We live in a digital world. It is changing the way we work, do business, entertain, deliver services, shop and keep in touch with our family and friends, as well as the work of government. It’s a source of incredible opportunity – to open new markets, scale rapidly, tackle climate change and make links across the globe. It also brings huge new challenges - around privacy, regulation, security and social and digital inclusion.
Back in 2017, we set out a vision to ensure that Scotland is recognised throughout the world as a vibrant, inclusive, greener, open and outward-looking digital nation. This vision is now even more compelling. However, the context in which it needs to be delivered has changed dramatically.
The end of the Brexit transition period, and the prospect of no trade deal in particular, will compound the challenges Scotland faces as it tackles a global pandemic. Scotland has enjoyed many benefits of EU membership. Close collaboration with our EU partners and access to the digital single market has promoted innovation, growth and the exchange of ideas across borders. It is vitally important our digital technologies sector and wider economy has continued access to the world’s largest and most integrated single market, so that Scotland remains an attractive destination for talent and investment.
The pandemic, and our response to it, has shown that the public sector needs to be able to act at speed to develop and deliver new services. It has shown us the importance of working in partnership, with businesses, the voluntary sector and ourselves to get the right support, to the right people, in the right ways. It has seen more and more of our businesses move online and rethink their operating models. It has highlighted the importance of the wellbeing of households and individuals to combat the isolation that can occur as a result of physical distancing, and the worry about the workplace of the future. It has given more and more of us the confidence to use and benefit from digital technology and made it more obvious that exclusion from the digital world can limit our life chances.
As we adjust to the impact of coronavirus and tackle the economic, health and social harm it has brought, we should not seek to simply return to previous notions of ‘business as usual’. Currently we may not fully understand the extent of the economic and social shock of the pandemic, but we do know that it has redefined our perceptions of normal. We know that we must rethink the way the economy works and support a society that reflects the need to balance and sustain economic, social and environmental wellbeing. We know this work has the potential to contribute strongly to the National Performance Framework, and delivery across all eleven outcomes.
This document brings together all the digital recovery work taking place across Government; digital was a consistent thread running through the Programme for Government and is key to Scotland’s recovery.
We can and must understand and respond to the incredible opportunity it presents us with, to build a Digital Scotland in which:
- geography, background or ability is not a barrier to getting online and benefiting from digital technology, and we capitalise on Digital’s potential to sustain and invigorate rural and island communities;
- we reinvent our public services to make them more personal, accountable, adaptable, efficient, sustainable and worthy of public trust;
- our government, NHS and councils are transformed into true digital organisations with digital skills, cultures and operating models;
- Scottish businesses embrace the economic opportunities of digital technology, marketing and ways of working;
- our third sector partners are supported to develop their digital capabilities and introduce new digital business models;
- our children are prepared for the workplace of the future, and training and skills development is available for the existing workforce;
- wellbeing is both safeguarded and enhanced through the greater use of digital technology;
- our Tech sector is an innovative one, successful internationally and involving enthusiastic partners in a network of digital and data talent;
- green thinking is incorporated into all our digital solutions, so we can contribute to meet our statutory commitments to be a net zero society by 2045; and
- we are open, ethical and working with others to meet new moral, environmental, regulatory and security concerns.
Our people, places, economy and planet require it.