The Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index reveals insights into what factors impact a country’s digital wellbeing and which areas should be prioritized for future improvement.
The 2022 DQL Index (fourth edition) offers a unique insight into a country's digital quality of life according to five pillars, including internet affordability, internet quality, electronic infrastructure, electronic security, and electronic government.
DQL is an independent study conducted by Surfshark, a cybersecurity company. If you have any questions regarding the DQL, you can contact us at [email protected]. Surfshark is based in the Netherlands with headquarters in Vilnius, Lithuania
Complete indicator list, DQL Index components, and rationale
Explore DQL or its pillars methodology by selecting one of the tabs
- DQL index
- Internet affordability
- Internet quality
- Electronic infrastructure
- Electronic security
- Electronic government
Methodology & data sources
The 2022 edition of the annual Digital Quality of Life (DQL) Index is the fourth iteration of DQL studies collected in 2019, 2020, and 2021. This year, the DQL Index includes 14 factors that directly influence the digital quality of life in any given country.
Since the results for 2020, 2021, and 2022 are comparable, we were able to accurately track each country's digital progress over the last three years.
Revised from 110 in 2021, the DQL 2022 Index now analyzes 117 countries worldwide according to internet affordability, internet quality, e-infrastructure, e-security, and e-government. These pillars have 14 indicators that help measure overall digital quality of life.
This year’s study includes 7 (6%) more countries than DQL 2021, most of which are on the African continent.
Internet affordability (20%)
Internet affordability determines how much time people have to work to afford a stable internet connection. The affordability of the internet connection directly impacts its accessibility. A less affordable internet impacts digital well-being and vice versa.
Indicator 1: Work time it takes to afford the cheapest mobile internet (seconds) (50% weight within the pillar)
The factor value of mobile internet affordability was determined by dividing the price of the cheapest 1 GB mobile data package by the average hourly wage in a specific country. Then, the index value was taken by dividing the value of the most affordable mobile data package globally by the country’s mobile internet affordability value. It was then multiplied by 0.5 to weight it in the internet affordability pillar which consists of two indicators.
Indicator 2: Work time it takes to afford the cheapest broadband internet (minutes) (50% weight within the pillar)
The factor value of broadband affordability was determined by dividing the lowest broadband internet package price by the average hourly wage in a specific country. Then, the index value was taken by dividing the value of the most affordable broadband package globally by the factor value. It was then multiplied by 0.5 to weight it in the internet affordability pillar which consists of two indicators.
Internet quality (20%)
Internet quality measures how fast and stable the internet connectivity in a country is and how well it’s improving. The quality of internet connectivity greatly depends on its speed and stability. Slow and unstable connections inhibit daily use and diminish work efficiency, while fast and stable connections allow for better communication, high-quality content, and more.
Indicator 3: Mobile speed (Mbps)
To index global mobile internet speed, we first took the 12-month average of the mean monthly download speed in any specific country from April 2021 to April 2022. We then divided it by the highest global yearly average download speed value and weighted it by 0.2.
Indicator 4: Broadband speed (Mbps)
Broadband speed index was measured in the same way as the mobile speed index.
Indicator 5: Mobile internet stability (indexed value)
Mobile internet connection stability was taken by comparing the download speed changes each month. If the sum change in the mobile download speed during the 12 months was equal to zero, countries were considered to have a stable internet connection and were assigned a value of 1. If the change was negative, the percentile modulus difference was deducted from the max value of 1. Then, the stability factor value was weighted by 0.15.
Indicator 6: Broadband internet stability (indexed value)
Broadband internet stability index was measured in the same way as mobile internet stability.
Indicator 7: Mobile internet speed growth (indexed value)
The mobile internet speed growth was determined by calculating the slope of mobile internet speed over the period of April 2021 to April 2022. Then, the index value was derived by dividing the country’s slope value (Mbps/month) by the highest global slope value. If the slope value of mobile download speed was negative, countries were assigned a value of 0. Then, the growth factor value was weighted by 0.15.
Indicator 8: Broadband internet speed growth (indexed value)
Broadband internet speed growth was determined in the same way as mobile internet speed growth.
Electronic infrastructure (20%)
Electronic infrastructure determines how well developed and inclusive is a country’s existing electronic infrastructure. Highly functional e-infrastructure enables people to use the internet daily for many purposes, such as studying, e-commerce, entertainment, banking, and similar, meaning a better digital experience.
Indicator 9: Individuals using the internet (per 100 inhabitants) (50% weight within the pillar)
The internet use factor was derived by dividing the number of individuals using the internet in a specific country by the number of individuals using the internet in the country with the highest value. Then, the factor was weighted by 0.5 as one of the two indicators of the e-infrastructure pillar.
Indicator 10: Network readiness (NRI) (index)
The Network Readiness Index was determined by weighting the NRI value from the Portulans Institute that hosted the Digital Transformation Dialogue Series by 0.5.
Electronic security (20%)
Electronic security measures how safe and protected people feel in a country. E- security shows a country’s readiness to counter cybercrimes and its commitment to protecting online privacy.
Indicator 11: Cybersecurity (index)
To account for cybersecurity in the examined countries, the National Cyber Security Index (NCSI), developed by e-Governance Academy Foundation, was used for its viability and the extent of data inclusivity. The NCSI index was weighted by 0.5 as one of the two indicators of the e-security pillar.
Indicator 12: Data protection laws (indexed value)
We indexed the data protection laws indicator by assigning a value from 0 to 5 depending on the existence and completeness of legislation regarding personal data protection in a country. The quality of data protection was benchmarked against the EU’s General Data Protection Directive as the best example of personal data protection legislation. The values were assigned in the following order: 0 - no specific laws or data (none); 1 - some data protection law(s); 2 - independent authority and law(s), 3 - partially adequate laws, 4 - adequate laws, 5 - GDPR level of data protection. To index the assigned values, they were divided by the highest value of data protection (5) and weighed by 0.5.
Electronic government (20%)
Electronic government determines how advanced and digitized are a country’s government services. Better e-government helps to minimize bureaucracy, reduce corruption and increase transparency within the public sector. It also improves the efficiency of public services and helps people save time, influencing the quality of their digital lives.
Indicator 13: Online Service Index (index)
To determine e-government user-friendliness, we used the United Nations Online Service Index (OSI) for its inclusivity. The OSI is a composite part of the UN’s E-Government Development Index (EGDI). The OSI is based on the extent of a country’s government’s online presence. To weigh up the OSI index, it was multiplied by a factor of 0.5.
Indicator 14: AI readiness (index)
The AI readiness indicates a country’s capacity to harness potential and efficiency through artificial intelligence. The indicator was created using the Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2020 which was developed by Oxford Insights and the International Development Research Centre. The index was normalized to fit the DQL logic by dividing a country’s AI index score by the highest AI index global score and weighing it by 0.5.
- Portulans Institute. (2021). Network Readiness Index
- e-Governance Academy Foundation. (2022). National Cyber Security Index (NCSI)
- Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés. (2021). Data Protection Laws
- EGOVKB. (2020). United Nations e-Government Survey
- Oxford Insights. (2021). Government Artificial Intelligence Readiness Index 2021
- Speedtest. (2022). Speedtest Global Index
- Cable. (2022). Worldwide mobile data pricing
- Cable. (2022). The cost of fixed-line broadband
- Numbeo. (2022). Average Monthly Net Salary (After Tax)
- U.S. Department of State. (2015). Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
- Statistics Times. (2020). GDP Indicators 2021
- Internet World Stats. (2021). Internet Usage Statistics
- Worldmeter .(2022). World Population
- UNSD. (2021). Regions
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