Monday 11th February 2013 saw the launch of the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s latest independent major Inquiry into “Spreading the Benefits of Digital Participation Inquiry” in Edinburgh.
The Inquiry is jointly chaired by Professors Michael Fourman and Alan Alexander and will involve a group of experts in the field. They will engage with people, communities and businesses across Scotland, as well as examining examples of good practice internationally before producing a report towards the end of 2013.
The Inquiry will examine how Scotland can best maximise the societal and economic benefits of digital technology.
Sir John Arbuthnott, President of the RSE commented,
“We are in a revolutionary age in communications. Through social media, e-mails and the internet, the world is a smaller place than ever. However to release the full potential of this we need to ensure that everyone in our society has the opportunity, means and knowledge to participate.
Currently that is not the case – almost 40% of households in Glasgow are not connected to broadband and around half of small businesses in Scotland do not have an online presence. The RSE has launched this Inquiry to identify the ways in which Scotland can become one of the best connected countries in the world – a country in which citizens are enabled to connect with employment and public service opportunities at the click of a button.”
Professor Michael Fourman said,
“This Inquiry builds on the earlier work that the RSE undertook on Digital Scotland. We identified the need for a national digital infrastructure, and looked at the technological and investment barriers to establishing a fully connected Scotland.
Scotland now has a strategy to bring everyone within reach of an Internet connection. We are now concerned that many people, businesses, and organisations do make best use the technologies that are already available, and miss out on many of the benefits. Our new inquiry will examine the obstacles to digital participation — including financial, social, cultural and educational barriers. We will then provide evidence based recommendations to help ensure that the potential benefits of a Digital Scotland are realised, and fairly spread; enjoyed in every region, by every community.”
Professor Alan Alexander, in calling for a full engagement with interested people, communities and individuals said,
“While the RSE has many knowledgeable people within its Fellowship and there are many other individuals who have offered to help in our work, it is essential if we are to provide a sound basis to the conclusions that the inquiry reaches that we engage with and receive submissions from all over Scotland. We want to hear from people and communities, businesses and the public sector, and importantly from those not yet digitally engaged. Addressing the digital divide is crucial to the future prosperity and social cohesion of Scotland.”
The Inquiry Committee will be gathering evidence throughout the first half of the year and are expected to report in November 2013. The Inquiry Committee will be touring Scotland and inviting comment from all sectors and individuals, particularly those not yet digitally engaged. There will also be opportunities to contribute to the Inquiry through a variety of channels, including this blog.
If you are interested in contributing your own comments or would like to suggest approaches for engaging particular communities then please leave a comment here on the Inquiry blog or contact the Inquiry Committee via the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
You can find out more about the Inquiry:
- Today’s Royal Society of Edinburgh news item about the Inquiry
- Information on the Inquiry and it’s Remit can be found on the RSE website. See also the Strands of Inquiry page here on the blog.
- Support for the Inquiry – information on those who have provided financial support for this inquiry.
Information for Press & Media:
- The Royal Society of Edinburgh’s press release on the Inquiry [PDF] also includes contact details for the media.
- Press can obtain licensed images of the event via New Wave Images.