Policy & Programme
Computers, mobile media and the Internet now impact upon all aspects of our daily lives from education, health and business, through to security, culture and leisure.
It also changes the way people deal with their government, the private sector and with each other.
Government policies and programmes must enable all aspects of society in Wales to benefit from the opportunities and benefits of existing and emerging technologies.
The e-Wales division, created in 2006, will ensure that Wales has the right policies and programmes in place to ensure that information, communication technology (ICT) is exploited to:
• boost economic development
• improve the way public services are delivered
• promote social inclusion – in particular tackling the digital divide
A core component of the e-Wales portfolio is the Broadband Wales programme. With the support of partners from across the public, private and voluntary sector of Wales, the programme aims to provide accessible, affordable broadband access across Wales by March 2007.
e-Wales is a new strategy and policy development division within the Welsh Assembly Government. It is charged with maximising the advantage to individuals, communities and businesses of using the powerful channels offered by information and communications technologies to earn, learn and interact effectively with the world.
e-Wales will work collaboratively with other Welsh Assembly Government departments and its partners to strengthen Wales’ international standing on the global information and communication technology (ICT) stage.
To ensure that e-Wales will develop best possible policies and programmes we will continuously identify and enhance best practice in the use of ICT from across the world.
e-Wales will provide a new focus, ensuring that strategy and policy embed these technologies in public services and the nation’s life.
To achieve that we focus on:
* Building Wales’ knowledge of ICT best practice
* Increasing Wales’ capacity to exploit ICT
* Developing a culture of innovation in the use of ICT
* Ensuring our physical infrastructure is equal to the challenge
* Developing the appropriate information infrastructure
* Understanding and exploiting convergence
The New Strategy
We are currently working with partners to develop a strategy to give Wales a genuine international lead in the application of ICT.
Wales has an impressive track record in the adoption of new technologies for public services, business and private life.
We are conscious of how quickly the world is embracing these technological innovations, and the new e-Wales strategy is being designed to ensure that we keep pace with the most advanced nations in the world.
The strategy document will set out how the Welsh Assembly Government plans to drive and embed ‘e’ across its policies and practices and enable Wales’s transition to a knowledge economy and society.
The e-Wales strategy will be available to download for consultation in the near future.
‘The communication of information over a distance by means of radio waves, optical signals or along a transmission line.’ Source: www.science.org
With the rapid growth of new technologies, the impact of telecommunications has far reaching impact. Mobile phones, PDA’s, digital radio and the internet all have a major part to play in the way that we engage with one another and conduct our daily lives.
‘In 2004 total revenues in the UK communications market were £55.9 billion, accounting for 4.1% of UK GDP. The majority of this was derived from telecommunications.’
Source: Ofcom Communications report 2005
Mobile phone calls now exceed fixed-line calls; there are more households with a broadband connection than those connected by dial-up and digital radio and TV continues to be adopted throughout the UK.
The need for new services and applications is being driven by the rapid change in technologies which will affect businesses and individuals across Wales.
With this in mind, e-Wales has a clear aim to ensure that Wales has an appropriate and effective strategy, encompassing telecommunications and broadband. With active involvement and consultation with the public and private sector in both the UK and European, e-Wales will strive to develop a telecommunication strategy and develop policy that will build on examples of best practise from around the world.
What is a Digital Eco-system?
‘…geographical (or virtual) (area) where specific policies foster growth and employment and improve innovation, productivity and social inclusion, through the optimal use of local assets empowered by ICT’.
Source: Innovative Ecosystems: a specific roadmap, European Commission Directorate Generale, Information Society and Media, January 2006
e-Wales aims to promote and support a holistic approach to the effective exploitation of ICT across both the public and private sector in Wales.
Key to driving this forward will be developing new, and building on existing, relationships between the private and public sector in Wales.
What will the digital eco-systems approach aim to do?
* Identify what support is needed to help the public service and private sector work cohesively to create the digital ecosystem necessary to underpin a vibrant, thriving ICT sector in Wales.
* Improve and strengthen the collaboration between e-science and e-commerce
* Improve the availability and affordability of a broadband infrastructure
* Address security and confidence issues, standards and intellectual property
What is the Broadband Wales Programme?
The multi-million-pound Broadband Wales Programme was launched by the Welsh Assembly Government in July 2002 to address broadband market failure within Wales.
