Scottish Government launch digital consultation

Six key themes have been outlined in a digital public consultation launched by the Scottish Government as it seeks to add fresh impetus to a digital strategy outlined five years ago.

Connectivity, economy, skills, public services, participation, cyber security and resilience are all part of a call for responses published on the ideas.gov.scot platform.

Responses to the consultation will all be considered as part of a pledge made in the Scottish Parliament last week to “refresh” the national digital strategy, which was published in 2011 but is yet to be updated.

“While the high-level aims of the digital strategy are still relevant today, the vast majority of the actions it describes have been delivered over the past five years,” the consultation reads.

“During this same period, the nature of digital, and our understanding of the opportunities it provides, have evolved, and the pace of change across the wider economy and society has accelerated.”

A debate was held in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, November 3, on ‘realising Scotland’s full potential in a digital world’. MSPs debated a range of issues including skills, connectivity and participation.

Areas of concern highlighted included the fact that much of rural Scotland may never be reached by the £410m connectivity programme being carried out by digital Scotland superfast broadband—DSSB. Highlands and Islands MSPs are calling on government to support alternative solutions such as satellite technology to ensure remote parts of Scotland are able to access high quality, and fast, digital services.

One MSP, Mike Rumbles (Liberal Democrats), also questioned whether the existing scheme was delivering the services it advertised, suggesting that it was just the roadside ‘green cabinets’ that were being connected, and not individual households.

The ‘digital divide’ was also raised by MSPs, with Monica Lennon (LAB), quoting a stastic from last year’s Scottish household survey which found that just 60 per cent of households with an income of £15,000 per year or less had access to the internet compared with 98 per cent of households with incomes of more than £40,000.

And on skills, there were calls for digital to be included in the basic education from the youngest primary school child to those who leave with advanced qualifications.

Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, who has responsibility for digital, said: “I hope that, when we publish the refreshed strategy, it will cover all the areas that are of interest across the public and private sectors. It will be not just a Government strategy but a strategy for Scotland. It will look at skills, physical infrastructure and cybersecurity, which some members touched on.

“We want to engage on those issues and continue to build a picture of what will work for Scotland. I am delighted to announce that we have launched an online interactive dialogue app so that we can capture a wider and more diverse range of views as we take our strategy forward.”

The consultation closes on Thursday 24 November, 2016.

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