TechTown

Posted on 11/09/18 by Matthew Snowden in

In March this year, the UK Government released its digital strategy; the plans it hopes will lay the foundations for a digital economy that is able to adapt to changing global markets.

The strategy is split into seven key strands, infrastructure, skills, digital start-up support, digital development for established businesses, online security, the provision of online services and data. Here, we have an overview of what the government plans within each of them.

Infrastructure

As the government acknowledges that digital connectivity is now an essential part of life, it’s logical for the foundation of the strategy to be a robust digital framework upon which the digital economy can be built.

What this means, in reality, is a commitment to connectivity and the roll-out of 4G and superfast broadband by 2020.  It’s hoped that this will pave the way for greater investment in digital, which the government will underpin with a £1 billion investment in fibre and 5G. There will also be greater access to public wi-fi.

Skills

Without skills, the digital economy cannot grow. For new business start-ups, entrepreneurial activity and for digital innovation to take place in existing businesses, skills must be developed and education in the digital sector must be encouraged.

The government is committing to the provision of free training in basic digital skills, putting them in line with the current provision for adult numeracy and literacy skills.

To ensure that the digital evolution within the various sectors a new Digital Skills Partnership will bring together tech and traditional businesses, local government and other involved organisations to give greater access to digital jobs.

In addition, coding will become part of a new National Curriculum, from Key Stage One – early primary years.

Digital Start-up Support

The government strategy aims to make “the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business.

It aims to build on the almost 200,000 digital businesses that existed in the UK in 2014, with their corresponding 1.4 million jobs.

To help businesses develop, the government has committed to ‘innovation-friendly regulation’ helping new technology to be adopted more easily.

Research and development funding will see an investment of an additional £4.7 billion by 2020-21.

Digital Development for Existing Businesses

In order for the digital economy to thrive, there must also be buy-in from other sectors too.

Helping existing businesses to access the latest digital technology and data and encouraging digital innovation within these businesses will be vital.

The government has already announced £13 million worth of funding that will be used to create a private sector-led Productivity Council.

This will help to improve productivity across the economy, with a focus on the use of digital technologies.

Online Security

Cyber-security is an essential element of a successful digital economy.

The government is firming up its commitment to the National Cyber Security Centre and to support it with the introduction of ‘Active Cyber Defence’, which will essentially be a partnership between GCHQ and the ISPs.

Internet safety for children and young people will continue to be high on the agenda, with support for broadband providers and the introduction of age verification controls for the access of adult content.

The Provision of Online Services

Public services are becoming more and more self-accessed and managed, through online servicing.

This move towards ‘digital government’ will continue; the Government already pledged to go ‘further and faster’ in it’s Government Transformation Strategy, which was published in February.

An increase to the existing offer of online, digital tools and platforms is in the pipeline, with the government setting a target of 25 million GOV.UK Verify users by 2020.

The Government also plans to use digital to further improve the efficiency of public services, at a lower cost.

Data

The Government aims to make the UK “a world-leading data-driven economy.

Data is already a valuable commodity and in order to ensure people are assured that their information is secure and being used appropriately, the Government has committed to implementing to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by May 2018.

These strands will form the basis of everything the Government plans to do to nurture and grow the digital economy.

The full strategy document has much more detail and we will be looking at it in more detail in future posts.