7 Digital Participation
Progress to Date
Through the Choose Digital First programme, we are working with a broad range of public, private and third sector partners to ensure that everyone has access to and can make the best use of digital technologies. This is essential if we are to take advantage of the economic, social and cultural opportunities that will flow from our investment in digital infrastructure.
The most recent report from Ofcom published in July 2012 shows a 7% increase in broadband take up, bringing Scotland into line with Wales and Northern Ireland (68/69%.) This is highly encouraging progress towards the participation targets described in our initial strategy and suggests that we are on the right track in ensuring that the benefits of the digital age are not confined to a few.
Whilst this way of measuring digital participation is showing the progress we have made in Scotland in a good light, we are concerned that it is neither comprehensive nor accurate enough to provide a true picture of digital participation. The methodology has a statistical variance of between 2% -8% and is not flexible enough to reflect the increasing range of options that are now available in terms online access.
Consequently, we intend to develop a more comprehensive picture of digital participation, as part of a new overarching measurement framework for the digital strategy, which will enable us to consider the degree to which Scotland can be regarded as a digital nation in comparison to the leading economies of the world, rather than merely within the UK context. This measurement framework is being developed currently and will be set out as part of future communication of our vision of our World Class 2020 infrastructure programme
The aim of the Choose Digital First programme is to ensure that people choose to go on line because they regard it as the most convenient and effective means of accessing the goods and services they want. This requires a recognition that the motivation to go online and the barriers to such motivation vary according to a wide range of geographic, social and cultural factors and that therefore action to stimulate greater participation needs to include tailored messages and be delivered through a range of different channels.
The starting point for this work was the launch of the Digital Participation Charter following the Microsoft Govcamp held in Scotland in November 2011. This committed signatories such as JP Morgan, Cisco, SOPRA and the University of Edinburgh to sharing information and resources to improve the rate of digital participation across Scotland. It has spawned a number of individual work streams, coordinated through the Digital Participation Action Group, designed to address youth employment, education, smart working, open data and the digital requirements of older people.
Digital Skills for Life
If Scotland is to be a truly world leading digital nation we need all of our people to have the digital skills that they will require throughout their lives. That means ensuring that all individuals, whatever their age, backgrounds or current situations can be supported to make best use of the digital technologies that are available to them.
Our 'Learning ICT' programme is designed to develop a user-centred environment to take forward Scotland's digital ambition for learning and to ensure that Scotland's teachers, learners and parents can take full advantage of opportunities offered by digital services and content. Key aspects of the programme include:
- Curriculum Development for ICT project, designed to ensure young people have access to relevant and up-to-date skills, knowledge and content (e.g. computing science, ICT skills, numeracy) through Curriculum for Excellence.(CfE)
- Continuing investment in Glow (Scotland's national education intranet) which supports learning and teaching through significant improvements in the tools and services that are made available.
- The appointment of the Chief Scientific Adviser Professor Muffy Calder to chair the ICT in Education Excellence Group, which will define the requirements for a future Glow system that will continue to support the principles of CfE, harness the power of new and changing technologies to support learning and provide a seamless user-centred experience.
We also want to ensure that the confidence and capacity our school children is maintained as they become young learners and move into further education, training or work. Our ambition is to empower, enthuse and motivate learners, giving them a clearer sense of the choices available. We want to help them make better decisions by presenting information to them in a way that they themselves shape, using new approaches, technologies and channels they can relate to. This demands a deep insight into what learners need and we have worked with a design consultancy, to speak to learners in school, college and university and then to work with them to develop ideas that they think would improve the system. We will bring forward proposals for a coordinated approach to the Post 16 education landscape to better inform learners, parents, employers and others about how these changes will benefit them.
The switchover from analogue to digital television in Scotland was completed on 21 June 2011. As part of the opportunities offered by the greater availability of electro-magnetic spectrum resources for terrestrial broadcasting, the Scottish Government has been pressing for implementation of the recommendation by the Scottish Broadcasting Commission for a Scottish Digital Network on free-to-air digital terrestrial television, funded from licence fee resources (or possibly as an interim measure, from revenue from the sale of 4G licences once digital switchover is complete). In the context of the Scotland Act 2012 the Scottish Government proposed amendments to give the Scottish Parliament statutory powers to establish public service broadcasting institutions, which would fulfil the legislative requirement to establish the Scottish Digital Network, in the event the UK Government was unwilling to support such a measure.
Making a Difference
MOBILISED (Mobile Information Services in East Dunbartonshire)
Libraries and their partners in East Dunbartonshire offer taster sessions to introduce information technology to beginners and intermediate learners. Scottish Libraries Information Council (SLIC) provided some iPads, and other mobile technologies such as e-readers to older learners in care homes, sheltered housing, community centres, churches and other meeting places and support was provided through on-to-one tutoring sessions delivered by pupils from local schools. This project secured high levels of community involvement and is a great example of an inter-generational approach to encouraging higher levels of digital participation in a group who may not be able to gain access to the internet without this support.
Going Further Faster
While the recent growth in participation reported by Ofcom is very encouraging, there is some way to go to realise our participation ambitions. Nearly 25% of Scots are currently missing out on the economic, social and cultural benefits that the internet can bring and this is creating a digital divide, with those on lower incomes and older age groups being least likely to be online. Despite a 10% increase last year, broadband take up in Glasgow is significantly below the national average.
Working with our public and private sector partners, we will draw together previously separate strands of work into a single national programme that will be capable of making a sustained impact on both consumer and business behaviours, as well as attracting the active support and involvement of private sector partners. The Choose Digital First programme will aim to go beyond the narrow aim of getting people on line and will encompass activity to increase the extent of that participation and ensure that individuals and businesses are able to derive the economic, social and other benefits that can flow from digital participation. This will look at how we can facilitate the generation of new content in stimulating interest and demand, including consideration of the role that platforms such as digital television might play in delivering services to ensure that individuals and businesses are able to derive the economic, social and other benefits of being digitally connected.
As part of this programme, we will assess whether we have the right resources and structures in place to take full advantage of the undoubted enthusiasm that exists amongst stakeholders for this critical agenda. The Digital Participation Charter will remain the key mechanism through which organisations and individuals are encouraged to commit to improving rates of digital participation and we want to realise its potential by working with signatories to harness their ideas and resources to spearhead a revitalised programme of action at both a national and a local level. Amongst other things, this will require us to identify a dedicated, standing resource to drive the programme forward.
Community Groups and third sector organisations have a vital role to play in improving digital participation. We will work with them to develop their potential as a channel that can provide tailored and trusted advice to the people they support and represent. We will also work with leading third sector organisations to identify particular information or other needs amongst their client groups and then encourage, and where appropriate incentivise Scotland's digital community to develop the applications that are capable of addressing these needs
We also recognise that the cost of going on line can be a barrier for some low income groups. We will therefore explore how we can work with partners and relevant organisations to assess the business case for a social tariff for Broadband. Local government is a key partner in action to promote digital participation and we will work with Councils across Scotland in developing future plans. This includes support for the work of Glasgow City Council as it develops and implements a Digital Strategy to tackle the digital divide in the city.
To support business and encourage new ways of working we will work with appropriate bodies to ensure that the skills and tools to support Scotland's digital economy are in place. We will identify and deliver sector specific programmes that will demonstrate the business case for digital participation. The programme of support activity that is currently underway in the Highlands and islands will be adapted and rolled out across the rest of Scotland by Summer 2013.
Key Actions – Digital Participation