The Scottish government has unveiled a new digital strategy that, it claims, will boost the number of technology jobs in the country, ensure broadband is available to all premises and introduce a new 'digital schools' programme.
The Scottish government says that it will also monitor the development and implications of new and emerging technologies, such as the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Derek Mackay, cabinet secretary for finance and the constitution, has overall responsibility for the new strategy. He said that the new strategy will build on the first digital strategy document that was published back in 2011.
Good progress, he added, had been made in delivering that agenda, which focused on extending connectivity, promoting the digital economy, digitising public services and promoting digital participation.
"We are now in a position to develop and describe future actions and priorities that build upon a platform of success," said Mackay.
In the new strategy document, entitled 'Realising Scotland's full potential in a Digital World', Mackay said that the government will put digital "at the heart of everything we do - in the way in which we deliver economic growth, reform our public services and prepare our children for the workplace of the future. It's a strategy for Scotland, not just the Scottish government".
There are 16 key elements to the plan. It includes the launch of a new digital growth fund, to address what it believes is an undersupply of digital skills, and a bid to work with industry to employ 150,000 people into digital technology roles in the next five years. A new digital schools programme will also be launched, as well as the expansion of the number of school coding clubs.
The Scottish government also says that it wants to introduce shared technology platforms as a core part of the process of public service reform.
The strategy includes plans to engage the public in building a better understanding of how data can be used for public benefit, and of the arrangements in place to guarantee the security of the data. It claims that better data sharing can generate new insights, stimulate new ideas and deliver potential savings to the public sector of more than £1bn.
Another one of the sixteen actions is to make sure Scotland's critical national infrastructure (CNI) is secure and resilient against cyber-attacks.
Ensuring every premise in Scotland is able to access broadband speeds of at least 30 Megabits per second (Mbps) is one of two ambitious connectivity plans.
The other, which has absolutely no chance of being adopted, being to urge the UK government and Ofcom to apply an ‘outside-in' principle when auctioning spectrum for 5G deployment. That would mean operators being compelled to deliver coverage to the most rural areas before they deploy in urban centres.
The Scottish government has also pledged to work with its schools, employers and skill providers to tackle what it calls "a persistent gender gap" in digital skills and careers. "Our vision is for Scotland to become even more digitally competitive and attractive," said Mackay.
He continued: "By developing our existing workforce, and increasing our digital capabilities across society and the business community, we will ensure that our citizens have the opportunity to improve their digital skills with everyone who wants to get connected able to do so, and public services designed by and for citizens that are secure.
"This will in turn will have a positive impact on growing our economy."
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