Ireland’s National Digital Strategy sets ambitious new targets for 2030

1 Feb 2022

Image: © Inna/Stock.adobe.com

The Digital Ireland Framework sets targets in digital education, broadband coverage, digital services, business and the enforcement of EU regulations.

The Irish Government has published its new National Digital Strategy, with a list of ambitious new targets for 2030, including bringing 5G to populated areas.

Under the new strategy, the Government aims to make “connectivity available to everyone” through the National Broadband Plan, remote working hubs and broadband connection points.

Future Human

As well as having all populated areas covered by 5G by 2030, the Government also plans to have all Irish households and businesses covered by a gigabit network no later than 2028.

The strategy, called the Digital Ireland Framework, consists of four key components, which are in line with the EU’s targets of digital transformation by 2030.

These four areas are the digital transformation of business, an improvement to digital skills, development of digital infrastructure and the digitisation of public services.

Speaking at the launch of the new strategy, An Taoiseach Michéal Martin, TD, said: “The pandemic changed many aspects of our lives, not least through our use of the internet, in working remotely, learning and shopping online, or accessing digital public services.

“Our new digital strategy aims to maximise the potential of online to increase the wellbeing of Irish people and our small businesses,” Martin added.

To improve skills, Ireland aims to increase the share of adults with basic digital skills to 80pc by 2030, by improving digital education in school, higher education and lifelong learning. It also looks to have more than 12,400 graduates with higher-level digital skills by the end of this year.

Commenting on the announcement, data protection commissioner Helen Dixon said: “In order to ensure effective regulation, regulators need to ensure that we can hire people with the ability and flexibility to rise to the challenge. We welcome the Government’s support to ensure that we attract and retain the talent necessary for this change.”

The strategy has set out a commitment for 90pc of public services to be consumed online by 2030, to ensure widespread access and inclusivity.

Cybersecurity issues will also be addressed under the new strategy, with plans to increase resources for Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre, along with a review to the Government’s current cybersecurity strategy planned for this year.

Digital business targets

The Digital Ireland Framework also sets ambitious targets to digitise Irish businesses through grants and assistance. The Government aims for 90pc of SMEs to have basic digital intensity by 2030 and 75pc of enterprises to have a take-up in cloud, AI and big data.

Business group Ibec has welcomed Ireland’s new National Digital Strategy, stating that it’s an important step in ensuring Ireland is at the forefront of a more sustainable, digital decade.

“EU research shows that gaps and divides exist in our relative readiness to access and adopt existing and emerging digitally enabled opportunities,” Ibec’s head of digital economy policy Erik O’Donovan said. “We need this new framework and related action plans to engage businesses and citizens in responding to these challenges and opportunities.

Implement EU measures

The plan also references the importance of well-resourced regulatory frameworks, such as the recently approved Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill, designed to regulate online services and reduce the availability of harmful content.

The published strategy also sets a commitment to respond to and implement new EU regulations as they emerge.

Under the new digital strategy, Ireland will nominate a regulator to act as Ireland’s digital services co-ordinator under the EU’s recently approved Digital Services Act. This is Europe’s attempt to shift the balance of power from the hands of Big Tech and into the hands of EU residents.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic

editorial@siliconrepublic.com