In the last few weeks the government's public service reform announcements have all involved significant investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT) in order to deliver. ippr believes politicians and policy-makers can no longer ignore the implications for wider public policy. The Manifesto for a Digital Britain aims to bring ICT to the centre of political debate.
- Whitehall efficiency: ICT is critical to achieving the 2.5% efficiency savings, targeted by the chancellor in the recent spending review.
- Health: electronic patient records and online appointment booking systems play a central role in future health strategy.
- Security: digital technologies are at the centre of anti-terrorism, immigration and crime policies. Persistent offenders will be tagged by satellite for the first time; ID cards play a key role in future security and migration strategies.
- Transport: a national congestion charging schemes is entirely dependent on new technology, such as Global Positioning Satellite.
- Content: downloading music from the internet is now a mainstream activity, with over half a million legal downloads made in the UK during the first half of 2004. The debate over intellectual property rights and the internet is now a mainstream consumer issue.
ippr senior research fellow William Davies said:
'No area of policy making can afford to ignore the implications of the changes new technology will bring. The purpose of the Manifesto is to tackle the perception that ICT is a specialist interest, so that policy-makers can no longer dismiss technological issues as 'geeky', and ICT itself is no longer seen as something outside of our control.'
A Manifesto for a Digital Britain will focus on the following themes:
- The knowledge economy
- News, information and digital media
- Communities and participation
- Security and privacy
- Ownership and intellectual property
- E-government - renewing the inputs
- E-government - evaluating the outputs
- Future forms of e-government
The Manifesto for a Digital Britain will produce regular web reports and a final publication in March 2005.
Communications minister Stephen Timms said:
'ICT is at the heart of government strategy and harnessing the potential of new and developing technologies remains a key challenge for us all.
'Government is investing in science and innovation and R&D to help generate a successful and vibrant economy that will exploit the opportunities that ICTs offer.
'And to meet the new demands of these technologies, it is the government's aim to make the UK a world leader for supplying ICT skills and also to deliver higher standards of education through ICTs.
'Government has a key role in advancing the development and use of ICT through creating e-government. With nearly three quarters of government services online already, this will help deliver efficiency savings as well as better public services.'
A full outline of the Manifesto for a Digital Britain work programme is available here.