8 Conclusion of this FBC
The Connecting Scotland programme has an enviable record of accomplishment of success in providing digital devices and connectivity to those in need. The initiative has also contributed to bridging the digital divide and helping citizens in Scotland be more digitally included. However, there is more work to be done. The next iteration of Connecting Scotland will take place at a time when access to funding is more challenging. The programme has adjusted its activities accordingly by moving some emphasis to lower cost client interventions and place-based connectivity. By retaining and developing the Connecting Scotland initiative, as part of the Scottish Government, when economic stability returns, Scotland once again will be at the forefront of digital inclusion.
8.1 Salient issues for consideration
Connecting Scotland has tangible, intangible and human assets it can harness to provide value as part of SG
8.1.1 Tangible Assets
- Connecting Scotland has a record of accomplishment of successfully providing devices and connectivity to those in need with approximately sixty thousand device and connectivity assets currently in the field.
- Many of the surplus or “end of need” assets can be cost effectively repurposed and rehomed to provide rapid deployment digital support for those in most need.
- Connecting Scotland currently has a free suite of connectivity management tools provided by Vodafone that can be used to assist with this activity.
8.1.2 Intangible Assets
- Connecting Scotland has built a strong reputation and brand identity across its client/user base and stakeholder organisations in Scotland. This is confirmed by evidence emerging from the Phase 3 user research and 2022 focus group research within its stakeholder groups. There is also positive brand awareness of Connecting Scotland across organisations engaged in digital inclusion activities across the wider United Kingdom. Connecting Scotland was highly regarded with organisations attending the Digital Leaders event this year. A delegate from a London based digital Inclusion organisation described CS as an exemplar for organisations working in this field. As a result, Connecting Scotland has established valuable relationships with many charitable and third sector organisations that can be further developed in the future.
- The primary means of digital connectivity for Connecting Scotland has been via 4G mobile data communications provided by Vodafone. Connecting Scotland has strengthened its relationship with Vodafone at board level through their UK Director of Business, who is responsible for their activity in digital inclusion. Vodafone have committed to placing some of their resources behind Connecting Scotland to improve the way individuals in digital poverty in Scotland can be more efficiently supported.
- In addition to this strong relationship with Vodafone, Connecting Scotland has gained access to the wider mobile connectivity sector through its relationship at CEO level with Mobile UK, the trade body for the four mobile data communications network operators in the UK.
- In terms of future devices, Connecting Scotland has been working closely with its primary hardware supplier XMA plus Microsoft and Google to ensure that all devices used in the future meet the needs of the user, including accessibility for those users with physical, visual or hearing impairments.
8.1.3 Human Assets
- Connecting Scotland, as part of the digital citizen unit of SG, has been augmented by the addition of Ethical Digital Nation team. This expands its capability to provide expertise in terms of the ethics and best practice for digital inclusion.
- As part of the Scottish Government, Connecting Scotland has close links across a range of relevant organisations in the public, private and third sectors. There is a close partnership with SCVO, which means the programme benefits from their 10 years of experience in delivering and leading Digital Inclusion in Scotland and their reputation across the UK and beyond.
- Connecting Scotland is in an ideal position to take advantage of the Environmental, Social and Governance initiatives which are becoming an obligation for private sector and corporate enterprises. By harnessing its experience and wider resources, Connecting Scotland is well placed to assist charities and community organisations access this source of funding. By helping them become “social investor ready” these organisations and the people they support can benefit from this important source of funding.
- Connecting Scotland has also added expertise in terms of telecommunications technology experience and data analysis; this capability will help Connecting Scotland deliver better “one to one” and “one-to-many” digital connectivity to users in the future.
- The Connecting Scotland Programme has access to the wider resources of the Scottish Government and will contribute and be governed accordingly.
Based on the arguments set out in the Strategic, Socio-economic, Commercial, Financial and Management cases, this FBC recommends the following delivery option for consideration of the Programme Board and the Ministerial approval:
- Option 2 - Systems and capacity building activities plus partnership programmes
Option 2 represents best value for money, as full delivery of systems and capacity building activities will be a key investment in the digital inclusion landscape that activates, connects and extends existing provision. Further, the focus on investing in partner programmes and proofs of concepts help set the foundation for future-focussed programmes.
There is a problem
Thanks for your feedback