Last edited 01 Mar 2017

UK Digital Strategy

On 1 March 2017, the government published the UK Digital Strategy. This applies the principles outlined in the Building our Industrial Strategy: green paper to the digital economy, and builds on the Government Transformation Strategy, which maps how the government will transform the relationship between the citizen and the state to improve public services.

The Digital Strategy is described as a first statement in an ongoing conversation between digital businesses and government.

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The Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said the government is committed to; “…ensuring the UK is the best place to start and grow a digital business, trial a new technology, or undertake advanced research - and that the UK digital sectors remain world-leading. This requires supportive regulation but also first-class digital infrastructure and an advanced skills base.”

The government suggest that more than four million free digital skills training opportunities will be created as part of the Strategy, including:

  • A plan by Lloyds Banking Group to give face-to-face digital skills training to 2.5 million individuals, charities and small and medium businesses by 2020.
  • Plans by Barclays to teach basic coding to 45,000 children and assist up to one million people with general digital skills and cyber awareness.
  • A pledge by Google, as part of their commitment of five hours of free digital skills for everyone, to help boost digital skills in seaside towns.

The strategy includes seven strands:

  • Building world-class digital infrastructure for the UK.
  • Giving everyone access to the digital skills they need.
  • Making the UK the best place to start and grow a digital business.
  • Helping every British business become a digital business.
  • Making the UK the safest place in the world to live and work online.
  • Maintaining the UK government as a world leader in serving its citizens online.
  • Unlocking the power of data in the UK economy and improving public confidence in its use.

However, there have been criticisms that the Strategy does not go far enough, and questions about where the money will come from.

On construction, the Strategy states:

'Over the last two decades construction has had the lowest productivity and R&D investment rates of any industrial sector in the UK. Following a government initiative in 2011, construction clients and their industrial supply-chain are starting to adopt a digital approach through the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM); we now lead the world in its implementation. Last year, digital construction made a major contribution to savings of £1.2 billion in government construction programmes.

In February 2015 government set out the next phase of digital construction with the launch of Digital Built Britain (DBB). This strategy introduces more sophisticated digital and data tools, incorporating performance measurement of assets and service through the Internet of Things, sensors and telemetry. This is further supported by the coordination of government policy of Smart Cities with DBB to provide asset owners, service providers and the construction sector with an integrated, safe and secure data-infrastructure to ensure the future provision of social infrastructure and services.

Ultimately, DBB will create a direct data chain between the design, construction, commissioning and operation of assets to enhance social outcomes and, through data feedback mechanisms, provide a basis for continued improvement in asset design and performance.'

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