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Building trust is the responsibility of every digital stakeholder in the UK, is the clear message of a new report, ‘Trust in Personal Data’ published by the Digital Catapult, which concludes that,“building that trust will be one of the key dependencies in creating better citizen services and improving the way we all live”.

In a far reaching survey of over 4,000 consumers in Q1 of 2015, it assesses the UK’s journey to becoming a data-driven nation and in Dame Wendy Hall’s foreword she rightly states that the public not only need to “trust the organisations holding and using their data, but also to fully understand why the data is needed….and without this digital literacy we are at risk of losing out in the race towards a digital-first society”.

That data is only as useful as the insight it creates, was one of the key themes from the recent Digital 2015 conference and there was a sense in a number of the presentations that too many organisations are racing to create ever more online platforms to produce an exponential level of data without necessarily bringing a public understanding of why, what, when and how their data will be used.

Data, its use and the policies, aims and ambitions that lie behind its collection, are at the core of the work that the Corsham Institute is developing around trust and how citizens and communities can benefit from all of the data that is collected from them. The Digital Catapult survey shows that the majority of people would be happy to share their information if it was to be used to benefit society as a whole, such as in healthcare and education.

All of our interaction with the digital world today and increasingly over the coming years as the Internet of Things make ever more objects around us connected, raises both policy questions as well as many practical issues about how people can trust the way that their data is used.

Cisco for instance, discussing the Internet of Everything at Digital 2015, estimated that 50 billion ‘things’ will be connected by 2020 and by the end of next year internet traffic will reach a Zettabyte. To save you getting the calculator out, 1ZB is equal to a trillion Gigabytes or a billion Terabytes of data.

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The majority of us probably click our acceptance of various company’s data privacy policies, or acknowledge regularly updated ones, without too much pause for thought in our online haste to acquire a product or service and then experience targeted advertising that uses our own data turned back on ourselves. Nearly 80% of those surveyed for the Digital Catapult report believe their data is being used solely for an organisation’s economic gain.

At the Digital 2015 conference, it was noted that in regard to online services or email providers, that if you’re not paying for the service, then in reality, you are not actually the customer of it, but you and your information become the product itself, as your data will be used for a myriad of purposes outside of your control.

As the internet develops even further, the use of data will become an ever greater issue as people become more aware of its use and begin to query more what rights and information they are clicking away by the, all too simple, acceptance box.

With one of the aims for digital services defined in the UK Government’s White Paper on Digital Society in 21st Century Britain, that people develop into‘digital citizens’, who use IT to “engage in politics, society, discourse, government and the economy”, and as more and more national and local services are delivered online through the transformation of public services, the debate around trust will need to become the focus of much more research to ensure people are still willing to engage online with everything that is available to them.

94% of those questioned for the Digital Catapult report would like to be more in control of the data they share, how they share it and what they get for it, so there is great potential for products and services to be created to meet the need for the management of personal data.

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Through the highly connected ‘living laboratory’ that Digital Corsham will provide, the Corsham Institute will offer the ideal platform for academics and industry to conduct research programmes in this area and we will connect wide-ranging capabilities to test a broad palette of digital initiatives, app development and new technologies that could become future, essential models for our digital society, with initiatives and platforms that can be trusted and used by all citizens with real confidence that their privacy and data are protected.

Only then will the Internet of Trust become a reality.

To read the full Digital Catapult report ‘Trust in Personal Data: A UK Review’, follow this link:http://www.digitalcatapultcentre.org.uk/about/videos-and-downloads/ and to find out more about Digital 2015 the link is http://www.digital2015.co.uk/category/blog/

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June 2015 saw the public announcement by Wiltshire Council of the role that Corsham’s Mansion House will play in delivering Corsham Institute’s Digital Corsham initiative, one which goes to the heart of our mission to be the UK Centre for the Digital Society.