With the support of partners from across the public private and voluntary sectors of Wales, the programme aims to provide accessible affordable broadband across Wales by March 2007.
There is much discussion on broadband, not only within the UK but across the world and the Broadband Wales Programme is identifying best practice from around the globe to ensure a sustainable programme is rolled out across Wales.
There are 5 strands to the programme
1. Promote and improve Demand
2. Improve Supply
3. Encourage Local Initiatives
4. Specific Procurements
5. Aggregate Public Sector Demand
The programme is working in a rapidly changing market place, and is regularly reviewed to ensure that the programme maintains its focus and delivers the best broadband infrastructure possible.
Promote and improve Demand
The Wales-wide marketing initiative is designed to raise awareness amongst business and consumers of the benefits of broadband.
Our over-riding aim is to achieve a ‘step change’ in Wales with regards to the perceptions and attitudes towards broadband and subsequently to increase the uptake of broadband and encourage more effective use of the technology at home, at work and leisure.
The marketing campaign will target residents, businesses, voluntary sector and key influencers, using a range of communication tools to deliver the message.
To overcome the identified obstacles regarding broadband supply in Wales, the Broadband Wales Programme have implemented a number of initiatives to support the roll out of Broadband across Wales.
Try before you Buy
ICT Centres involved with the Try Before You Buy scheme offer free impartial advice on broadband communication technology in general. You can try out broadband 1st hand to experience the benefits that broadband can bring.
Encouraging local initiatives
The Broadband Wales Programme has recognised that communities and businesses have a substantial impact towards the roll out of broadband across Wales. This has been proven with the over-whelming success of the BT registration scheme that helped to provide DSL broadband across the country.
There are, however some areas where access to broadband is still limited or not available, and the initiatives that come under this banner are aimed at communities, citizens and SME’s that would not otherwise be able to gain access to broadband.
The Regional Innovative Broadband Support (RIBS) project has been designed to enable all areas of Wales previously deemed as broadband blackspots to have access to first-generation broadband services. The project will focus on filling the gaps where no form of comparable broadband service is currently available.
The Specific Procurement element of the Programme looks at interventions in the market to increase the availability of broadened in specific circumstances, addressing gaps in provision.
The main objective is to deliver high bandwidth connectivity - 2Mbps and above to key strategic parks and business locations throughout Wales at an affordable price.
This is currently in its consultancy stage and further information will be provided, as further developments are made.
Public Sector Aggregation
Throughout the UK, Public sector aggregation is being heralded as the way forward for providing broadband services to private and public sector alike.
In theory, by aggregating the procurement of public sector demand the investment decisions of the suppliers may be influenced and broadband would become more widely available.
In England the Government announced the creation of nine limited liability partnerships (ADITS) charged with aggregating public sector demand for broadband in England. Set up in partnership with Regional Development Authorities (RDAs) – they will be responsible for buying broadband services for public sector organisations while cutting costs for the public sector.
Scotland has also recognised public sector procurement as a catalyst to encourage suppliers to invest benefiting local communities and crucially, businesses that are based in rural areas. The Scottish Executive will work with the public sector to ensure that every school has access to a rich online world in which it will be possible to communicate with others by text, voice or video. That all parts of the health service can transfer data and use telemedicine as necessary and ensure that all local authorities can provide modern, customer focused services
Ireland is delivering similar services to Wales through their Classroom 2000 (C2K) project that will provide educational services through ICT in schools. All 1200 Northern Ireland primary, secondary and special needs school will have a broadband connection to enhance teaching and learning by the end of 2006.
In Wales there are two high-speed communications networks which have been designed to aggregate Public Sector Demand. The high bandwidth networks have been developed with three key aims in mind
1) Improve communications
2) Reduce costs by aggregating demand
3) Service the ever-changing needs of public sector bodies and their end users.
Lifelong Learning Network
The Lifelong Learning Network (LLN) is the Wales-wide high bandwidth network funded by the Welsh Assembly Government. Designed to address the aggregated broadband connectivity requirements of public sector organisations the network connects schools (primary, secondary, and special), libraries and ICT learning Centre to Broadband across Wales.
Janet is the UK education and research network that offers a high capacity backbone connecting UK education and research organisations to each other and to the rest of the world. The network connects UK universities, colleges of Higher Education & Further Higher Education, research council establishments and some local authorities and schools.