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Glasgow Council unveils digital strategy

30/11/18

Mark Say Managing Editor

Glasgow City Council has agreed on a digital strategy for the city that includes commitments to smart city technology, tech for health and social care, open data and building skills.

Glasgow from Queen's Park

It announced the plan yesterday, highlighting two main ambitions and 74 actions aimed at modernising infrastructure and public services.

The two ambitions are to maximise the contribution that digital technology can make to local economic growth, and in transforming how public services are delivered.

Councillor Angus Millar, depute city convener for economic growth, said: “While Glasgow is already recognised as an innovative smart city with a strong and diverse digital tech sector, the Digital Glasgow Strategy and the partnership working across the city that it underpins will help us take the next steps in becoming a digital global leader - and it will guide the city in taking advantage of the opportunities digital technology offers to improve our public services and create inclusive economic growth that people across Glasgow can benefit from."

The smart services element of the strategy involve six initiatives:

  • Increasing the number of transactions that can be completed online and working to improve the experience.
  • Expanding the use of the Glasgow Operations Centre to coordinate city services, accompanied by scaling up smart city infrastructure such as intelligent street lighting, smart bins and sensors. Along with this will be the creation of a “living lab” to provide opportunities for SMEs in the field.
  • A 3D strategy for planning, including the development of 3D planning application submissions and an intelligent 3D City Model for use in public services. The latter will be published as open data.
  • Encouraging digital learning and teaching by providing over 50,000 iPads to children, expanding the availability of Wi-Fi to classrooms and upgrading digital connectivity. In addition, a Parent Portal will be developed to provide access to services and information, and digital leadership will be included in school improvement plans.
  • Working with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to provide access to digital health and social care services and improve integration between the two. This will come with migrating the city’s telecare service to digital technology and expanding the use of engagement tools.
  • Using digital to provide better tourism and heritage content for visitors and residents of the city.

Underpinning much of this will be work on the city’s data foundations, with plans to develop a data ethics framework, online services that enable citizens to see how their data is used and control consent, and to build communities of interest for data. This will be accompanied by increasing the number of open datasets and expanding the use of the City Data Platform.

Infrastructure plans include accelerating investment in 5G and fibre connectivity, addressing ‘not spots’ in the city and launching a Barrier Busting programme to engage with telecommunications providers. Earlier this year the city council agreed a £30 million contract with Commsworld to provide a wide area network for public sector buildings.

Skills partnership

The strategy also includes plans for an industry partnership to provide a coordinated approach for employers to develop digital skills, and a city-wide research programme that will include commissioning a review of the current digital skills gaps. Along with this will be a campaign to promote equality and diversity in the city’s digital tech sector.

While the strategy does not include any reference to the council’s seven-year transformation contract with consulting services firm CGI to support its transformation, it does align in part with the emphasis on more online transactions and better use of data in health and social care.

Glasgow claims the largest digital tech sector in Scotland, and in 2013 won a £24 million award to develop Future City Demonstrator programmes in areas such as smart infrastructure and smart energy.

It is also home to two innovation districts - one in the city centre and one in the West End - and the Centre for Civic Innovation, based at the Tontine.

Pictured: Glasgow from Queen’s Park by Chris Haikney, CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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