A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in a digital world

This strategy sets out the measures which will ensure that Scotland will fulfil its potential in a constantly evolving digital world.


The Updated Digital Strategy for Scotland sets out a vision to ensure that Scotland is recognised throughout the world as a truly digital nation.

The coronavirus pandemic undoubtedly presents great global challenges, but also opportunity for change and growth. The pandemic, and our response to it, has reminded us all of the social and economic consequences that can occur as result of being digitally excluded, however it has also highlighted that Scotland has the skills needed to digitise services at a rapid pace.

The updated strategy sets out the rationale and evidence for key actions that will allow Scotland to fulfil its potential in a digital world. The following actions will support and accelerate Scotland’s journey towards being an inclusive, ethical and sustainable digital nation.

Image of the Digital Strategy Theme IconsPart 1 - People and Place

No One Left Behind

Ensuring Scotland is a fully digitally inclusive nation in which the benefits of technology are available to all.

We will;

  1. deliver broadband coverage for all and maximise gigabit investment in Scotland through our R100 programme and through collaboration with commercial providers and the UK Government;
  2. improve rural 4G mobile coverage and set the right conditions to encourage investment through continued investment in infrastructure and collaborative working with the UK Government;
  3. ensure that all newly publicly-funded infrastructure is future-proofed for data requirements and all our communities are resilient and sustainable;
  4. build on the Connecting Scotland programme to provide equipment and data packages and digital skills training to those in need;
  5. ensure everyone can access services and that moving services online does not exclude the least advantaged in our society.

An Ethical Digital Nation

Creating a society where people can trust public services and businesses to respect privacy and be open and honest in the way data is being used.

We will;

  1. set out a vision of an Ethical Digital Nation, building trust that the technologies we use are designed with integrity, transparency and use a human rights based approach;
  2. build public trust in the use of data and provide all people with the assurance that we are using their data effectively for public benefit, and efficiently and safely to deliver high quality public services;
  3. open up access to data and ensure that digital technology improves access to data on local needs and assets;
  4. use digital technology to increase community engagement and participation, ensuring that people have an active role in decision making in Scotland;
  5. increase collaboration with other governments and NGOs to ensure that Scotland has an active role on issues relating to digital, such as cyber security and the creation of smart economics;
  6. ensure that our approaches to establishing an ethical digital nation balance digital rights with the responsibility to be accountable for our actions;
  7. use Scotland’s data capabilities to address climate change targets by extending our Earth Observation programme and building on the work of our AI for Good Climate Change programme.

Digital Education and Skills

Ensuring digital capability plays a key role in education to assist us in establishing a strong, digitally skilled workforce.

We will;

  1. work to ensure that digital knowledge and skills plays a key role in education and align with our plans for a new National Digital Learning Strategy;
  2. ensure that we have a skilled workforce available to meet the needs of a growing digital economy and continue to support entry into digital roles through initiatives such as the Digital Start Fund;
  3. look to further support and increase upskilling and reskilling opportunities for people whose employment was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic;
  4. increase diversity in the digital skills pool by working with industry to increase pathways into the digital tech sector;
  5. establish the Scottish Digital Academy as the skills provider of choice for the Scottish public sector, accelerating the delivery of digital skills that we need both now and in the future;
  6. establish a new, pooled resource of digital and data experts that the public sector can call upon to help them transform digitally;
  7. create a Data Science Competencies Centre to accelerate the adoption of new tools and practises across government and the public sector.

Part 2 - A Strong Digital Economy

Helping All Businesses to Become Digital Businesses

Working to ensure that the digital acceleration experienced as a result of the pandemic is sustainable and contributes to increased productivity, improved resilience and economic recovery.

We will;

  1. enable SMEs in all sectors to adopt and optimise new digital technologies, improve their productivity, increase their resilience and grow their businesses;
  2. expand expert support for SMEs through additional investment and the creation of a capital fund to incentivise and support SMEs to invest in the necessary software, hardware and skills;
  3. publish the Digital Economy Business Survey in Spring 2021, helping inform policy design to support Scotland’s ambition to be a leading digital economy;
  4. work with industry to tackle skills shortages across the sector, increase the number of and diversity of suitable candidates and expand the number of pathways into the workplace;
  5. work with bodies in the tech industry to demonstrate and deliver the operational and environmental benefits of safe and secure home-working;
  6. make more of our data available openly, improving transparency, open government and creating economic opportunity;
  7. make public sector data easy to find, understand and reuse.

Supporting Our Digital Technology Sector

Growing our digital tech sector in order to create new jobs in industries with long term growth potential and a positive impact on climate change.

We will;

  1. back the Logan Review’s recommendations and work with public and private sector partners to progress its key recommendations around education, entrepreneurship and investment;
  2. work with bodies in the tech sector to attract national and international investment in testing, developing and commercialising new products, processes and services;
  3. work with the tech sector to create a programme of data-driven innovation;
  4. work closely with the datacentre market in order to establish Scotland as an attractive location for green data centres;
  5. capitalise on Scotland’s competitive advantage in the growing international market for GovTech and promote and develop this sector across the world;
  6. ensure equal opportunities for all in the tech sector and work to increase diversity in the workforce;launch Scotland’s AI Strategy in March 2021 to ensure that the benefits and productivity gains from AI are felt across the whole of Scotland;
  7. implement the Strategic Framework for a Cyber Resilient Scotland;
  8. work with the private sector to improve international data connections for Scotland.

Part 3 - Digital Government and Services

Public Services Working For Us All

Building public services that are accessible to all and simple to use.
We will;

  1. set out ambitious reform programmes for key areas of government in order to transform key public services;
  2. embed the Scottish Approach to Service Design across the public sector and design services around the needs of the user;
  3. ensure that all public services are designed through the lenses of inclusion, offering signposted alternative ways of accessing services for those who cannot or do not want to use digital routes;
  4. develop the CivTech operation as the centre of public service innovation of national and local government;
  5. introduce a digital identity service for service users, providing a safe and secure way to prove their identity, while reducing time and cost for the public sector.

Transforming Government

Transforming public services to realise the opportunities of digital ways of working.

We will;

  1. develop and sustain the cultures and working practices required to be successful in the digital age and to enhance wellbeing;
  2. build a suite of common platforms that will be adopted across the public sector;
  3. develop and accelerate the use of a common digital and data standards across the public sector;
  4. establish a public sector centre for excellence for digital technology and digital thinking across the public sector;
  5. create a digital service hub, developing a common catalogue of services and service components;
  6. adopt an open and inclusive approach to procurement which provides meaningful opportunities for small businesses and start-ups, ensuring that the public sector secures the best value from its long-term strategy relationships with key stakeholders;
  7. support a Digital Third Sector, enabling third sector partners and Digital Participation Charter signatories to develop their digital capabilities and introduce new business models;
  8. explore the potential for digital technology to better enable parliamentarians and elected council members to engage with constituents remotely, assist participation in local decision making and community councils, and engage with overseas governments remotely;
  9. develop and implement a Data Transformation Framework to encourage data improvement and the expansion of data reuse across the public sector;
  10.  invest in analytical platforms, to increase efficiency, improve the quality of data we collect, share skills and knowledge and enable greater innovation and collaboration.
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