Scotland's Digital Future: A Strategy for Scotland

Strategy setting out how we will ensure Scotland takes full advantage of digital technology.

2 Delivery of Public Services

New ways of delivering and improving public services will develop and expand in coming years. Expectations of public services are being transformed as access to and use of the internet is growing across all age and social spectrums, the number of UK households using mobile phones exceeds those with land lines, and growing smart phone ownership has produced a whole new demographic of customers whose preferences are to access and receive information and services "on the move". Technology not only allows greater scope for people to do things themselves, but also to contribute opinions, access information and interact with others.

Technological change can make contributions to both improving outcomes and reducing costs. There is significant potential to completely transform public services, by making entirely new services and products possible. For example, it is already clear that technology will play a key role in delivering health and social services in many countries throughout the world in the 21st century. It will deliver better care for all, integrate services more cost-effectively and efficiently, and gradually become part of everyday life.

As importantly, the online delivery of public services will also provide services which are easier, quicker and more convenient for people to use, and at a lower cost than other methods allow 1 .

A range of programmes are already underway to achieve this. In all of them, we are committed to focussing on public need and working in collaboration with local authorities, health boards and other public sector partners, including the UK Government, to deliver services which are efficient, effective and responsive.

We are also committed to data protection compliance as enshrined in the recent publication of our Identity Management and Privacy Principles.

The public sector in Scotland is committed to respond to the changing expectations of our customers by realising the opportunities that technology provides and delivering an increasing proportion of services online. Our plans must be flexible enough, therefore, to seize opportunities for service delivery which are not apparent now, but which will arise in the near future.

Christie Commission

In November 2010 we established the Commission on the Future Delivery of Public Services, chaired by Campbell Christie CBE.

As the remit of the Commission makes clear, we are ambitious for Scotland's public services and the Commission has been asked to identify the opportunities and obstacles that will help or hinder progress towards improving the delivery of public services in the future.

The sections below set out how we use new technology to simplify and co-ordinate public sector work, to deliver services directly, and to inform and engage with the public.

Expectations of public services are being transformed in the internet age where access to and use of the internet is growing across all age and social groups

Simplifying public services

There is great potential for us to work with other public sector organisations to deliver improved public services through digital technology.

A good example of this is the Scottish Government-backed Customer First programme. The programme aims to deliver better quality public services, faster service response times, lower costs and wider coverage for services. The shared national investment in ICT for Customer First has released benefits of more than £30 million per annum by allowing customers to make secure online transactions and to access services from anywhere, at any time.

It has been developed in partnership with local government and the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives ( SOLACE), and is being taken forward by the Improvement Service, the body which improves advice, consultancy and programme support to local authorities in Scotland. By using the Customer First Platform, valuable time and money has been and will be saved in key areas. The public sector can collaborate to deliver better services and products, reduce costs and thus improve the quality of life of many people in Scotland.

Highlights of the Customer First programme include:

  • By using modern communication channels and encouraging online service delivery, Customer First, in conjunction with lead councils and public sector partners allows customers to make secure online transactions and access services from anywhere, at anytime. This transforms the user experience and brings significant benefits for councils and partner organisations. Scottish local government and its partners could remove further cost and demand - moving just 20% of the top 20 transactions online could save over £60 million
  • The National Entitlement Card ( NEC), a smartcard for people to access services conveniently, which replaces the numerous other card schemes in Scotland. There are 1.6 million NEC customers using the card as a vital part of the national bus travel concession scheme for older and disabled people. And 360,000 Young Scot NEC Card holders for a bus and rail concession scheme for young people, and the Young Scot scheme. The card provides proof of age and is now accepted by the Scottish Committee of Clearing Banks as proof of identity for opening a basic bank account
  • The One Scotland Gazetteer, a complete database of 3.2 million property records for all Scottish councils and other public sector departments. This is used by the national ePlanning service which now receives 900 online planning applications each month
  • A secure authentication service that allows councils to keep accurate up-to-date records of their customers, supports the issue of entitlement cards and helps local authorities and partners to offer a wider and better range of online services. For example, this model is being piloted to allow diabetes patients to view their health information and share progress with professional support staff within NHS Tayside. It is hoped there will be 5000 online users by March 2012 with the opportunity to extend this self-management model to patients with other chronic conditions
  • Development of mobile application for reporting graffiti; litter and fly-tipping; dog-fouling; and road and lighting faults to provide flexibility and convenience to the growing band of smartphone users. In other jurisdictions, including America, the deployment of mobile apps has led to reduced cost and led to a difficult-to-reach demographic becoming engaged

The myjobscotland site ( ) is a national shared recruitment portal for Scotland's 32 local authorities and other public sector bodies, such as fire and rescue, and police services.

