Te COVID-19 emergency response

Mass effort to provide digital services and resources as thousands have to stay home


With schools, council facilities and public buildings closing across the country, keeping everyone connected is a lifeline for many during the COVID-19 pandemic. With official government advice

on minimising social contact putting households on lockdown, people without access to digital services are left vulnerable. ScotlandIS - the tech trade

body - has issued a ‘call to arms’ to help bring digital services to homes across the country, aiming to urgently find, equip, train and support everyone in the country who has no access to internet en- abled devices, broadband or 4/5G, who may not be able to afford them – and may even lack other vital services such as landlines or televisions. An emergency national aid

effort including ScotlandIS and the Scottish Government, SCVO, Healthcare Improvement Scot-

HOME WORKING Thousands of private and public sector workers are now working from home following UK and Scottish Government advice. With online platforms such as Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams to replicate the office. IFB, which is on the UK Govern- ment’s Digital Cloud Marketplace framework, has launched a free one-to-one remote and home- working clinic service for its cus- tomers, to help business planning against the backdrop of COVID-19.

Digital technology is helping to keep the communications channels open

land, Glasgow Disability Alliance and others has already begun with specialist teams being set up targeting a group of 15,000 to 20,000 people living in poverty and in the vulnerable group for COVID-19. Meanwhile, even before the an-

nouncement that schools and other institutions should close, councils and individual schools were co- ordinating efforts to ensure educa- tional continuity, from nursery and P1 classes to students who had been preparing for exams. Education Secretary John Swin-

A company statement said: “We

know that in these uncertain times, protecting your team’s health and wellbeing while maintaining busi- ness productivity and continuity can be challenging. Our purpose is to maximise and support our customers’ uptime.” Broadband providers have reported

extra demand as more people work from home. EE said it has been “up- grading network capacity, increasing VPN connectivity, and implementing extra meeting and collaboration tools to meet this demand.”

ney told the Scottish Parliament: “I am confident that the teach- ing profession will respond in a variety of imaginative, creative and stimulating ways to support continuity in learning for pupils.” Students have been using

Glow and other online-learning platforms and schools have been emailing links to learning resourc- es and suggestions for activities for the protracted period of closures. Meanwhile, Sumdog, the Edin-

burgh-based developer of maths and numeracy-based games, has offered free access to all of its

EVENT CANCELLATIONS Many events have been cancelled or pushed back to later in the year as a result of the pandemic. FutureScot’s own series of events including Digital Scotland, Digital Health & Care 2020 and EduTech 2020 have all been postponed until the autumn.

DATA PROTECTION The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has told public bodies responding to coronavirus they will not face action under the GDPR. The regulator said it was taking

resources for as long as schools are closed, up until the start of the summer break. A statement from the company said: “As a social business it’s our mission to support the ongoing education of children.” Online educa- tional publishers Twinkl, based in Glasgow has also offered parents free access to all its resources for a month, to support continued learning at home. Universities had already can-

celled all face-to-face tuition and published their course materials online. l

a ‘pragmatic’ approach due to the ‘unprecedented challenges’ of the pandemic. In guidance issued to public bodies, the ICO said: “We under- stand that resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance or information governance work. “We won’t penalise organisations that we know need to prioritise other areas or adapt their usual ap- proach during this extraordinary period.”


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