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GOVTECH


Partnerships formed in response to pandemic will underpin updated vision of Scotland’s tech future


Covid drives digital strategy refresh


BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


A refreshed national digital strategy for Scotland will be “commensurate” with the level of economic and social shock experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Scot- tish Government’s digital director. Colin Cook revealed some of


the detail behind government thinking on an updated national vision for digital, which will be based on an increased level of cooperation with industry, local government and the third sec- tor, following a number of key partnerships formed in response to the coronavirus. Te Scottish Government’s


digital directorate worked closely with local authorities and the voluntary sector on the creation of the Connecting Scotland programme in early 2020, which sought to put digital equipment and data in the hands of some of


Scotland’s most digitally excluded and socially marginalised groups during lockdown. To date, the programme has


now been allocated £43m in gov- ernment funding and will benefit 50,000 people by the end of 2021. Government has also played a role working with ScotlandIS, the tech trade body and the tech volun- teers who spearheaded emergency work carried out by the Scottish Tech Army during the pandemic. All of the partnerships that


have been established during lockdown have underpinned the joint approach between govern- ment and COSLA – the umbrella group for Scotland’s 32 local authorities – who launched a consultation process together. Work is now underway to assess the responses to that consulta- tion, which was scheduled to close on 23 December, before an expected formal unveiling of the new document in spring 2021.


6 | FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21 Cook said: “We have been over-


whelmed and delighted by the responses we have received thus far, and we will be taking time to study those before the strategy becomes public, which we antici- pate will be some time in spring. Despite the most challenging of circumstances, the enthusiasm for building an even better digital Scotland has never been greater.”


Speaking at Digital Scotland, the annual public sector digital


and data conference on 1 Decem- ber (organised by FutureScot), he said that the lessons learned since March will form part of how Scotland recovers from the coronavirus crisis. “My hopes for the consultation are clear. Tat through the responses that we receive we energise all of those with an interest in the success of Scotland as a digital nation, that we learn the lessons of the past, and in particular the lessons of the past few months, and together


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