Funded by the Scottish Government, it is designed to carry over 30,000 vacancies, and process around 250,000 applications every year. It is a UK and international first for public sector recruitment websites in terms of scope and scale. The service advertises job vacancies online through a single website, allowing public sector employers to recruit from a wider pool of candidates, support more effective recruitment practices, and reduce advertising expense.

For candidates, the portal allows them to view vacancies in any location and submit applications online. Candidates can also register to receive e-mailed job alerts. By moving to a new advertising model and simplifying recruitment processes, councils will make collective savings of between £3 million and £4 million each year.

By simplifying recruitment processes, councils will make collective savings of between £3 million and £4 million each year

E-procurement is another area where digital technology makes public sector co-ordination easier. Procurement Scotland has run three online auctions for IT hardware for the wider public sector and, in doing so, has achieved savings of around £24.4 million.

Improved service delivery


We are supporting the development of telecare in Scotland. These services help people to live with greater independence and safety in their homes through a range of devices, sensors and services.

Many devices trigger a response from a call centre, such as falls monitors, medication monitors and motion sensors. Responses may range from a phone call to the person, to alerting local carers or the emergency services, if required.

We have invested £16 million in the Telecare Development Programme ( TDP) since its launch in August 2006. All 32 health and social care partnerships across Scotland are now in receipt of funding from the programme to develop local telecare services.

This funding should enable 13,000 people to receive telecare services at home, and 21,000 hospital admissions days being avoided.

A Telecare Action Plan covering the period to March 2012 encourages local partnerships to use technology to improve falls prevention, and the management of long term conditions such as COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), chronic heart failure and dementia.

As a result of all this, supporting frail people at home effectively has become an increasingly viable alternative to hospital or care home admissions.

This is backed up by independent evaluation of the Telecare Development Programme, showing that between 2006 and March 2009 in Scotland:

  • 16,482 people had received a telecare service as a result of TDP support
  • £7.4 million of TDP expenditure had resulted in measured (gross) efficiencies worth £23.2 million
  • Survey data showed that over 60% of telecare service users felt their quality of life had improved as a consequence, while over 90% felt safer and 70% felt more independent. Three-quarters of carers felt less stressed as a result of telecare provided to the person they cared for

We are working closely with the Scottish Centre for Telehealth to integrate approaches to telecare and telehealth - this integration is described by the term "telehealthcare".

A further £4 million of Scottish Government funding (2010/11) aims to expand telehealthcare through wider use of technology across health and care services in all local partnerships. This will help to further build on technology-enabled services which support:

  • a shift in the balance of care from institutional to community settings
  • improved outcomes for service users and carers
  • the delivery of key health and care performance targets

It is already clear that telehealthcare will play a key role in delivering health and social services in many countries throughout the world in the 21st century. It will deliver better care for all, integrate services more cost-effectively and efficiently, and gradually become part of everyday life.

We and our stakeholders - in particular, the Scottish Centre for Telehealth (part of NHS24) - will collaborate to deliver better services and products, thus improving the quality of life for many people in Scotland.

Scotland is very well placed to market its teleheathcare expertise to other countries. With our internationally renowned and varied research capabilities, there are also opportunities for Scotland's technology businesses to respond to the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population, by developing advanced technologies and innovative service delivery to promote independent living.

We are committed to driving this important agenda forward by stimulating economic activity in relation to telehealthcare. This can be done, for example, by stimulating smart procurement of innovative technologies.

