Scotland’s Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan outlines a commitment to a future-proofed infrastructure that will deliver world-class digital connectivity across the whole of Scotland by 2020. This underpins an ambition for Scotland to become a world-class digital nation and requires that people living, working and visiting Scotland can communicate and connect instantly using any device, anywhere, anytime.
What will a world class digital Scotland be like?
Scotland in 2020 would be:
- People choosing digital first, having access to digital technology and being capable and confident in its use at home, at work and on the move. They no longer worry about access to the Internet, caps on usage, slow upload or download speeds, patchy mobile coverage or mobile signal dropout.
- Scotland’s businesses having the skills and the confidence to exploit digital technologies, an economic environment that encourages digital innovation and supports the creation, growth and digital transformation of businesses. Businesses take advantage of real time data to deliver innovation, greater productivity and provide better services.
- Scotland recognised as being seen as an attractive place for inward investment in digital technologies.
- All appropriate public services being delivered online, with partnerships being encouraged and valued as a source of innovation and service improvement. Healthcare, education, energy supply and provision, transport, and waste and environmental management have been transformed through the adoption of new technologies, information and ubiquitous access.
- The “internet of things” enabling local Government to manage congestion; maximize energy efficiency, enhance public security; allocate scarce resources and support education through remote learning. Data is being collected and turned into information and knowledge that is further transforming service delivery.
- A future-proofed digital infrastructure supporting any device, anywhere, anytime connectivity across Scotland. This infrastructure is less visible to people, because a majority connect to the internet wirelessly e.g. on mobile devices (tablets, smart phones, etc) or through wireless platforms (e.g. PCs and laptops through home or public space WiFi).
The benefits of digital for productivity, inclusion and economic growth need to be felt throughout the country. We need prosperous city, regional, rural and island economies to deliver sustainable growth in Scotland and this will require us to narrow the current digital divide and recognise the interdependency between urban and rural areas. It also demands that we look beyond gap-funded investment models to drive the delivery of digital infrastructure and explore ‘Mixed Model’ options in which Government invests alongside the private sector, either through a Financial Instrument or Joint Venture arrangement, to stimulate the market and jointly deliver infrastructure in a sustainable way.
Whilst the Scottish Government will continue to provide strong leadership for our world-class vision, we can only deliver the benefits that the Scottish people and Scottish businesses expect, if our vision, and the actions to deliver that vision, are shared and owned by all sectors of our economy and society.
Lessons from world class countries
Our ambition is to keep at pace with international benchmarks both now and in future. This means investing wisely and using specialist expertise, market intelligence and technology foresighting to ensure the infrastructure that we invest in is future-proof and considered world-class both now and in the future.
In developing our vision for Scotland’s digital future, it is important to look at those countries and regions that are considered world-class – to understand what world-class means for them and how they have achieved it. The Scottish Government therefore commissioned independent research to provide an assessment of: what world-class looks like elsewhere, the characteristics of those countries and regions that have or are delivering world-class digital infrastructure; and what lessons could be learned and applied to Scotland in order for it to be world-class.
Five case studies were chosen – Australia, Ireland, South Korea, Lithuania and Sweden – on the basis of their visions and achievements with respect to digital infrastructure and the digital society, and the lessons they can provide for what Scotland should consider or avoid going forward.
Read the research report - Digital Scotland 2020: Achieving World-Class digital infrastructure
Collaboration across the country
However, our intention with Scotland’s Digital Dialogue is to use these plans as a platform for engaging more widely with stakeholders and the citizens of Scotland, to seek input and views on the proposals and stimulate debate on the options. We all need to feel a sense of shared ownership for choosing and delivering the right digital infrastructure for Scotland and, in doing so, give Scotland’s people the opportunity to shape Scotland’s digital future.