Scotland’s New Digital Strategy

The Digital Directorate of the Scottish government recently published A Changing Nation: How Scotland Will Thrive In A Digital World, a new strategy which sets out the country’s ambitions for a more inclusive digital society.

The report is a 100+ page document, which outlines the government’s use of digital technology, as well as promoting the digital sector, improving the use of data across public services and the national economy, and ensuring nobody is left behind by technological advancement.

The Digital Strategy focuses on:

  • People And Place
  • A Strong Digital Economy
  • Digital Government & Services

There are several significant announcements across the strategy, including the creation of a national digital identity platform. The Digital Government section states: “We will develop and establish a trusted and secure service for users to prove who they are, and that they are eligible for a service,”. “Users will be able to store their information and choose to share it when applying to public services.”

The strategy also pledges widespread digital transformation across a broad range of government services, and a more cohesive approach across organisational boundaries both inside and outside government. The strategy document says: “We will set out new and ambitious reform programmes for key areas of government, including health and social care, learning, justice, planning, schools and agriculture and the rural economy,”.

“Recognising that delivery processes, and the user experience, often cross traditional departmental boundaries, much of this work will require the breaking down of those traditional barriers.”

User Focused Future

The strategy also makes it clear that a user-focused and climate aware approach will drive the planned transformation: “These services and transformations in each priority area, a partnership of Scottish Government, local authorities, and other key stakeholders will work together to set out new, greener ways of working to help deliver a net-zero society, that are centred around the people who use our services to improve their wellbeing, and ensure it is easier to deal online with all levels of government.”

The user-focused approach means that inclusion and accessibility will be integral to the design and delivery of services: “We will make design decisions through the lenses of inclusion and offer clearly signposted alternative ways of accessing services for those who cannot, or do not want to, use digital routes,”.

“This will include the development of tools, processes and approaches that will allow identity to be established in a secure and sympathetic way for the digitally excluded. We will ensure that face-to-face services continue to be provided when they are necessary and enhanced, where possible, by technologies that support staff with local decision making and service delivery.”

Security and resilience are also core components of this new approach, with a “secure-by-design approach is adopted across the supply chain”. Adherence to the 2018 Scottish Approach to Service Design guidelines willadvised for the whole public sector. The government will commit to using common and transparent digital and data standards, as well as agreeing on common operating platforms for the processes across all government services.

CivTech 2.0

The government is also promising to take the pioneering and innovative CivTech programme, which allows public bodies to seek new and innovative solutions to government or public problems, will be turned into a permanent Service Innovation Centre.

The Strategy states that the new centre will “take public service problems and challenges and support entrepreneurs and small businesses to create, launch and implement digital solutions,”. With the backing of the entire Scottish public sector the country’s reputation for innovation and its competitive position in the international GovTech market will receive even greater support.

Critical National Infrastructure

The Strategy also outlines the government’s intention to “recognise that digital and data infrastructure is critical national infrastructure and that this includes far more than physical connections”. It goes on to state that ALL parts of the country and all citizens should “have access to good-quality connectivity now and in the future”.

Giving every citizen the digital skills they needs to be an active and informed participant will be crucial in delivering Scotland’s digital future. The strategy notes that improving skills throughout the education and training system will be a vital part of the programme with the goal of rapiadly increasing the number of digitally skilled individuals graduating from Scottish colleges and universities.

Digital Skills For All

However, the strategy is not just focusing upon the next generation. It also seeks to ensure that every citizen – of whatever age – will have the skills, confidence and equipment to enable them to engage effectively in the new digital world. Scotland, the strategy states, will “agree on an ethical framework, to define the sort of nation we wish to become,”.

Digital Economy

The Digital Economy section of the strategy outlines an ambitious goal to support all companies to be “secure digital businesses”, as well as increasing the ability to recruit and develop digital skills of the workforce. As a nation, Scotland wishes to “create the conditions for technology businesses to grow, thrive, create jobs and attract investment” – including rural areas and the islands.

This will involve tapping into the “potential of national and local government within Scotland’s digital ecosystem to stimulate and scale innovation in ways that meet public service and environmental challenges at home and abroad”.

Conclusion – A Changing Nation

However you look at this work, How Scotland Will Thrive In A Digital World is a bold attempt to build a platform for an innovative and inclusive Scotland, which can make full use of the rapid evolution of digital technology for every citizen.

The strategy links directly into the recommendations and output from the Logan Review, with regard to the economy, digital skills and education, while the focus on CivTech ensures innovation is at the heart of government and the public sector.

The ambition is huge and the scope is admirble. It will take a huge amount of effort to make everything contained within the strategy to fruition, and require every organisation and stakeholder to change their mindset and approach, but with clear goals, a real focus on the inclusion of everyone in Scotland, this could truly be transformative.

How we ensure the videogames ecosystem is an active and engaged part of this vision, is in our own hands.


You can download the complete A Changing Nation: How Scotland Will Thrive In A Digital World strategy document here.

Photo by Chris Flexen on Unsplash

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