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Scottish Government updates national digital strategy

12/03/21

Mark Say Managing Editor

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The Scottish Government has outlined plans for a digital service hub, public sector centre for excellence in digital technology and further development of the CivTech operation as elements of its updated national digital strategy.

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Titled A changing nation: how Scotland will thrive in the digital world, it has been developed with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) in consultation with business and the third sector.

It updates a strategy published in July 2018 and places a strong emphasis on public services within the broader aim of supporting the growth of the digital economy in the country, with a substantial section on government and services.

Among the specific plans is to set up a joint service innovation centre, building on the CivTech operation – which runs a series of public service innovation challenges – to make it a centre for innovation for national and local government. it will take public service problems and challenges and support entrepreneurs and small businesses to create, launch and implement digital solutions.

This will be accompanied by a new public sector centre of excellence for process automation, which will train staff in the requirements and commission joint projects and shared information on what works.

A digital service hub will involve a catalogue of services and components to be used as default across government, to be based on a common architecture, a joint approach to prioritisation, and joint design, commissioning, procurement and governance. As an example, the document points to a plan for a common online recruiting service.

Other plans include investment in analytical platforms, the development and implementation of a data transformation framework for its improvement and reuse, and the introduction of a new digital identity service for the public sector.

Otherwise it covers much familiar ground, emphasising the need to design services around user needs with security built in from the outset, adopt a common approach to online identity, to use common digital and data standards and build culture change.

Covid-19 factor

The document also acknowledges that the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how new services can be spun up quickly and existing ones scaled up at speed, while pointing out that good data is prerequisite to making this possible.

But it adds: “However, it has also demonstrated once again that not all organisations have the data maturity to optimise their services and that drivers are needed to move organisations through data transformation just as is being done with digital transformation.”

It identifies a solution for this in further developing the Research and Data Scotland service and building on the work of the Covid-19 data research service.

Innovation Minister Ivan McKee commented: “The response to the pandemic has seen the public and private sectors deliver new services online and at speed. We’ll build on that momentum to support Scotland’s people and its businesses to thrive in the digital world.”

Gail MacGregor, resources spokesperson for COSLA, said: “The response to the pandemic has sped up the pace of digital transformation and has demonstrated the progress that can be made when we work together. Local Government will continue to take on a leadership role in achieving this shared vision of an open and inclusive digital Scotland where no one is left behind.”

Image from iStock, Oleksii Iskonhi

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