FASTER internet connections will drive economic growth, connect communities and bring the digital revolution to the whole of Scotland, Alex Neil said today.
Publishing Scotland’s Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan, the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure and Capital Investment said the plan will deliver faster internet access, no matter where you are in the country.
To deliver the plan, the Scottish Government aims to secure investment worth hundreds of millions from both the public and private sector. Public funding of £185m has already been identified.
Improving mobile coverage across Scotland is also an important element of the plan – to ensure people have good access, on the move and wherever they are, to phone and data services from hand held devices such as mobile and smart phones.
Key actions in the plan include:
- by summer 2012, commencing a procurement for infrastructure that will deliver substantial improvements for all by 2015.
- by April 2012, establishing a £5m seed fund to support local projects and innovative solutions that have the potential for large scale roll out.
This will be supported by a range of actions to increase take-up and internet use by individuals, businesses and public sector; and working with industry, Ofcom, UK Government, local government, enterprise agencies and others to ensure the best digital outcomes for Scotland in the most cost-effective manner.
Faster internet access will:
- help businesses to extend their customer base and deepen customer relationships through high-resolution video calls, increase online trading and more advanced digital marketing.
- help rural communities and fragile areas to become more connected, boosting business growth, retaining young people and attracting new residents.
Mr Neil said:
“Listening to businesses and communities, we know faster internet access is vitally important, both for the economy and for people’s everyday lives.
“This plan is a crucial step towards achieving world-class digital connectivity across Scotland, substantially improving the ability of our businesses to compete in worldwide markets.
“It will ensure our communities, particularly those in rural and remote areas, remain vibrant, strong and connected.
“Securing the digital infrastructure we all need is a vision shared by all interested parties – public, private, local and national government.
“This plan sets out how we will work with the private sector, but also acknowledges public funding will be vital for hard to reach areas.
“We have already identified substantial funding totalling £185 million, and aim to build on that significantly, in particular through levering in private funding.
“We will continue to work with industry to ensure that best value is secured from every public pound spent.
“We are also committed to building a strong relationship with local government to deliver at pace while taking account of local circumstances and expertise.
“There is no doubt that digital is the way forward and we relish the challenge to put Scotland at the forefront of the digital revolution and make world-class digital infrastructure a reality.”
Mr Neil met students who are participating in the Cisco Networking Academy programme to talk about the digital skills they are learning and met small and medium-sized businesses who have worked with the Networking Academy programme to enhance their business through digital technologies.
Donald McLaughlin, director for Cisco Scotland & Ireland and board member of ScotlandIS, the trade body for the digital sector in Scotland said: “Digital infrastructure is a vital foundation of Scotland’s economy and a prime catalyst to supercharge our economic growth.
“Creating a society which can engage with technology successfully is key to maximising the success of any digital strategy.
“Through our networking academies, Cisco has been encouraging participation in digital technology for over a decade, enhancing the skills of hundreds of people to improve their employability and their lives.
“We have invested millions of pounds in Scotland over the last 12 years.
“As a result, we are very encouraged by the plans being outlined by the Scottish Government on improving Scotland’s digital infrastructure and look forward to seeing the positive impact this will have on the wider Scottish economy.”
Derrick McCourt, Microsoft regional director for Scotland, said: “I am delighted that Scotland’s Digital Future – Infrastructure Action Plan announced today not only identifies investment to create a word-class infrastructure for Scotland, but recognises the need for a programme to increase take-up of digital services to deliver better outcomes for our nation.
“The alliance behind Scotland’s Digital Participation Charter is now developing detailed thinking around aligning its members’ resources to initiatives that support Youth Employment, the older members of our society, public service delivery and support for the business community.
“Likewise, we will continue to look at how resources from public and private sector can be better aligned to deliver real community benefit in both education and health.
“It’s an exciting time to be involved in digital participation in Scotland.”
To view Scotland’s Digital Future: Infrastructure Action Plan go to http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0038/00386525.pdf
Modern digital connectivity is one of the essential components of creating a successful country.
The faster broadband speeds that will be delivered as a result of the actions set out in the plan will make a significant impact on the way people live and do business. Scotland’s ambition is for everyone by 2015 to benefit from a significant improvement, with speeds of 40 – 80Mbps for between 85 per cent to 90 per cent of premises.
It will enhance business communication, allowing workers to collaborate in real-time from different geographical locations on secure workspaces in the cloud; and extend customer relationships through high-resolution video calls, increased online trading and more advanced digital marketing. In rural communities and fragile areas it has the potential to boost business growth, retain young people and attract new residents.
The Cisco Networking Academy programme, delivered by Glasgow’s Regeneration Agency, is one of a number of global education programmes, that teaches students how to design, build, troubleshoot, and secure computer networks for increased access to career and economic opportunities in communities around the world.
The Glasgow Academy provides online courses, interactive tools and hand-on learning activities to help individuals prepare for ICT and networking careers in virtually every type of industry.
Microsoft has supported numerous major countries in the development of their Digital Strategies using the GovCamp concept. For GovCamp Scotland Microsoft worked with local partners including MJI Business Solutions, Sopra Group, University of Edinburgh and Storm ID to deliver a memorable conference in November 2011 where Scotland’s Digital Future was debated.
The GovCamp Scotland partnership is the first of its kind and a key outcome has been the signing of the Digital Participation Charter which has attracted over 30 organisations to date who have signed up to work together to improve Digital Participation in Scotland.
This has marked a new national alliance across public, private and third sectors raise digital participation levels. www.govcampscotland.com/charter
Elaine McKean: 0131 244 2670 / 07825 905 987.
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