Fourth Industrial Revolution

Glasgow is transforming itself into a digitally inclusive city: Here’s how

Digital signals flying over highway. Digital transformation. Internet of Things. Glasgow's digital inclusion.

Glasgow is taking a bold step forward in its digital transformation journey. Image: WEF/iStockphoto

Vidhi Bhatia
Communications Specialist, Digital Inclusion, World Economic Forum Geneva
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  • Glasgow’s digital inclusion initiative aims to bridge gap between those who have access to technology and the internet, and those who don't.
  • Under its second digital strategy, Glasgow has witnessed significant growth and diversity in its tech sector, fostering innovation.
  • Standout achievements include the Connected Learning Programme and Glasgow's dedicated Telecoms Unit.

The modern era demands more than just access to technology; it requires the skills and knowledge to utilize these tools effectively. Glasgow, known for its impressive technological achievements and smart city initiatives, is taking a bold step forward in its digital transformation journey. The city's digital inclusion initiative aims to bridge the gap between those who have access to technology and the internet, and those who don't.

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Glasgow's digital transformation journey began in 2013 when it secured funding to become a “future city demonstrator”. This investment acted as a catalyst, laying the foundations for the city's impressive journey. Over the years, Glasgow's approach has matured, becoming more holistic and encompassing elements such as the economy, inclusion, skills and connectivity.

Harnessing the power of data

Under its second digital strategy, Glasgow has achieved remarkable success. The city has witnessed significant growth and diversity in its technology sector, fostering innovation and creating ample opportunities. One standout achievement is the Connected Learning Programme, empowering over 60,000 school children with iPads and nurturing digital competencies and creativity among the youth. Glasgow's dedicated Telecoms Unit has also revolutionized engagement with the telecommunications sector, inspiring other cities to embrace similar approaches.

Glasgow has harnessed the power of data to address strategic priorities and drive positive changes. Collaborating with the University of Glasgow, the city's data team has utilized object detection technology to gather valuable insights on footfall, dwell time, and walking/cycling patterns. Data-driven projects have also enabled the city to understand the needs of vulnerable families better and effectively support those experiencing child poverty. By automating support systems, Glasgow aims to tackle poverty head-on and improve outcomes for its citizens.

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Aligned with the Alliance

Glasgow's digital inclusion efforts are also in alignment with the goals of The EDISON Alliance, a global initiative launched by the World Economic Forum in 2021. The Alliance aims to positively impact 1 billion lives by 2025 through the collaboration and expertise of leaders from the public and private sectors.

The EDISON Alliance members, spread across 90 countries globally, are operating 250 initiatives on the ground, including initiatives similar to Glasgow, such as the 5G Smart School Initiative run by Qualcomm Wireless Reach, WeSchool and Telecom Italia (TIM); Giga, a global UNICEF-ITU initiative to connect every school to the internet to enable every young person to access information, opportunity and choices; the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools programme that provides free technology, internet access and innovative, technology-infused learning programmes to transform the learning experience; and many more.

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As per the Impact Report published by The EDISON Alliance in January, some 2.7 billion people still remain unconnected to the internet. The efforts made towards digital inclusion by cities such as Glasgow and The EDISON Alliance are crucial to ensure the availability of better life services to one and all, especially concerning health, education and finance.

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