Scotland’s updated digital strategy was published last week – not surprisingly I would encourage everyone to read it and get a sense of how we believe that Scotland can thrive in a digital world. https://www.gov.scot/publications/a-changing-nation-how-scotland-will-thrive-in-a-digital-world/.
The strategy is, of course, being published, at an extraordinary time. Our thoughts are rightly with those who have suffered in so many ways and those who have worked so tirelessly to help others. The use of digital technology is only a very small part of the story, but I do believe that it’s worth telling and worth reflecting on – as the updated strategy does – how it has changed our economy, society and approach to public services so dramatically. Every sector of our economy has spun up new services and scaled old ones, embeded new digital business models and worked remotely in unprecedented numbers. We’ve relied on digital infrastructure to shop, engage with public services and keep in touch with our family and friends – and we’ve seen a compelling illustration of the importance of digital inclusion.
It’s against this background – the interest and opportunity it’s created in digital transformation, culture and business models – we have chosen to set out our plans. I can’t summarise it here, but I think it should rise to the top of that pile of reading that many of us collect because I believe it’s a strategy that truly reflects the world in which we live – the digital world with its ability to network, exchange data and collaborate at a speed that changes everything. I think this can be seen in a number of ways:
First, it’s been produced jointly by Scottish Government and Scottish Local Government – with each having an equal voice and both being committed equally to its delivery – both at a policy level and through very practical commitments to common standards and a shared Digital Academy. This it seems to me is collaboration in practice;
Second, it commits Scotland to engaging with other governments to develop ideas and promote solutions to truly global international challenges – around the ethical use of data, the regulation of the technology industry, the application of technology to tackling climate change. No one country has a monopoly of wisdom, and no one country has all the levers required to respond to what are, in many senses, the defining public policy challenges of our age;
Third, it positions government in Scotland at the heart of an ecosystem – familiar words, I know, to those involve in Digital Leaders – but words that we translate into new ways of working with the commercial market, extending our CivTech incubator to use public sector challenges to stimulate and scale new businesses and working to support the third sector in its own plans for digital transformation;
Finally – and I believe this runs through the whole document – the strategy aims to ensure that everybody benefits from the opportunities that lie ahead. A focus on inclusive design, on developing digital skills, extending connectivity and tackling the financial barriers to digital inclusion by building on our Connecting Scotland programme to ensure world class levels of digital inclusion.
Our strategy is about enabling our country – the whole of our country – to thrive. I know you all have many competing demands on you at the moment, but I hope you find something in it that’s useful and would really love to hear any comments you might have.