Publication - Strategy/plan

Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world: a digital strategy for Scotland

Published: 22 Mar 2017
Digital Directorate

Scotland's refreshed digital strategy sets out our vision for Scotland as a vibrant, inclusive, open and outward looking digital nation.

Realising Scotland's full potential in a digital world: a digital strategy for Scotland
Platform for Future Success - Achievements Since 2011

Platform for Future Success - Achievements Since 2011

The Scottish Government published Scotland's Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland back in 2011. It looked at digital opportunities and challenges facing Scotland at that time and set out actions to improve our digital infrastructure, promote digital participation, develop a greater range of digital public services and stimulate the digital economy. Significant progress has been made in each of these areas, providing a platform upon which our updated strategy will build.


Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme achieved its initial target of delivering access to fibre broadband to 85% of premises in Scotland by March 2016 and is on track to make this 95% by the end of 2017. Over 700,000 homes and businesses across Scotland now have access to superfast broadband and we have created a fibre spine that will support future generations of fixed and mobile connectivity.

Community Broadband Scotland (CBS) has helped extend broadband access to over 1,400 premises across 17 community projects and is actively supporting over 100 communities.

In 2014, we relaxed planning legislation to making it easier for mobile operators to support better deployment of the telecoms infrastructure. In June 2016, we published the Mobile Action Plan - the only such Action Plan amongst UK and devolved Governments - setting out plans to tackle mobile not-spots, further reform the planning system, use publicly-owned assets for telecoms and take full advantage of the opportunities provided by the new 4G-based Emergency Services Network.


Between 2011-15, the percentage of adults using the internet for personal use increased from 73% to 82%. The gap in internet use between the most and least deprived areas of our country that stood at 29% back in 2007 had fallen to 16% by 2015, with Scotland now enjoying the highest level of basic digital skills amongst any of the four nations of the United Kingdom. [1]

In April 2014, the Scottish Government published A National Framework for Local Action and partnered with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations ( SCVO) to lead its implementation. The Scottish Government invested over £1 million and announced a Challenge Fund which has since supported 127 local projects across the country supporting the development of basic digital skills. This ongoing investment has supported over 15,000 people who need the most support to go online and benefit from our digital world. Additionally, Scotland's Digital Participation Charter has secured commitment from over 300 public, private and third sector organisations to build the digital skills of their workforce, customers and service users. SCVO has also leveraged an additional £800,000 funding for digital projects from the European Regional Development Fund, BT Scotland and the Big Lottery.

There has been a 20% increase in broadband access at home amongst social housing tenants (42%-62%) since 2014. The Scottish Government has worked with partners to develop a Digital Participation Toolkit [2] for social housing providers, supported the Wheatley Group to trial new forms of connectivity in Glasgow and seen Castlerock Edinvar implement broadband access in all its sheltered accommodation for just under £1.00 a week per household.

We have funded the extension of free public Wi-Fi to 96% of all libraries in Scotland and have recently introduced funding for 3-D printers and technical support. In partnership with CoderDojo and the Glasgow Science Centre, we extended coding clubs into five areas of deprivation supporting 4,900 young people and in 2016 and worked with Skills Development Scotland to extend extra-curricular coding activities as part of the Digital Xtra programme.

Public Services

Our digital strategy committed the Scottish public sector to simplifying public services, improving service delivery and sharing public sector data. Since that time, the Scottish Government has launched Revenue Scotland and seen almost 98% of its tax returns completed online. We have launched as the central point of access for information and replaced traditional paper-based services with online options for building standards and planning applications. The CivTech® pilot has demonstrated the potential for engaging small businesses in developing innovative solutions to public service challenges , whilst the Scottish Wide Area Network ( SWAN) has already generated savings of over £30 million.

Scottish local authorities have made huge strides in digitising local services including paying bills online, reporting repairs and accessing a range of common and personal information. They have collaborated on common approaches to Online School payments, seen 180,000 people take up an online myaccount and been at the forefront of the use of SWAN. The appointment of a Chief Digital Officer demonstrates the ongoing commitment of local authorities to cross-sector working.

NHSScotland's website now lists an impressive collection of digital improvements, [3] with recent examples including Patientrack, an electronic monitoring and early warning system that has significantly reduced cardiac arrests in Fife, digital support for young people with mental health problems, and a new clinical support system for Diabetes in NHS Lothian and NHS Tayside. The Digital Health and Care Institute has brought together academics, the NHS and businesses to promote and commercialise innovation in digital health and social care.

The skills shortage in the public sector has been tackled with the launch of the Digital Transformation Service ( DTS) in August 2015. This has already completed digital projects with 25 central government organisations. We have also run a Digital Champions Programme for more than 120 senior public and voluntary sector staff to build awareness of the potential of digital transformation within their organisations.


Our 2011 Strategy, followed up by a separate report in April 2013, [4] committed to Scotland being at the forefront of the digital economy and pledged that digital technologies would be an integral part of our transition to a low carbon economy. This was embodied in the launch of a "Business Excellence Partnership" which included digital businesses and our Enterprise and Skills agencies. The Partnership subsequently invested £7 million in initiatives promoting the digital maturity of Scotland's businesses. These included DigitalBoost, a national programme of workshops, one-to-one support and online advice, designed to show how digital approaches and capability can help businesses improve and grow, a Digital Vouchers scheme that has helped over 500 companies meet costs of investing in digital technology and #hellodigital, [5] a state-of-the-art centre in Inverness, showcasing digital technology to SMEs. The Partnership has also overseen a programme of support for Scotland's tourism industry [6] which builds on the recognition of digital as a key priority in the Tourism Scotland 2020 Strategy.

We have developed effective partnerships with industry to improve the digital maturity and skills of our people and businesses. Over the last 6 months, Google's Digital Garage in the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, including a number of local roadshows, has trained thousands of small businesses and individuals, while many more took advantage of the support offered through free online courses.

We have also made £8.5 million available through the Partnership to support a programme, managed by Skills Development Scotland, to tackle shortages in digital skills across Scotland. This has supported the launch of CodeClan, Scotland's accredited and industry-led digital skills academy, Digital World, [7] a marketing campaign designed to promote careers in the technology sector, and Digital Xtra which has so far invested £400,000, through two rounds of funding, to fund digital technology-related extra-curricular activities in Scotland's schools.


Email: Alan Rodden