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Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey is seeking fresh ideas from the public and wider tech industry on the direction of digital strategy in the UK.
Digital Economy Minister, Ed Vaizey is seeking fresh ideas from the public and wider tech industry on the direction of digital strategy in the UK.

In a blog post on GOV.UK, Vaizey explained: “In 2010, a revolution began. Changes were afoot in London as a cluster of startups began a digital transformation. In the last five years, the UK’s digital economy has changed beyond recognition – in ways few would have predicted.

Almost every part of the UK economy and our lives has been digitised – from how we shop to the way we travel to work and manage our health.

Digital fever has spread to every part of the country, making the UK a ‘tech nation’ with more than 70 per cent of digital businesses based outside of the capital.

This revolution has been led by agencies, entrepreneurs and organisations and supported by Government in order to create an environment for ideas and businesses to flourish. We’ve built a great base – but we need to work hard to make sure we continue to take advantage of the benefits digital has to offer, as an economy and as a society. Other countries are hot on our heels, but we want the UK to be synonymous with digital – a place where digital technologies transform day-to-day life, the economy and Government.

Early next year, we’ll set out a new digital strategy for the UK, looking to the next five years. Working with colleagues across Government it will set the agenda for the rest of Parliament on digital, so that the UK continues to lead the way.

When people want to engage in digital business, trial new ways of working or invest in cutting-edge technology, we want them to choose the UK. This is about nurturing the digital frontier, firmly planting our stake in the digital global market, and getting the world to buy into our success.

In order to ensure this happens, we have to get four key things right:

Unlocking digital growth

We need to take bold steps to create an open and flexible environment for digital innovation that crosses country borders. This means pushing for the completion of the Digital Single Market in Europe, which could create a €415 billion boost of economic growth for the region.

But this isn’t even just about the ‘tech’ sector. Every business can benefit from using digital technology – from hairdressers and corner shops to car makers, and everything in between. How can we make sure we support businesses to make the most of this potential?

Transforming government

The UK is already seen as a pioneer in digital government – when the US government created USA.gov they copied our model. But government services need to be as good as the best consumer services. Renewing your passport should be as easy as buying a book online, so what more can we do to make sure interacting with government is as simple and seamless as possible?

Transforming the day-to-day

New technologies are changing our lives. We need to make sure that wherever government is involved – as the service provider, regulator, or a major buyer – we are making the most of it.

In the NHS, routine is already shifting from a largely paper-based system to digital-by-default. What more can we do to make our health system more efficient and joined up, so that doctors and nurses can spend more time saving lives and improving care?

How can we make sure the UK is at the cutting edge of these developments?

Building the foundations

We need to secure the fundamental aspects of every digital strategy to make everything else possible. We’re working hard to make Internet access ubiquitous, so everyone can access it whenever and wherever they need it.

As more of our activities are conducted online, the need for protection from cyber criminals increases. We mustn’t let these dangers prevent us from accessing the benefits of a digital economy. That’s why we’re spending £1.9 billion over the next five years through the National Cyber Security Programme.

Given that digital is ingrained in almost everything we do, assured digital skills are increasingly vital for all. It’s estimated around 90% of all jobs over the next 20 years will require some level of digital skills, so we need to make sure they’re at the heart of our education system, and that people can keep their skills regularly updated.

Come 2020, the UK landscape will have changed to be firmly in the digital age. But how do you want to shape that? Challenge us – push us to do more. Let’s show the rest of the world how it’s done.

You can send your thoughts on the direction of digital strategy to http://digitalstrategy@culture.gov.uk by 19 January 2016.”

To read the full blog post, visit GOV.UK.

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