Glasgow’s digital vision promises a citywide 3D strategy, online budget consultations – and an iPad for every child

Scotland’s largest city outlines plan to use technology to transform economy and public services

Credit: John Lindie/CC BY 2.0

Glasgow City Council has published a wide-ranging strategy for using digital and technology to transform the city’s economy and public services.

The plan is split into two core aims, each covering four areas and featuring a cumulative total of 74 individual actions – including initiatives and investments in infrastructure, digital platforms, and technical skills – that the authority intends to undertake in the coming months and years.

The first aim states that “we want businesses across all of our sectors to realise the potential that digital provides, to stimulate innovation, and to establish Glasgow’s tech sector as a top 20 global digital economy”.

This aim is split into four sections, the first of which addresses “digital business”. The actions the council will take in this area include “a review of the potential impact of digital on Glasgow’s key sectors”. The authority will also be making an effort to attract more technology conferences and other events to Glasgow, the strategy said.

In the area of “digital skills and employment”, Glasgow will undertake a review to identify skills gaps. 

The city’s “digital inclusion and participation” initiatives, meanwhile, will include a programme of work to ensure “that everybody who needs access to Universal Credit has the necessary digital skills to apply”.

The key action in the area of “digital connectivity” will be to identify a partner – presumably a network infrastructure firm – with which the city can team up and “invest, build and manage a shared digital communications infrastructure”.

The second aim of the Digital Glasgow Strategy is that “we want Glasgow to be recognised as one of the most pioneering and innovative smart cities in the world, and we want to apply this innovation to transforming our public services”.

This aim covers a wide range of actions grouped under the banner of “digital and smart services”, including a pledge to increase the proportion of council transactions with citizens that are completed online.

The strategy in numbers

Nine years old
Age from which Glaswegian schoolchildren will have access to an iPad

Top 20
Where Glasgow’s digital economy will rank globally

Potential speed increase in schools’ internet connections

Number of smart bins that will be deployed across the city

                 Number of actions the council has pledged to undertake to fulfil the strategy

Glasgow also intends to vastly widen access to digital health services, including rolling out new technology and analytics as part of its telecare service – which allows older citizens to request emergency care at home.

The city will also provide Apple iPads to every child from P6 level – which includes children of 9 and 10 – and upwards. This will see 50,00 devices rolled out in what the council said is the “largest deployment of its kind in the world”. 

Scotland’s largest city is to “develop a 3D strategy”, which will involve the creation of “an intelligent 3D city model for use across a range of public services in the city”. 

Investments in smart city technology will include rolling out 22,000 smart street lights, as well as smart bins and other kit. Schools’ internet connections will also be boosted to become up to 100 times faster than they are currently.

In the area of “digital community engagement and empowerment” Glasgow will increase of its use online consultations with citizens – including for council budget plans – and will also “introduce a new digital service that allows people to vote on local community matters”.

The authority’s “digital leadership” actions will include providing digital awareness training for all councillors and senior officials, as well as a wider skills programme for the city as a whole.

Glasgow is also planning to invest in its “digital foundations”, including upgrading the capacity of public WiFi networks. Council employees will be equipped with new devices, while the authority’s existing estate of “disparate business applications” will be consolidated and, in some cases, replaced by reusable platforms.

“The strategy and the partnership working across the city that it underpins will help us take the next steps in becoming a digital global leader.”
Angus Millar, Glasgow City Council

Citizens will be given greater control of the collection and use of their personal data, the strategy pledged. For its part, the council intends to create a “data ethics framework” and has committed to publishing more open data.

Councillor Angus Millar, Glasgow City Council’s depute city convener for economic growth, said: “We are living in a time of huge and accelerating technological change, and we need to ensure that Glasgow is ready to embrace the opportunities and meet the challenges that the digital revolution will bring for our economy and the future of our public services. 

He added: “While Glasgow is already recognised as an innovative smart city with a strong and diverse digital tech sector, the Digital Glasgow Strategy and the partnership working across the city that it underpins will help us take the next steps in becoming a digital global leader – and it will guide the city in taking advantage of the opportunities digital technology offers to improve our public services and create inclusive economic growth that people across Glasgow can benefit from.”

Sam Trendall

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