Digital Corsham establishes in Corsham a living laboratory for digital innovation including Public Service Transformation, community engagement and media through Corsham TV and KIK Radio, and a comprehensive hub for education and research alongside the incubation, development and promotion of local digital SMEs.

While detailed planning is now well underway by Wiltshire Council to centre Digital Corsham in this inspiring community setting at the heart of the town, as part of the Swindon & Wiltshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Strategic Economic Plan, Digital Corsham is already a multi-layered digital delivery, with a legacy of communication and cultural infrastructure going back at least 174 years this week!

On the surface, Corsham is a Wiltshire market town with a population of 11,000 residents, (though the Corsham Area Board encompasses 30,000 people), but it is also the place with the largest digital capacity in the UK.  Digital Corsham is not a concept for the future, it is already delivering and bringing together companies, institutions and organisations alongside the community in the Corsham area, in the three vital areas of connectivitycontent and activity.

Digital Corsham is already focused on Digital Infrastructure, including the work of the MOD, the Ark Data Centre Campus, Inter Route, BT, Cable and Wireless, Virgin, Cloud services through Skyscape; on Digital Enterprise through partners such as MDS Technologies and Aerian Studios and on Digital Learning with partners including Bath Spa University, Plymouth University, Pound Arts, Corsham School and the Corsham Institute Apprenticeship programme.

Corsham is the centre for ongoing Government and private investment of over £1.65bn initially in communications and more recently in a unique, private sector led, digital infrastructure;

  • where more than 2% of worlds internet traffic routes through the Corsham area every day,
  • where world leading work in IT and Digital is developed and delivered,
  • where world wide MOD communications are led from,
  • where phenomenal levels of cloud hosting and data storage are centred for UK Government and UK PLC.

However, it is also a place where this investment in connectivity has remained largely unknown, often due to the secure nature of much of the work, with the consequence that there has been little relevance to the local community and its full potential for the benefit of a wider society has yet to be realised. This is one of the roles that Digital Corsham will play.

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The foundations of Corsham’s communications infrastructure can be traced back 174 years this week, to June 30th, 1841, with the opening of the Box Tunnel and the realisation of the vision of Isambard Kingdom Brunel for an intermodal transport system; the subsequent use of the Great Western Railway for Telex and Telegraph links to the Empire; the expansion of the excavated stone mines firstly for munitions storage and then shadow factories; the Cold War emergency seat of Government; exceptional levels of guaranteed power supply; the hub of UK wide and international telephone lines and connections for both civilian and military purposes.

This historic legacy of physical and analogue communications has now been developed into unparalleled levels of digital technology, encryption, computing and storage capacity and Digital Corsham will leverage this world-class infrastructure into the public sphere in a unique way to the benefit of the town, its population, to a wider digital community and the UK’s digital economy.  Corsham’s Mansion House will become the front door to this digital empowerment of our society.

Welcoming the developments, Jane Scott, Leader of Wiltshire Council, commented;
“These are extremely exciting plans, which will put Corsham at the heart of the region’s digital skills, training, research and industry agenda, as well as providing the incubation space to offer small start-up businesses the opportunity to get on their feet in such inspirational surroundings”.

For Claire Alexander, Corsham Institute’s Chief Operating Officer, it’s time to engage with even more partners;
“As our plans for Digital Corsham evolve, it’s the right time for us to start conversations with sponsors at many levels, as well continuing to build links with advocates and ambassadors, who can be part of this unique and transformational digital project . We welcome all ideas, discussions and project outlines from potential partners and companies”. 

For more information on Digital Corsham, please visit www.digitalcorsham.com and follow on Twitter @digital_corsham.

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In February 2015, the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills issued their report ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future’, as a call to the incoming Government to seize the opportunity to secure the UK’s place as a global digital leader. The Chair of the Committee, Baroness Morgan, added; “This report is a wake-up call to whoever forms the next Government in May. Digital is everywhere, with digital skills now seen as vital life skills. It’s obvious, however, that we’re not learning the right skills to meet our future needs.”

