Digital Participation: A National Framework for Local Action

A national framework that underpins local action to help individuals and businesses improve levels of digital participation.

10. Let's get on through the digital public services we use


The past few years have seen a fundamental shift in the way in which we find out about and purchase goods and services. Whether it be booking hotels or travel tickets, managing our finances or downloading books or music, the internet has fundamentally changed the way we do business and access services. Increasingly, this level of transformational change is being seen in the way in which we use public services as well.

The anticipated benefits for users and providers of public services of moving towards digital channels will only be truly achieved if there is interest and demand from the people who need to use them. If such demand can be stimulated, this will inevitably generate an increased demand for training, access and practical one-to-one support and it therefore beholds all of us who are committed to increasing rates of digital participation to work together to both anticipate and meet this demand. An effective partnership that reaches beyond government into both the wider public sector , private and third sectors and local communities is essential in order to ensure that people in Scotland do not find themselves temporarily, or permanently, disadvantaged by their lack of access to, or confidence with, digital technology.


Scotland's Digital Public Services strategy, published in 2011, sets out a comprehensive framework for the development of digital services across the Scottish public sector that are quick, convenient and responsive for people to use. At the same time, UK Government is pushing ahead with a "Digital by Default" strategy for public services and creating a demand for training, assistance and support as benefit payments are increasingly managed through digital channels.

Scotland's public service reform agenda rests on four evidence based pillars, which will inform development of digital services and digital participation more widely:

  • Prevention: We need to reduce future demand by preventing problems arising or dealing with them early on. We should promote bias to prevention, helping people understand why this is the right thing to do, the choices it implies as well as the benefits it can bring.
  • People: We need to unlock the full creativity and potential of people at all levels of public service, empowering them to work together in innovative ways. We need to help create ways for people and communities to co-produce services around their needs - supporting them to build and use their own assets, including their skills and networks
  • Partnership: Public, third sector and private organisations must work more effectively in partnership with communities and with each other to design and deliver excellent public services which meet the needs of local people.
  • Performance: We need to demonstrate a sharp focus on the continuous improvement of national outcomes, applying reliable improvement methods to ensure that services are consistently well designed based on the best evidence and are delivered by the right people to the right people at the right time.

The Scottish Government believes that the development and roll out of digital public services offers a huge opportunity to promote digital skills and increase levels of digital participation across the country. This however depends critically upon those services being developed with the active involvement of those who use them and the transition to online service delivery being managed in a considered and professional way with new users being offered training, advice and support in places they want they go and through people they trust.

Our network of partners will work in tandem with the teams developing digital public services to ensure that they are designed and introduced in ways that encourages early and enthusiastic adoption. This requires an approach to service development that requires that, as a minimum:

  • the customer journey is mapped and understood
  • trusted intermediaries are consulted in service development and involved in service delivery where this is appropriate
  • services are tested rigorously and amended on the basis of user feedback and research
  • the roll out of new services includes a professional communications plan which highlights the benefits of digital service delivery and ensures that the channel is widely publicised and understood
  • staff and partners are engaged fully in the development and roll out process

As part of this approach, we will encourage new and innovative partnerships between the public, private and third sectors, supported by a commitment to opening public sector data to Scotland's developer community in order that it might stimulate new approaches to service delivery in our country.

Given the demographic profile of the digitally excluded, the health and social care sector is regarded as a priority for the development and implementation of services that can help encourage digital participation. In part, this will be delivered through the wider introduction of digital health services as part of Scotland's ehealth strategy, particularly in remote and rural communities where new technologies offer new opportunities to care for people in difficult to reach communities .

Just as importantly however, digital technology offers the potential to fundamentally change the balance of care away from hospital to home or community settings and to facilitate the greater engagement of patients, carers and their representative groups in the design and delivery of services. The Scottish Government will therefore continue to identify and sponsor exemplar projects, including Project Ginsberg that enables people to monitor and manage their mental wellbeing and the ALISS programme which will offer online access on community support and services that are available across the country.

Case Study: ALISS

ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland) is an open source digital platform designed by people with Long Term Conditions, which functions to facilitate the collation and presentation of information about local sources of health and wellbeing support. It contains links to information about community assets based on the sorts of things that people with Long Term Condition have said keeps them well - e.g. walks, cafes, activities, services) and offers an API and tools for the presentation of these assets via any channel and in one view.

Living it Up is a Programme working with five partnerships across Scotland, that has developed a web site initially for the over 50s that is ultimately aimed at empowering people to improve their health and well-being. In November 2013, the ALISS and Living it Up Programmes interfaced their technology to allow ALISS content to be presented to users of the Living It Up website - allowing them to receive information about local sources of support from ALISS alongside other useful information, in one view. In being able to access very local information about a variety of available supports from the interface of their choice, people with long term conditions are empowered make choices about and begin to manage their own health and wellbeing.


In order to ensure world class levels of digital participation we will:

  • ensure that digital public services are designed using standards that focus on user needs and tackle digital exclusion
  • open data and encourage Scotland's Digital/ ICT sector to use it in new and innovative ways to deliver digital services to the people of Scotland
  • support the roll out of new ehealth services to improve care and drive demand in remote and rural areas
  • support community groups to develop digital information and services


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