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Scottish Government consults on new digital strategy


Mark Say Managing Editor


The Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate has launched a consultation on updating the country’s digital strategy.

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It includes a number of measures to strengthen digital public services, including a digital identify service, common data standards and a joint service innovation centre.

Titled Renewing Scotland’s Full Potential in a Digital World, it has been developed with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) and is open for consultation until December. The document says it should not be regarded as definite and there is scope for different approaches to be taken into account.

Its section on public services emphasises accessibility and usability and outlines a number of measures, including the use of the Digital Scotland Service Standard and Scottish Approach to Service Design, the use of common cloud based technologies and making code available wherever practical to stimulate further innovation.

This comes with a reiteration of the importance of cyber security, and to provide real time information flows to quickly identify trends and support innovation.

The use of a number of common platforms – either in development or in use – is highlighted, including a digital identity service, systems for payments, online forms and data analysis, and customer relationship management.

Standards and services

Other elements include the adoption of common digital and data standards, the creation of a digital service hub with a common catalogue of services and components, and a joint service innovation centre based on the CivTech operation for national and local government.

A separate section on transforming government says that central, local and NHS bodies need to be built on digital business models to take advantage of the technology. It points towards further automation of back office services, more combined procurement, the publishing of data to integrate services and building up the relevant skills.

More precise plans include the creation of a Scottish Digital Academy as the skills provider of choice for the country’s public sector, a pooling of digital and data expertise, and a review of funding models with an eye on moving away from large capital expenditures towards more pay-as-you-go services.

In addition, there is an intent to explore the use of digital to improve participation and strengthen the democratic process.

Pandemic impact

“The pandemic has highlighted the potential benefits of the greater use of home and remote working supported by digital connectivity and technology,” the document says. “This could, if developed properly, and with the engagement and support of public sector staff to ensure that their wellbeing is safeguarded, have a significant impact on both efficiency and carbon footprint.

“Reform of this nature will take time. Not only does it require government to build new and effective operating platforms, it requires government to remove the legacy systems and replace long established practices to take advantage of them and embrace new working practices. It requires a relentless focus on operating efficiency with automation and spending controls on back office processes, so that we can invest in services that meet local needs.

“In short, it requires, the transformation of government.”

Other elements of the strategy focus on inclusivity, building a digital and data economy, supporting the technology sector and strengthening digital ethics.

Image by flickrtickr2009 from Wikimedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

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