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Searching for Over-arching Policy Priorities – and finding the digital bottom line PDF Print E-mail
Written by David Brunnen   
Saturday, 21 February 2015 16:58

seeing the light

There’s a mighty consensus in the making – but this consensus is not some ‘motherhood and apple pie’ dream that leads only to drift and indecision.

This is a time when multiple policy pennies are dropping on top of each other, cascading as if from a herd of confessional fruit machines suddenly seeing the errors of their one-armed banditry and seeking to make retribution.

There’s a report this week from a House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills – 144 pages of blindingly obvious common sense.  Similarly last November the RSA reached the end of a year-long contemplation of city growth – with calls for action neatly coincident with post-Scottish-Referendum demands for local empowerment of economic activity.  Just this last month, Judith Rodin (Rockefeller Foundation) launched an edition of her Resilience Dividend aimed squarely at city leaderships. 

The pre-election competition for pole policy position is diverse:

Health, Ecology, Circular Economies, Deficit Reduction, Infrastructure Planning, Municipal Enterprise, Sharing Economy, Energy, Food Security and Permacultures, Defence against a resurgence of faux-religious wars, Resilience, Smart Cities, Digital Skills . . . . . 

Remarkably, in this out-pouring of ‘what can be done’ viewpoints, there is a common theme and a great deal of silo-defying common sense.

The House of Lords committee, with a mighty hammer, whacked the nail home for almost everyone.  ‘We are facing a tsunami of technological change, driven by the digital revolution, affecting virtually all areas of our lives.’ And just a few pages on they consign ‘The Digital Economy’ to its final resting place in the scrapyard of the outworn and meaningless: ‘The whole economy has become digitised’.  There is but one UK economy and all this digital stuff is no longer some optional pursuit for clever clogs with computers.

So, in this massively consensual context, framed (and frit) by the digital realities, the priorities become clear.  No matter which way you look at our current economic performance or future aspirations, the bottom line, the essential enabler of growth and opportunity, lies in the quality, availability and fitness for purpose of digital infrastructures.  For sure we can argue about what we do with it, but without it we will do very little.

The priorities then are very clear - future proofing is the order of the day.  As other countries race ahead, we’d best not waste effort searching around to allocate blame for current cul-de-sacs and stranded investments.  The nation needs seriously, urgently, to consider the prospects and processes for trying to catch up.

As ever, if you are not angry, you have not been paying attention.


Projections of Fibre Maturity are at 


Last Updated on Friday, 27 February 2015 23:34

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