Digital Nation

Digital North Ayrshire – Exemplar Blueprint for the Role of Local Government in a 21st Century Scottish Digital Nation

North Ayrshire documents how they are building a regional digital economy strategy, spanning skills, business, education, tourism and inclusion.

North Ayrshire has published their 2023 – 2028 digital strategy, and it provides an exemplar blueprint for the role of Local Governments in an overall Scottish Digital Nation.

As they describe the Scottish Government Digital Nation Strategy is jointly owned by local and national government, and the principles form the backbone of their own strategy and will support a digital nation applicable to Government, but also to People, Place, and the Economy.

Their plan demonstrates how digital isn’t limited only to providing online government services, but rather is integral to everything the council does and essential to how successfully they do it.

Skills and People

Our workforce shows a real commitment to continuous improvement and we are recognised as a progressive, forward thinking and innovative Council. Our ambition for our people is to create a culture where innovation and excellence thrives, in a North Ayrshire that is ‘Fair for All’. It is only through our people, that we will realise this ambition.

  • Gain a better understanding of the level of digital skills within our workforce. We will plan, support and increase these skills through our digital leads within our services.
  • Encourage our colleagues to seek new, smarter ways of working using technology to improve our services.
  • Having a leadership team that embraces digital technology and leads by example.
  • Formalising our approach to how and where we work to ensure we have a more resilient and adaptable workforce.
  • Continue to use our technology effectively to support our colleagues to work remotely where necessary, which will have a positive environmental impact through less travel.
  • Reuse, recycle and procure technologies to support a greener environment.

Digital Workforce

Utilising technology and expanding our remote access infrastructure, the Council has continued to deliver essential services to our customers and our office based staff have now adopted hybrid working.

Digital Business

Support businesses to improve productivity by adopting, optimising new and resilient digital technology and investing in digital skills for the future.

  • Work with partners to support businesses to understand and adopt new digital technologies.
  • Support businesses to develop a culture and leadership that cultivates innovation, maximising the benefit of digital technologies.
  • Work with partners and support businesses to invest in digital skills for the future.
  • Support businesses to create new and additional employment to support business growth generated through digital opportunities.
  • Support businesses to understand the necessity for lawful processing of data, the economic value of their data and protect against cyber security risk.

Digital Education

We will use digital technology to build innovative and creative teaching approaches that will raise attainment across all schools and centres. Our staff will have a positive attitude towards digital and a clear understanding of how digital can be used to improve learning.

  • To develop the skills, fluency and confidence of staff, parents, and community educators in the appropriate use of digital technologies and to support the development of digital skills.
  • To provide a future focussed curriculum by improving the use of technology in learning.
  • To provide the required digital technologies which are aligned to and fully supports high quality digital learning and teaching that will lead to raised attainment.
  • To continue to gain the Digital Schools Award Scotland accreditation and embed this practice in all our education establishments.
  • To work alongside the Secondary Technicians and IT Service teams to develop systems and processes that will support the above areas of focus.

Apps used include Xpressions, a service, providing parents with an app to receive messages from the school, Satchel:one is a simple online homework calendar your child can use to keep up to date and on top of all their homework, Seesaw a platform for student / teacher engagement and enables the sharing of successes from school with home, and Glow, Scotland’s national digital learning platform.

Digital Tourism

Promote North Ayrshire as a visitor destination through digital marketing and communication.

  • To work with businesses / organisations to create a digitally accessible platform which advises what is available in North Ayrshire.
  • Develop a refresh of North Ayrshire’s tourism strategic priorities, following completion of Making Waves programme and Regional Visitor Economy Strategy.
  • Consider options to support digital infrastructure through Ayrshire Growth Deal project development.

An example of digitisation in 2022 was the creation of a digital interactive website with link to a ticket booking
platform for July 2022 Making Waves Festival.

Eglinton Country Park – Digital Case Study

At Eglinton Country Park we have embraced the use of digital technology to enhance our visitor experience:

  • Through the use of QR codes, to allow visitors to download maps at various points throughout the park, and
    to download orienteering courses and maps which can be held digitally for future use.
  • The Heritage App allows visitors to follow a trail and learn about the building heritage and history of the park.
  • The Augmented Reality App triggers leaping salmon at the fish pass.
  • By developing a digital education resource programme for 2022, schools and groups will enjoy supported learning – initial topics will include the history of Eglinton and Biodiversity.
  • ID apps – through our partnership with Southwest Scotland Environmental Information Centre (SWSEIC) we promote and deliver training sessions on I-Record and iNaturalist to support Citizen Science projects. This allows anyone to record their sightings of fungi, flora & fauna into a national recording database to monitor biodiversity at a national level and track changes

Connecting Scotland

The Connecting Scotland Programme got 60,000 digitally excluded households online at the end of 2021. North Ayrshire Council has made successful bids for devices during all programme phases to ensure our customers have digital access and support. Over 2,000 devices were provided throughout North Ayrshire.

  • Overall, 95% of all respondents have access to email or the internet 95% indicated they have access at home.
  • 66% have access via mobile phone.
  • 33% have access through work.
  • Digital is the preferred method to receive information: 46%.

Digital Inclusion

Working with partners to improve digital access and remove barriers to digital inclusion across North Ayrshire.

The Council recognises the crucial role digital will play to support a place-based approach and investments. We recognise that having access to a device or using digital services is an important part of daily living and there are clear links between social isolation, poverty and digital exclusion.

  • Developing the digital skills of our customers through training opportunities and mentoring.
  • Ensuring we have community leaders who are able to assist those who need help using digital devices and
    accessing services.
  • Promoting the many benefits of being digitally active, especially when it’s addressing issues of poverty and
  • Aligning our work with other relevant strategies where we can enhance learning and digital access.
  • Continue to invest in our public Wi-Fi and devices to support our customers to get online.
  • Providing access to employability interventions to develop digital skills for future employment.
  • Investigate ways to use digital technologies to enhance place-based investment addressing local priorities,
    support changes within communities and contribute to a vibrant and inclusive economy.

100 Chromebooks and 18 months of Wi-Fi has been allocated to young people in North Ayrshire, and a digital champion has been recruited to support young people engage with services through digital devices and channels.

Free School Meals – Digital Case Study

During the initial stages of the Covid-19 pandemic customers who were eligible for means tested free school
meals received quality food parcels delivered to their home. As the pandemic continued, we adapted our
approach to ensure community need and demand were still met.

  • In order to continue to support our customers during that period we introduced electronic vouchers for food
    which could be redeemed at a supermarket of their choice.
  • The majority of our customers were happy with this and were able to redeem the vouchers with no issues.
  • Our Customer Services Advisers were able to assist customers experiencing more difficulty, to use their smartphones to access these vouchers.
  • We were also able to give advice on low-cost unlimited data plans which enabled access to the internet for those on a low income.


Editor of On a mission to build a world leading Scottish digital nation.

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