In the dead of the Xmas period proving that neither electrons nor Ministers sleep the irrepressible Ed Vaizey asked for contributions to a digital strategy for the ‘next frontier’ of the UK’s ‘digital revolution’. I am not sure revolutions have frontiers as much as fronts, but putting this to one side and dimly recalling that i was involved in the original 2009 digital Britain work I thought it worth putting something in to help the new digital revolution turn out better than the last one.
Digital Britain Strategy – submission from William Perrin, Director, Talk About Local.
Focus as much energy on the grass roots as you do on the super stars – in broadband and digital skills. Technology policy is top down and rarely user focused. As we move to digital Britain it needs to become much more bottom up to enable all to benefit – the elderly, rural dwellers, unreformed bits of the public sector. The modern digital companies will benefit more the more people are accessible – whether through physical connection or personal skills. I attach a rural broadband blueprint from last Autumn that sets out how a bottom up approach would better serve the last 10%. Absent a broadband plan from the government the last 5% or so will be far more problematic in 2020 than they are now.
Radical reform of data governance – make Britain the best place to locate a data driven business, one that gives companies confidence that ethical and policy dilemmas will be thought out maturely with in a governance system, not dictated by societal fears, the tabloid press and an intrusive intelligence community. The challenges for the next ten years are more about the data passing over the networks than the networks themselves. Yet OFCOM is over twice the size of the ICO, which also has to deal with FOI. Introduce a true polluter pays model where the biggest data processors are compelled to pay for a better resourced system and small businesses pay nothing. Total reform of the Information Commissioner should make them as effective and as well-resourced as OFCOM, led by a board not an ad hominem Commissioner.
Work with the BBC to transition them from a broadcast driven business to an IP-driven one – the BBC is TV and radio focussed while its younger audience is increasingly moving away. The BBC’s Charter Review white papers give little indication of the long term existential threat this poses and they need to be incentivised/allowed to think about how they turn off TV altogether.
Support digital leadership and transformation in the voluntary sector. Much of British social fabric is dependent upon the voluntary and community sector – but the sector does not have the digital leadership skills it requires to match the societal change required in the transition to digital Britain.
Aspire to a digitally informed nation through modern local digital media – un-pack the complex set of apparently random subsidies to the non-BBC local media (VAT exemptions, statutory notices, cheap spectrum etc) and reform them to incentivise better local digital media from a broader, more plural range of players. And as a quid pro quo abolish local media ownership restrictions.
Apply the best skills of the Government Digital Service to the highest priority policy areas – it now seems that, after their build up phase working with outposts like DVLA, GDS is not 100% focussed on the government’s top policy areas.
Talk About Local 19/1/2016
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