The United States is ranked 8th in the Networked Readiness Index 2012. Although this is a strong performance, it nonetheless represents a drop of three places from last year’s ranking and continues a decline which began in 2008 when the country had the number 3 position. The United States features in the top 10 of six pillars, yet fails to figure in the top three. Almost all dimensions of the Networked Readiness Index offer room for improvement.
The business and innovation environment is more propitious (8th). In this pillar, the availability of venture capital (12th), the tertiary education gross enrolment rate (4th) and the government procurement of advanced technologies (9th) has boosted the United States' score.
In terms of readiness, the country can rely on a very good (6th) and affordable (10th) ICT infrastructure. In order to further boost readiness, efforts are needed to upgrade the skill set of its population (32nd).
In terms of individual usage, the United States fails to play a leading role (18th). Though this number is considered high, it shows that usage is not as widespread as in several other countries, most noticeably the Nordics. For instance, whereas Sweden posts penetration rates of around 90 percent for Internet and PC ownership, the United States’ rates do not exceed 75 percent. Mobile broadband subscriptions are more popular and are highly ranked (8th) with 58 percent of US adults using mobile network applications.
The picture in terms of business usage is brighter, thanks to the country’s innovation capacity (7th). However, the US - once the champion of innovation, challenged only by Japan - has been surpassed during the past two decades by several Asian Tigers, the Nordics, Switzerland, and Israel. Indeed, when taking into account their size, some of these economies are actually more prolific than the United States as measured by the number of patent applications per population. In this business usage pillar, the extent of business internet use in the US is high (8th) although the level at which businesses absorb new technology (18th) could be improved.
Government usage (5th) is highly ranked thanks to the quality of the government’s delivery of online services (2nd) but despite this, the level of priority that the US government places on ICT (31st) lags behind countries from all continents. Rwanda comes in at 3rd in this specific indicator.
In terms of economic impact, the extent to which ICT is creating new business models, services and products in the US is good (10th) as is the way in which ICT is creating new organizational models (remote teams, remote working, telecommuting etc) (2nd). Overall the economic impact (9th) ranks better than the social impact (14th). The impact of ICT on access to basic services (health, education, financial services etc) again shows room for improvement (29th).