Through a collaborative partnership with CJ Founds Associates, the Digital Adoption Strategy has been created to provide a framework to enable the Berkshire Local Authorities to harness the power of technology to foster sustainable economic growth, improve public services, and enhance the overall quality of life for its inhabitants. Read our interview with Lynne Wilson — the Programme Manager—to learn more.
1/ Please tell us more about the Digital Adoption Strategy for Berkshire
Often, when people think of digital infrastructure, they think of 5G and broadband. We wanted to find a way to translate this into use cases and benefits, for businesses, residents and local authorities. We plan to educate on what digital can do and bring.
The strategy was crafted by CJ Founds Associates and the Digital Infrastructure Group, which consists of the six Berkshire local authorities: Bracknell Forest, Reading, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Slough, West Berkshire, and Wokingham Councils (the DIG partner authorities), working alongside the Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (the LEP).
The DIG group has been working collaboratively since 2014 under a formal agreement and governance structure, which includes our Mini-DIGs (further information on these, including our TOR can be found on our website).
2/ Why is it significant?
The strategy has 12 key actions, looking at governance, communication and so on to inform understanding of the opportunities for upskilling and upscaling. It’s the first of its kind in the UK! Taking ultrafast broadband, for instance, we want to help people understand how this benefits them, whether as a resident, business or local authority. Our approach will highlight use cases to show what technology can do at a practical level.
By addressing the digital divide, promoting digital literacy, supporting local businesses, investing in smart infrastructure, developing a skilled workforce, and fostering innovation, Berkshire is set to thrive in the digital age.
3/ What have you learned so far?
By championing digital practices and approaches at every opportunity we can ensure better connection and service delivery for all residents and businesses.
The introduction of the Digital Adoption Strategy helps solidify the collaborative efforts of the six local authorities in Berkshire and has immense promise for shaping a prosperous and sustainable future for the region. In an era marked by complex challenges, ranging from economic development and infrastructure enhancement to environmental conservation and public services improvement, a united front can be a catalyst for transformative change.
We have also created a Market Engagement Group that works closely with the industry to keep Berkshire at the forefront of investment and development. This has also been significant in breaking down the barriers of silo working, not just in the individual Local Authorities, but between them as well.
4/ What are the next steps?
We now need to embed the strategy into the Local Authorities and deliver the actions for it to help unlock opportunities for all.
These will help us to provide universal access to high-speed internet, promote digital literacy, support local businesses, invest in smart infrastructure, develop a skilled workforce, and nurture an innovation ecosystem, Berkshire is positioning itself for a prosperous and sustainable future and we, hopefully, will achieve this by delivering the actions set out in the strategy.
5/ What is the one thing you’d like people to know about the Digital Adoption Strategy for Berkshire?
Without a strategy in place, we won’t be able to maximise the benefits digital can bring. Berkshire is setting an example of how strategic planning and investment can unlock prosperity and ensure a bright future for all.