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
Chapter 2

Chapter 2

"Digital and Data are irresistible forces that drive innovation in our public services - they open up new choices and possibilities for us all."

Derek Mackay, Cabinet Secretary Finance and the Constitution

  • 86% of online public services users are satisfied with the overall quality.
  • 73% of users were satisfied with the usefulness of mygov content.

Digital Scotland:

  • Designs and delivers digital public services around the needs of their users
  • Shares and opens up non-personal data as a source of innovation and efficiency

Scotland will be seen as an international pioneer of citizen-led service design. The development and implementation of a Scottish Approach to User Research and Service Design will ensure that digital public services will be designed with, and for, the people who use them. Our Digital First Standards enshrine a commitment to co-production which is already seen in, for example, the creation of User Experience panels to help us shape the way in which we will provide Social Security benefits in Scotland following the transfer of powers from the UK Government.

"Digital will be key to the transformation of health & social care. NHS Chief Executives are committed to the major opportunities for the development and application of digital solutions to empower individuals, facilitate greater self-management and transform how our citizens engage and interact with a 21st-Century health service."

Jeff Ace, Chief Executive, NHS Dumfries & Galloway and Chair, NHS Chief Executive's Group

Digital Public Services must be secure and resilient, easy to find and easy to use. They must empower users and enable rapid feedback on their performance. Information and services will therefore be provided through rather than through a series of disparate websites and we will provide a secure approach to online identification and verification which will command the trust of the Scottish public. We will also make sure that no-one is left behind, by offering face-to-face and other forms of assistance wherever necessary, so that everybody can take advantage of the opportunities that digital brings.

Digital enables us to transform the delivery of health and care, giving real choice to people across Scotland. Benefits include the ability to manage your own care, have a video consultation or be supported in your own home by a care worker who can use mobile technology to access the data and records they need. This provides the opportunity to use remote monitoring to track your health condition and anticipate problems at the earliest possible stage.

We will create an efficient, user-centred and digitally-enabled justice system and open up a wealth of new learning and teaching opportunities within our education system. We will also develop intelligent transport systems which will increase capacity and support the further development of smart integrated ticketing across buses, trains, trams and ferries throughout the country.

The Scottish Government will create the conditions which encourage continuous innovation and improvement in our public services. The Chief Digital Officers, or equivalents, in Scottish Government, local government, NHSScotland and the third sector will be encouraged to develop and implement joint action plans and we will share our ideas and experiences internationally with other progressive digital governments. This will include work to explore the potential of new and emerging technologies such as blockchain.

Our CivTech programme has already demonstrated how it is possible to engage digital entrepreneurs and small businesses in developing solutions to sometimes intractable problems and we will continue to find ways of encouraging such innovation in the future. At the same time we will identify and remove outdated legislative or "custom and practice" impediments to delivering the digital services that people want.

Data holds the key to unlocking innovation in public services. Better data sharing can generate new insights, stimulate new ideas and deliver potential savings to the public sector of more than £1billion. [8] Such benefits will, however, only be realised if people in Scotland trust us to hold their data securely and use it in appropriate ways.

"Scotland has the potential to become the data capital of Europe."

Charlie Jeffrey, Senior Vice Principal, University of Edinburgh

This understanding lies at the heart of Scotland's Open Data Strategy published in February 2015, which sets out our ambition for making data open and available for others to use and reuse. We are already seeing benefits in areas of public service as diverse as promoting effective energy efficiency in Scotland's housing stock, increasing the number of people within our further and higher education system and predicting future demand for social care. Collective data agreements are helping to widen access and reduce the costs of key data sources across the Scottish public sector.

Scotland already has an impressive set of high quality public sector data and the largest concentration of internationally significant and world-leading informatics research in the UK. We have invested significantly in organisations such as Datalab, the Administrative Data Research Centre, the Farr Institute and Urban Big Data Centre and created a platform which will help Scotland become recognised as an attractive place to develop data-enabled enterprises, conduct research, innovate and contribute to the development of data skills.

"Data changes everything, opening up new choices and possibilities for our public services, our businesses, our wellbeing."

Gillian Docherty, Chief Executive, Data Lab


Actions to re-design Scotland's digital public services:

  • Use the opportunity offered by new powers to redesign and simplify the process of applying for social security benefits
  • Create a national portal for health and care services, giving people better access to their health care information and records
  • Publish a new Digital Health and Social Care Strategy in 2017
  • Make it easier to access historical and other records online
  • Deliver a predominantly online 2021 Census, whilst maintaining public trust in the process
  • Enable the digital recording of evidence, reports, decisions and judgements throughout our justice system and a digital platform to store all information relevant to a case or individual in one secure location
  • Trial electronic voting solutions to increase democratic participation
  • Work with stakeholders, privacy interests and members of the public to develop a robust, secure and trustworthy mechanism by which an individual member of the public can demonstrate their identity online
  • Provide community health workers with remote access to up to date information
  • Work with the transport industry to deliver a National Pay As You Go ePurse for transport and enable travel across Scotland on a single saltirecard smart card
  • Drive the future transformation of Scotland's planning system to provide a simpler and more consistent online experience across Scotland
  • Introduce a series of new digital services within the conveyancing process, including digital access to discharges, standard securities and dispositions
  • Expand our CivTech programme to enable more entrepreneurs to build businesses that improve the delivery of public services


Actions to enable change and innovation through data:

  • Engage with the public to build an understanding of how their data is being used for the public benefit, and of the arrangements in place to guarantee the security of their data
  • Drive the adoption of open data standards across the public sector to improve efficiency and inter-operability
  • Develop a platform that allows citizens and researchers to see what datasets are held about people and organisations in Scotland, and what details those datasets contain
  • Make non-personal data about people and businesses in Scotland easier to access and use by publishing, in open format, data behind all official statistics on
  • Improve arrangements to support secure, legal and ethical data sharing where this is for public benefit
  • Deliver a series of pathfinder data analytics and Earth Observation projects
  • Provide access to Scotland's education sector to the Point Cloud representing the three bridges across the River Forth
  • Deliver a skills programme with Data Lab to increase the pipeline of new data scientists, educate leaders in delivering value from data innovation, and develop the data analytics skills of the existing workforce
  • Ensure that the UK-wide Digital Economy Bill works for Scotland's data ambitions
  • Invest in new collective data agreements such as a national capture programme for LiDAR


Email: Alan Rodden