Telehealthcare will play a key role in delivering health and social services in the 21st century

Supporting frail people at home effectively has become an increasingly viable alternative to hospital or care home admissions

Action 2.1 - We will establish governance and accountability structures for telehealthcare development by July 2011 which reflect the sector's importance to public service reform and economic development, and which ensure the Scottish Government continues to take a strong leadership role in the sector

Rural payments

The Rural Payments and Inspections Directorate ( RPID) is one of the few parts of the Scottish Government which handles large-scale transactions with customers on a day-to-day basis. The Directorate provides a range of support to over 20,000 farmers, crofters and land managers across Scotland, mostly in the form of agricultural subsidy payments.

RPID has developed a system for agricultural subsidy claimants or their agents to electronically submit claims for payments online. 40% of Single Application Forms ( SAF) (the main claims for subsidy) are now submitted electronically via Rural Payment Online ( RPO). This not only provides cost savings, but is much more convenient for many claimants and agents.

RPID has seen a steady increase in the number of online SAF submissions, from 1,200 in 2005, to 8,600 in 2010. This increase has mainly been achieved by promoting the benefits of online submission for claimants themselves, rather than concentrating on improved efficiency.

Nearly all claimants of agricultural subsidy payments work in rural areas. However, the ability to expand online submission is hindered by the lack of fast broadband access in many of these areas.

This illustrates two issues which regularly arise in relation to the use of digital technology. First, the fact that issues of broadband infrastructure, public service delivery, and public skills and training are interconnected. Secondly, many people who could benefit most from digital technology are least able to access and use it.

Similarly, applications for Rural Development Contract-Rural Priorities annual recurrent options require to be submitted online. However, the speed of broadband in rural areas may be a disadvantage to some potential applicants. Action to address rural connectivity is described in more detail in Chapter 5.

Public information

We have provided funding to the Improvement Service and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA) to develop an online portal to help people gain access to, and interact with, public information.

Launched in December 2010, tellmescotland ( ), advertises public information notices such as planning applications, road closures and licensing applications. This allows people to engage with public services seamlessly as they might do with, for example, online banking services.

Councils will make savings by streamlining their current business processes in a number of ways, for example, by using standard advertising templates, reducing printed advertising, having more efficient search and retrieval of public information notices, and reducing the number of citizen enquiries by having all information in one location.

We are currently exploring how to bring together information about public services most effectively. Our DirectScot portal aims to improve access to public services and information by providing a single convenient access point. The project is currently in a prototype phase, with a beta-site launch planned for 2011.

What is DirectScot?

DirectScot will be similar to Directgov, the UK Government's services and information website.

The website will contain strongly branded information on Scotland's public services and will be used by public sector departments and other organisations to post their content or share marketing campaigns. People will also be able to carry out online transactions such as those developed through the Customer First Programme. Syndicated content from Directgov with UK-wide relevance will also be featured.

Improved single website access will be particularly beneficial for people to source information on justice and the legal system. Scotland does not currently have a single site where people can access comprehensive information on rights.

In its January 2011 report, the Civil Justice Advisory Group recognised this and recommended that "A web-based system should be created, bringing together information on rights, responsibilities, sources of self-help and advice and options for dispute resolution, which would guide people through the dispute resolution process." 2

A single public service website would be an obvious location to host such a system - helping to deliver a key aim of the Making Justice Work programme of creating "legally empowered citizens".

Action 2.2 We will take forward options for developing an online portal for Scottish public information and services, and launch prototype (beta) site for testing in first half of 2011

Any website must be clear and easy to navigate to provide the information and assistance that people need. It must also be completely inclusive, so that people with disabilities (eg. visual impairments) are not disadvantaged.

We need, therefore, to be flexible in determining what type of communication approach is best suited to the needs of the people we are trying to reach, as simply providing information on a website will often not be sufficient.

Social networking

The popularity of social networking sites shows how methods of communication which were new five or six years ago have quickly become part of mainstream culture.

We have already recognised this, and Civic, the Scottish-based digital agency, has been commissioned to revamp our website . This will make the site more interactive, allowing us to get more public feedback and integrate other social media platforms. We will also continue to adapt the site to incorporate new social media trends as they develop.

