A NEW report focusing on the digital transformation of public services in Scotland has highlighted the need to accelerate the pace of change to ensure Scotland reaps the opportunities offered by new technologies.
The report, ‘Smart Citizens, Smart City Regions – Delivering Digital Public Services in Scotland’, has been published by Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), ScotlandIS, The Royal Society of Edinburgh and BT Scotland and calls for distinct and high-level leadership through a newly-created Digital Leader for Scotland role.
Mark Dames, head of Policy & Public Affairs for BT Scotland and member of SCDI’s ‘Smart Citizens, Smart City Regions’ Steering Group, commented: “In order for Scotland’s citizens to reap the rewards of a digital nation, leadership from local and central government and the wider public sector is required to set Scotland on a course to achieving the vision outlined in this report.
“The foundations are strong, and the integration of digital technologies in the reform of public services offers huge opportunities to introduce new ways of accessing, targeting and delivering public services using new technology.
The report acknowledges that change due to technology will be a constant process but warns of the need to get up to speed now to maintain a steady position in the future.
Infrastructure rollout has presented some enormous challenges for Scotland but these are steadily being overcome. There will be a need to apply new thinking around how citizens use services and how data led service design will change the way in which Scotland’s public sector delivers in order to offer more targeted and efficient services in the future.
The recommendations are that:
* The Scottish Government should appoint a high-profile Digital Leader for Scotland to lead Scotland’s digital transformation: to drive public and private data sharing; devise and project a compelling vision for Digital Scotland; progress action towards this vision; and contribute to economic growth through enhanced productivity of public services.
* The Scottish Government, working with local authorities, should devise a set of metrics that allow for annual benchmarking of performance against the Digital Scotland vision. An annual ministerial announcement of progress would demonstrate leadership commitment.
* The Scottish public sector must build a relationship of trust with citizens that will underpin faster rollout of digital public services and put citizens in control of their digital lives. The development of a trusted ‘data bank’ mechanism that covers data collection, sharing and storage of personal data of citizens will require top-level leadership.
* An audit of local authority functions and public services such as health and policing should be conducted by the service leaders, the recently-appointed local authority Chief Digital Officer and Scotland’s Digital Leader to assess the impact of digital transformation on employment and to identify and prioritise the services that can be digitalised most easily and/or that will result in greatest impact.
The message of the report is that Digital is here and it can be an enabler, but it needs public sector leaders in Scotland to light the way.
The challenge, as the report sees it, is for the public sector to take the reins.
Notes to editors:
SCDI (Scottish Council for Development & Industry) is an independent and inclusive economic development network which seeks to influence and inspire Government and key stakeholders with our ambitious vision to create sustainable economic growth for Scotland. SCDI’s diverse and influential membership – across the public, private and social economy sectors - forms a gathering of knowledge, experience and talent which provides a dynamic and creative force for change.
* The new ‘Smart Citizens, Smart City Regions – Delivering Digital Public Services in Scotland’ report, including case studies, is accessible at this link:
For further information, please contact: Claire Mack – director of Policy & Place, SCDI
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