In the digital age, a successful country will be one in which everybody has the opportunity to get online and is able to enjoy the many benefits that the internet can bring. As we build a world class Digital Scotland, we are therefore determined to ensure that everyone has the skills, confidence and opportunity to benefit from digital technologies.
Our approach to improving digital participation relies on strong partnerships with communities, businesses, the third sector and public bodies to create a positive digital culture where best practice is shared and embedded across the country. As a society, we need to ensure that we all feel safe online and that we foster active and responsible digital citizens with the skills and confidence to grasp new opportunities to communicate widely, express opinions and engage in our democratic processes in an ethically and socially responsible way.
Future-proofed digital connectivity provides the foundation of this ambition. It enables Scottish businesses to promote their products and services at home and abroad, supports the delivery of high quality public services and provides all of us with the opportunity to tap directly into information and knowledge from around the world.
Our investment in infrastructure to allow people to be digitally connected is, of course, only part of the story. However essential it might be, the real benefits of the internet - for people, for businesses and indeed for governments - will only be realised if we have a digitally confident, creative and skilled population that is able to make full use of any time, any place, anywhere connectivity. This will maximise the benefits people can derive from technology and will, in turn, increase demand for digital services, drive demand for increasingly faster connectivity and attract further investment in digital infrastructure. ( Figure 1)
Critically, we need to ensure that we grasp the opportunity that digital technologies offer to tackle deep rooted social and economic inequalities in our society. We must prevent such inequalities from being reinforced. This requires us to do more to stimulate demand and increase digital literacy and confidence amongst those who do find themselves excluded from the digital world, drawing, where possible, on the experiences and enthusiasm of those who have embraced the internet to encourage and support others to do the same.