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No One Left Behind Digital Scotland: COVID-19 Emergency

Scottish Government – A call to arms. We must mobilise now to find, equip, train and support everyone in the country who lacks access to digital services.

The Problem

Digital connectivity will quickly become a lifeline for our most vulnerable people in the COVID-19 emergency. However in the most vulnerable populations we have many people who do not have:

  • access to an internet enabled device and / or broadband or 4/5G
  • the ability to use them even if they do have them (significant numbers will be unable to use them or they will be sitting in a cupboard)
  • the ability to pay for access to the internet, maintain devices when they break etc.
  • some of those households also lack other vital services – a landline, a television.

So – we need an emergency national aid effort to mobilise immediately to:

  • Find them – coordinate across NHS, Local Authorities, Third Sector etc. to identify those people
  • Get devices to them – important here will be to learn from the lessons of international emergency. Lots of well-meaning attempts to get donations of old kit etc.  and circulate creates more problems than it solves. We need a single device type, new not secondhand.
  • Get broadband or mobile internet access to them (ideally both for fail safe reasons) – free for 6 months
  • Provide a national team of trainers and digital buddies to get people started with using the device and getting online.
  • Create an ongoing support service to cope with issues with devices and ongoing training needs.

Each day that goes by will make doing this ever harder. We must start now. If we do not seize the opportunity to coordinate and do this in a large scale coordinated fashion once for Scotland we will waste time and money and energy. We will fail to reach people. We will fail them.

If we do this right it could galvanise, coordinate and focus the energy in the country to help.

We believe this will be one of the single biggest steps we could take to mitigate the harms that could be visited on our most vulnerable people in coming months. Digital will become a lifeline and our most vulnerable will need it most. We must be confident that everyone has the devices and the access and the support they need.

Now, more than ever, no one should be left behind in our Digital Scotland.

The Ask

Join this effort to mobilise a national digital emergency response team to within a matter of weeks find, equip, train and support households who currently lack access to the internet at home (not broadband or mobile access and / or device in the home) due to poverty and who is in one of the most vulnerable population groups.

Scottish Government, ScotlandIS, SCVO, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, Glasgow Disability Alliance and many others are already working to get this moving.

We are working rapidly to understand who is not currently online, why and where they are. 15000 – 20000 are in the most vulnerable group (living in poverty and in the vulnerable group for COVID-19)

We are mobilising teams to:

  • Team 1 – Find the people who need to be brought online, maintain database
  • Team 2 – Define what they need (device and training requirements) and develop training for citizens.
  • Team 3 – Source device and broadband and / or device access.
  • Team 4 – Set up distribution to local hubs and from there to households.
  • Team 5 – Coordinate trainers and develop and deliver training the trainers.
  • Team 6 – Develop and maintain ongoing tech support
  • Team 7 – Develop and maintain ongoing people support (digital buddies etc)
  • Team 8 – Overall project coordination and comms

If you think you can help email Karen Meechan, COO of ScotlandIS on – in the subject line include Team you think your company can help with and in the body of the email please detail your offer of help and an immediate contact number.

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