Manchester City Council has revealed a 10 point plan to ensure it is one of the world’s foremost digital cities by 2020 – promoting economic growth and ensuring residents have the skills to benefit.
The ambitious plans will cement Manchester 's well established reputation in the digital world and expand on the impressive progress made since the most recent Digital Strategy published in 2008.
Despite improving Manchester's digital offer in all four of the strategy's main themes - sustaining economic growth, promoting digital inclusion, transforming public services through technology and promoting inclusivity where digital technologies are used - a more comprehensive strategy is needed, building on global examples, to develop further and retain a competitive advantage.
Manchester 's 10 point plan will drive the Council's digital priorities and move the city forward rapidly as an example of best practice on a national and international stage.
The key objectives are:
Access and connectivity
- Connected Citizens - to ensure 100 per cent fast broadband coverage and Wi-Fi in all public spaces.
- Connected Businesses - to ensure businesses have access to fast broadband and support with advice or financial assistance to best exploit it.
- Connected Manchester - deliver a more co-ordinated partnership between the public and private sector to promote digital Manchester to attract new business.
Digital Skills - to ensure digital excellence at all ages through quality digital education at all levels to support people in gaining the skills to get future jobs and promote the benefit of 'going digital'.
Social City - create a digitally embracing City Council by fully utilising digital opportunities; including social media, advanced website and further exploit mobile technologies with content, advertising and apps.
Digital Reform - encourage and enable more people to become digitally savvy and grow to be self-service customers - increasing their digital potential and helping to deliver efficiencies within the council.
- Economic Growth - stimulate the creative and digital sector by encouraging investment and increase skill development from an early age to maximise the potential of our home-grown talent.
- Digital Place - the essential link between technology, residents and the city -
from advertising and transport information to route finding - the city's physical infrastructure must be inextricably linked to digital technologies.
- Digital Investment / Resources - to exploit investment opportunities, both public and private to accelerate our digital ambition.
- Digital Leadership - to achieve a truly digital city by co-ordinating all city strategies from transport and health to education and public services and develop a joined up digital Manchester.
Greater Manchester already boasts a strong and diverse digital sector with 5 per cent of employment categorised as creative and digital with a forecast of around 40,000 new job opportunities by 2015.
However, the digital strategy looks to build on this solid platform and reach its full potential by not only guaranteeing broadband access to residents and businesses, but also encouraging the adoption of high speed services.
An important strand of this is our £12m bid to the government's Urban Broadband Fund*, which if successful will provide all residents and businesses with high speed internet, both in their premises and through Wi-Fi connections in public spaces across the city.
The strategy addresses the fact that residents without ITC skills are inhibited in their job opportunities - currently only 74 per cent of residents are broadband connected - and those businesses that do not use ITC to its full potential are inhibiting their chances of growth and future job creation.
Through improved education the strategy looks to better prepare Manchester people for a digital future - especially those in areas that currently have poor connectivity - to maximise the potential of Manchester 's skill base and take advantage of the opportunities that will arise in a world beating digital city.
A digital city requires the city council to embrace new technologies and maximise data that is openly available online to encouraging residents and businesses to access services and contact the council digitally.
Building on an already highly praised online presence, April will see the introduction of a new 'My Account' service as an addition to the popular 'My Area' - improving the online offer by offering more personalisation in a more user friendly space.
The next step is to work with partners across the city to produce a delivery plan for the strategy in order to fulfil the ambitious plans of developing a truly digital city and become a world leader by 2020.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: " Manchester is already a force on the digital world stage with the city council spearheading innovation in the digital and creative sector helping build the UK 's largest digital economy outside the capital.
"This digital strategy is essential for building on that success and ensuring that Manchester benefits from the potential of improved technologies and make sure that our residents are in the best position possible to take advantage of the jobs created as a result."