An example of the use of social networking is "Scotland Exchange", a new social network which will promote engagement with Scotland's Diaspora. The exchange is still in development, but demonstrates how new communication tools provide an opportunity to engage more deeply with audiences who would previously have been difficult to reach.

Engage for Education

Engage for Education ( ), launched in 2010, is an online project for Scotland's education community to engage directly with the Scottish Government about the issues important to them. The site allows people across Scotland to speak out and share their thoughts and ideas on the issues that matter to them: by reading blogs from Ministers and guests, posting comments and getting involved in workshops on important education issues; and through social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter. The result is also an opportunity to influence decision making, where the Scottish Government is turning feedback, concerns, suggestions and ideas into action. Engage for Education was a finalist in two categories for the e-Government National Awards 2010.

Cultural content

Two cross-cutting initiatives in the cultural sector illustrate how digital access can reach new audiences and combine information sources to add value to content:

  • gives access to the main official records for family history, has a million customers worldwide and helps to drive ancestral tourism visits to Scotland. It is operated by the General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland ( NAS) and the Office of the Lord Lyon
  • allows users to combine digital content drawn from two different organisations' data. It is operated by NAS and the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historical Monuments. The National Library of Scotland ( NLS) has just joined the consortium and will shortly be contributing content

Gaelic goes global

In October 2010, the National Library of Scotland ( NLS) added over 400,000 pages of material from prominent Gaelic book collections to . The Early Gaelic Book Collections include text and illustrations in Gaelic and other Celtic languages about the Gaels, their languages, literature, culture and history. All 400,000 pages are available online enabling people all over the world to discover the Scottish and Gaelic culture in full colour, from illustrated nursery rhymes to critical essays on the Ossian controversy. This was made possible through a large-scale digitisation project which increased by tenfold the amount of online content available from NLS.

In December 2010, the Tobar an Dualchais/Kist o Riches website ( ) was launched. This was a major collaboration between the National Trust for Scotland, the School of Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh, and Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the Gaelic college on Skye. It makes available thousands of hours of recordings of stories, songs, music, poetry and factual information which have been recorded from more than 10,000 Scots over seven decades.

Digitised Scotland is an extensive picture library containing digitised works from Scotland's national collections, many of which are unique. Selected images from the site are available for licensed reuse. The library was developed by The National Archives of Scotland, in partnership with The National Library of Scotland, National Museums Scotland, The National Trust for Scotland and The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland.

(May use visual here )

A challenge facing the public sector in Scotland is how to preserve the immense and growing investment in digital assets over the long term. Much data is transactional and short-lived, but much public business is now carried out in digital form only.

Scotland needs an overall strategy for ensuring that the digital content, whether from official records, or from publications, remains accessible. NAS has created a digital data archive using recognised international standards and protocols. This will shortly incorporate a fully digital public record, the Register of Sasines (property transactions). NLS is working on a similar trusted digital repository for library publications.

A challenge facing the public sector in Scotland is how to preserve the immense and growing investment in digital assets over the long term

Action 2.3 The National Archives of Scotland will work with the General Register Office for Scotland and Registers of Scotland, in co-operation with the National Library of Scotland, to develop long term preservation solutions for public digital assets. A key aim is to develop a national digital asset strategy, which will formalise work in these areas and establish best practice approaches by February 2012

Making government data more accessible

We also recognise the potential value in making public sector data more accessible and transparent. We have already taken significant steps to achieve this (eg, by publishing all government expenditure of more than £25,000 3 ) but more can still be done.

Freeing up public information can serve several purposes, many of which may not be apparent until the information is released. It can improve democratic accountability by providing better information on how public resources are allocated or on service delivery performance. It can better inform people about the availability of their public services and, in so doing, improve the usefulness of those services. There may also be new commercial uses for information held across the public sector. It is often difficult for people working in government to imagine what those uses might be, so freeing up public data can prompt individuals and companies to develop their own innovative uses.

Action 2.4 We will develop proposals with partners for releasing more government information and data for use by the public. Initial proposals to be developed and implementation to begin by end of July 2011. We invite suggestions for areas where the greater availability of public data could lead to new services or innovative applications

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