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Digital leader needed to improve public services

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Scotland needs a digital leader to help drive the transformation of public services through new technologies, according to a report published today.

It claims that adopting innovative processes would improve efficiency and achieve savings of up to £200 million as online transaction costs can be up to fifty times cheaper than face to face transactions.

The report: Smart Citizens, Smart City Regions – Delivering Digital Public Services in Scotland’ has been published by Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI), ScotlandIS, The Royal Society of Edinburgh and BT Scotland.

It calls for distinct and high level leadership through a newly-created Digital Leader for Scotland.

The report coincides with the CivTech initiative which also encourages the public sector to adopt of new technologies.

Claire Mack, director of policy & place at SCDI, said: “The investments that have been made in digital infrastructure over recent years need to be fully utilised to help support our economic growth as a nation.

“Business is innovating constantly to respond to digital and technological disruption and users of services are coming to expect the convenience, personalisation and efficiency they get through their digital subscriptions, social media and app based services to apply to all areas of their lives.

Mark Dames, head of policy & public affairs for BT Scotland, added: “The integration of digital technologies in the reform of public services offers huge opportunities to introduce new ways of accessing, targeting and delivering public services using new technology.

“Simply saving money in delivering the services we currently offer, in the way we currently offer them, will not be enough to meet the inequality challenges in education and health, never mind meet the social and financial challenges of imminent and significant demographic change.”

Apart from appointing a digital leader, the report recommends benchmarking of performance against the Digital Scotland vision. It says there should be an “annual ministerial announcement of progress” to demonstrate leadership commitment.

It also says the Scottish public sector must build a relationship of trust with citizens that will “put citizens in control of their digital lives”.

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