Ireland’s National Digital Strategy: A welcome step towards greater digital inclusion
How Cisco is supporting Ireland’s digital transition
National Digital Strategy
As Managing Director of Cisco Ireland, I welcome the recently published National Digital Strategy, a timely and important agenda-setting document which positions Ireland well to contribute to the EU goal of making this Europe’s ‘Digital Decade’.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of digitisation as a key public policy objective worldwide. Ireland is no exception. However, if Ireland’s transition to a more digitised economy and society is to be as successful as it can be, it must demonstrate inclusivity. In particular I welcome the level of ambition in the Strategy, its stated objective of digital leadership, and the Government’s recognition of the positive role that technology plays in Ireland.
At Cisco we recognise the value of incorporating the four points of the European Commission’s Digital Compass as basis for Ireland’s new Strategy. Indeed, we’re already supporting Ireland’s digital transition across these four points, through our work on digital skills, secure and sustainable IT infrastructure, the digital transformation of businesses and the digitisation of public services.
For this next phase of Ireland’s digital development under the new National Digital Strategy, we will be looking for ways to further engage in and support Ireland’s digital transition.
Cisco as a partner in the digital transition
At Cisco we recognise that digitisation at the national level presents a chance to improve economies, governments, and people’s lives. As such, we have been at the forefront in the drive for enhanced digital inclusion both in Ireland and internationally, drawing on our well-established Cisco Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme, support for development of digital hubs and our work to enhance digital skills adoption in Ireland.
Driving digital skills
Digital skills represent the next step in ensuring that Ireland’s population is best equipped when it comes to the digital transition. Cisco’s Networking Academy (‘NetAcad’) is a not-for-profit education programme, launched in 1997 to address global digital skills gaps. Since then, academies have trained more than 9.2 million students so far in digital skills, across 180 countries. Courses are designed to generate interest in technology and help participants develop vital skills with training delivered through either instructor-led or self-paced online courses. In Ireland, we currently have 28 academies, through which we have helped to train over 23,000 students to date.
In 2021, we were delighted to launch a joint Cisco and IBM Ireland White Paper entitled ‘Accelerating Digital Skills Adoption in Ireland’ with Minister of State at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Niall Collins. The paper highlighted the value of digital skills and provided a framework for their enhanced adoption across Ireland.
Through Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration programme, we have partnered with the Western Development Commission to help develop a number of digital projects with hubs across the west of Ireland, complementing the Government’s desire to develop rural connectivity.
Digital hubs present a plethora of potential use cases, such as remote working, carbon reduction and shorter commutes, secure access, learning environments, e-health access and spaces for arts and culture. In line with ‘Our Rural Future’, the Government’s rural development strategy, we see the need for digital hubs to provide regional communities with a method to harness the latest digital technologies and foster digital inclusion.
Supporting the Irish economy as it digitises
Webex, Cisco’s secure videoconferencing and collaborative application, further demonstrated its utility following the onset of COVID-19. Webex provides schools, hospitals, Government, financial services providers, sports streaming services, charities and SMEs with secure, reliable systems to maintain connections and further productivity.
For instance, we collaborated with the Galway Simon Community to introduce Webex to their IT systems, which has since enabled them to coordinate communication between their housing, health and wellbeing services in their bid to tackle homelessness.
Embedding digital solutions into the Irish public service
At Cisco we are committed to the development and implementation of digital solutions to enhance public policy outcomes for the Irish Government. The Future Tech Challenge, organised by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform as well as IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, was supported by Cisco Ireland. The challenge pitched Irish public bodies against one another to develop digital solutions to public policy issues. Cisco collaborated with projects in the remote connectivity category, with projects aiming to enhance digital health outcomes, medicine delivery and workplace relations.
A digital Ireland
In essence, the National Digital Strategy presents Ireland with a timely roadmap towards its digital future. Cisco supports Ireland’s digital objectives, and underline that digital transformation needs to be inclusive, enhance regional development, benefit Irish enterprise and underpin Irish public service provision. We look forward to working with the Irish Government on delivery of the National Digital Strategy and to putting inclusivity at the heart of Ireland’s digital transition.