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At the end of April, Martha Lane Fox put up online a short video, alongside a stream of her whole Richard Dimbleby Lecture, http://www.doteveryone.org.uk, thanking the over 10,200 people who have now supported DOT EVERYONE with the aim of making Britain brilliant at the internet and us the most digital nation on the planet. Her call that; ‘we’ve been going too slow, being too incremental – in skills, in infrastructure, in public services. We need to be bolder,’ echoes her drive for women to be at the heart of the technology sector.

The digital skills gap is often talked about. ‘A study carried out on behalf of O2 towards the end of 2013 found that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017’, said Matt Cynnamon of General Assembly UK in The Guardian in August 2014, ‘and if we can’t support that growth, it could result in costing the UK as much as £2bn each year’.

http://news.o2.co.uk/?press-release=three-quarters-of- a-million-digitally-skilled-workers-needed-to-power-uk- economy-by-2017

As Julie Ollerton, Managing Director of Creative Resources, wrote recently in Digital Marketing Magazine; ‘When you consider that the growth and success of every industry and sector in the UK is intrinsically linked to companies embracing digital as a vital part of their operation, the skills gap between the number of roles available (and the roles that will come online in the next five years) and the amount of trained, capable and ready people should be occupying the minds of everyone, from small agency owners to Whitehall policy makers’.

In 2013 a Capgemini Consulting report on the Digital Talent gap, cited that, ‘77% of companies consider missing digital skills as the key hurdle to their Digital Transformation, yet despite the skills shortage, only 46% of companies are investing in developing digital skills and only 4% of companies they interviewed were aligning their training efforts with their digital strategy’.

Local Skills Gap

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Swindon and Wiltshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership City Deal bid, focussing on the transition of MOD service leavers, noted that; “Jobs growth forecasts to 2020 are 5.1% for the UK; 7.2% for the South West region; and even higher at 8.9% for Swindon and Wiltshire. This equates to the creation of 30,000 new jobs requiring Level 4 plus skills in the SWLEP area, and with the replacement of staff, 83,800 jobs requiring Level 4 plus skills. The driver of growth will be a move towards larger numbers of individuals employed in more skilled and higher value-added roles in the following growth sectors – digital technologies, life sciences, advanced engineering and finance and professional services.”

To that list can be added other areas where digital will change the word, in Digital Health, Smart Living and in Public Service Transformation as well as in Digital Communities.

The bringing together of Industry, Academia, Non Government Organisations as well as Government on national and local scales to find the right ways to proactively fill this evident skills gap is an urgent and pressing need.

The Corsham Institute was formed as a not for profit making organisation to bring these partners together, to become the UK Centre for Digital Society and is already on the journey to contribute to both the debate and the delivery of digital skills. We have started to rollout our own Apprenticeship programme with our first entrants, who will work on a rolling programme supporting our digital local television channels, notably Corsham TV and develop into Creative and Digital Media specialists.

What struck us interviewing the candidates was the fantastic range of skills, positive attitudes and raw talent of those who had applied. It gave us even more positive belief in the next generation of the digital work force and added impetus to our partnership work in finding the right delivery structures to fill the overall UK digital skills gap.

 

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With Corsham TV filming overnight at the General Election count for the Chippenham constituency, streaming the result live via the Periscope app and then editing video packages that were ready to view online on Corsham TV by breakfast time, in addition to the Channel’s coverage of the Corsham Hustings and candidate videos, our digital online audience has now increased to over 10 times the number of people who engaged physically at the General Election Hustings themselves.

We’ve now been approached by a University to begin feasibility work on a research programme, so that before the next elections, local or national, we begin to study the relationship between digital engagement and voter turnout, to assess in greater depth the impact within digital communities.

Corsham TV is sponsored by Digital Corsham, a Digital Communities Programme developed by the Corsham Institute.