they need to.

  • All households have access to a TV and a radio (or access to radio via internet)
  • Almost all households have access to at least one smartphone, and often more than one; those households that do not have a smartphone normally have elderly residents
  • Less than 100% of households have access to a laptop or tablet

The red arrows show possible changes as a result of the COVID-19 crisis – that means we think those households that do not have a smartphone, laptop or tablet could buy one if they need to.

High-income country compared to a low-income country

The same image as previously, except now in addition there is a second irregular pentagon inside the one that maps access within a high income country. This smaller pentagon maps 90% access to radio, 45% access to radio and non-smart phopne, 25 access to smartphone and 10% access to laptops. The red arrows pointing outwards along the axes are much shorter than those in the previous image.
This chart shows the values for a (very) high-income country and those for a low-income country.

In low-income countries, we expect:

  • Less than 100% of households have one radio, but many households can access them
  • Many households have TVs and basic mobile phones
  • Few households have smartphones
  • Very few households have tablets or laptops

In this chart, the red arrows show that it is unlikely many households could afford to buy new devices, even in an emergency.

Comparing the different populations within a country

A pentagon with three internal irregular pentagons of decreasing sizes, mapping access to communication devices along the five axes.
This radar chart compares different income brackets within a single country.

In a low-income country, most households will live on low incomes, but there will be some middle- and high-income households.

In a middle-income country, the most households will be middle-income but there may well be a large low-income population too.

Planning for the whole population

A graph of three lines, each broken into three segments, showing that as  income rises, access to technology increases.
The image shows the populations of low- middle- and high-income countries.

Population and income analysis tell us that an Internet based distance learning programme will reach few people in a low-income country.

One solution often suggested is to give low-income populations devices they could not afford themselves. Recent experience in the UK has shown that even in high-income countries, this approach poses difficulties.

It is better to create a distance learning programme that meets the needs of users as they exist now instead of trying to change the user’s circumstances to fit the programme you wish to deliver.


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