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DIGITAL REVOLUTION MUST BENEFIT ALL IN SCOTLAND: DEWAR

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Digital revolution must benefit all in Scotland. That was the message from first minister Donald Dewar today when h...
Digital revolution must benefit all in Scotland. That was the message from first minister Donald Dewar today when he launched the Scottish executive's response to the recommendations of the Digital Scotland Task Force.

Speaking at a special breakfast at The Hub in Edinburgh in front of an audience which included members of the task force and six cabinet ministers, Mr Dewar said:

'The impact of the digital revolution is a matter for everyone in Scotland. It is not simply a matter of deploying technology but of benefiting the people of Scotland - all the people of Scotland.

'Scotland has a proud tradition of being at the forefront of social and economic change over the centuries. I see the digital transformation on which we are now embarked as our next major challenge.

'To be blunt we do not have a choice about becoming a digital nation - but we do have a choice about whether we do it well. And I am determined that Scotland will become a world class digital nation.

'The executive has given the task force recommendations careful consideration and I am pleased to be able to give them such a positive response.

'I am particularly convinced that in order to implement these recommendations we need strong leadership and that is why I see it as important to give the lead personally within the Scottish executive.

'Every minister in the executive will also ensure that recommendations are taken forward within their own portfolios and I have asked Peter Peacock to take on a special role as e-minister with specific responsibility for taking forward the Digital Scotland initiative, monitoring Scotland's progress, and generally bringing the message of digital opportunity to everyone in Scotland.

'More specifically we are setting out a well balanced agenda for action with four separate strands. They are:

* Digital commerce. We need to secure an efficient, competitive infrastructure that allows business, large and small, to survive and prosper

* Digital government. Action is needed to ensure the whole of the public sector - central government, local government, health service and other agencies - become an example of best practice using information and communications technologies to benefit the individual citizen

* Digital skills. Action is needed across the whole of the education and training sectors to ensure that the workforce and population at large has the skills to function in the new world that is coming.

* Digital inclusion. This is paramount to our plans. Technology must not be allowed to create exclusion. We must build Digital Scotland for all the people of Scotland..

'In recognition of the fact that this agenda is about much more than central government we are establishing a new group of key figures in the various relevant fields who will play a leadership role for their sectors.

'This group will act as a sounding board, to help stimulate new ideas and approaches, and benchmark Scotland's performance against digital economies in Europe and the rest of the world

'The task force has given us a terrific start in creating Digital Scotland. We in the Executive are committed to making it happen, But success will depend on everyone playing their role - as individuals, as organisations. Scotland's future depends on us getting this right.'

BACKGROUND

1. Digital Scotland was one of the priority crosscutting issues identified by the Scottish Executive last year. The overall aim of the initiative is to ensure that Scotland obtains and retains maximum economic and social advantage from digital technologies

2. A task force, drawn from public and private sectors and supported by departmental officials, was set up to recommend action. It created a number of working groups and looked at the information society issues facing Scotland, as well as work being undertaken across the UK, in Europe and elsewhere.

3. The task force produced a report on May 22 which was published on the World Wide Web and public consultation has now taken place.

4. A full copy of the executive's response to the task force is available on www.scotland.gov.uk/digitalscotland.

5. The Scottish executive announced earlier this week its support of the UK on line campaign announced by prime minister Tony Blair aimed at encouraging people , business and government to get on online.

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