Scotland’s Digital Strategy – Progress report published

May 22, 2024 by No Comments | Category Digital Scotland, Digital Strategy

Blog post by Yorath Turner, Chief Operating Officer for Digital, Scottish Government.

A progress report entitled ‘A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world: Progress report 2021 – 2024’ has been published on the Scottish Government website.

Scotland’s Digital Strategy, “A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world” was originally published on 11 March 2021. It was a collaboration between the Scottish Government and Local Government, represented by COSLA and the Digital Office for Scottish Local Government.

The Strategy aimed to ensure that Scotland could fully embrace the transformative power of technology by realising the power of data to improve services, increase efficiency and deliver better outcomes. It also focused on how digital technology is designed and implemented, guaranteeing that it is applied in an ethical, secure, efficient and user-centred way.

The strategy made a number of commitments covering three broad objectives:

  1. “People and place” – that all businesses and people should have access to good quality connectivity; the skills and confidence to use digital technology and be reassured that digital technology is used in an ethical way;
  2. “A strong digital economy” – to help all businesses become digital businesses, and to support our digital technology sector; and
  3. “Digital Government and Services” – to change the culture of public service organisations so that they deliver digital services that are resilient, accessible, and easy to use.

Progress summary

Working with partners we’ve made significant progress against the ambitions set out in the 2021 strategy. The publication summarises our progress against each of the commitments, but for the purposes of this blog we’ve chosen to highlight a few examples:

“People and place”

The Scottish Government is investing over £600 million in its ‘Reaching 100%’ (R100) programme – one of the most ambitious and complex digital infrastructure programmes in Europe. Through the three strands of activity that make up the R100 programme – the R100 contracts, our R100 Scottish Broadband Voucher Scheme (R100 SBVS) and continued commercial coverage, we are delivering future-proofed digital connectivity for decades to come to many of Scotland’s hardest-to-reach communities.

The vast majority of this infrastructure – particularly that being deployed through the R100 contracts – is delivering access to gigabit-capable broadband, which is more than 30 times faster than our original commitment. The contracts are now delivering at pace and remain on track to ensure all contracted premises are connected by 2028. The R100 North contract will extend access to faster broadband across 49 Scottish islands, and has already successfully delivered 16 new fibre optic subsea cables to 15 of those islands.

Where a premises is beyond the reach of the R100 contracts or commercial build plans, our R100 SBVS offers up to £5,000 to eligible premises to secure, as a minimum, a superfast connection. The Scottish Government will also act as contracting authority for local (Type A) and regional (Type B) Project Gigabit procurements in Scotland. The first Project Gigabit procurement outside of England was launched in Scotland on 7th May 2024 in the Scottish Borders and East Lothian region.

“A strong digital economy”

Scotland’s AI Strategy, published in 2021, set out a vision for Scotland to become a leader in the development and use of trustworthy, ethical and inclusive AI. The Scottish AI Alliance are a partnership between The Data Lab and the Scottish Government and are responsible for the delivery of the strategy. Several key products have been delivered including the Children and AI programme, the Scottish AI Register and the Living with AI course.

To promote and accelerate 5G adoption we have invested £14.5 million in the Scotland 5G Centre, including its network of seven 5G innovation hubs. And recognising that Local Government has the potential to be a major market for IoT technologies, the Local Government Digital Office is working in partnership with CENSIS, Scotland’s Internet of Things Innovation Centre, to promote and accelerate adoption within Local Government.

“Digital Government and Services”

The Scottish Government’s ScotPayments is a pioneering collaboration with public sector partners, reshaping payments processes across the public sector. Ongoing enhancements to the service include the implementation of the Confirmation of Payee feature, to further fortify fraud protection. As a robust Minimum Viable Service, it efficiently processed over £22 million in outbound payments, using automated functions to reduce manual processing and mitigate the risk of fraud and error. The programme is poised to deliver substantial savings over a 10-year period, by streamlining processes, reducing system downtime, speeding up payment processing, and minimising errors by cutting manual step.

The Scottish Government’s Cloud Platform Service is now offered as a live service from April 2024, meeting the performance and security needs of government and public facing services. This common platform service gives Scottish Government and Scottish public sector organisations simplified, secure and discounted access to cloud technologies in order to host their systems/workloads effectively in line with Scottish Government and industry standards.

You can read about these examples and many more, including case studies, in the progress report.

Next steps

Work will begin shortly on the next iteration of a Digital Strategy for Scotland, look out for further updates on our blog pages in the coming months.

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