The digital economy is a hot topic amongst businesses, organizations and governments. But it is also facing a lot of issues, three of which seem challenging. At least this the conclusion you may arrive at if you were at the series of panels at the annual Parliament and Internet conference, hosted by the Parliamentary Internet, Communications and Technology Forum (Pictfor) in the UK, ComputerWeekly reports.

The shadow digital economy minister Chi Onwurah said the current government was failing to grasp the opportunities around the digital economy, especially in the use of big data and the internet of things (IoT) to improve productivity. She pointed out three specific issues that are the most daunting and challenging for the digital economy in its’ current state: digital exclusion, the IoT and the data privacy and security.

What is digital exclusion? It means people who need to access online services, but don’t have that opportunity for whatever reason. There are more and more services, even from governments, which are accessible only online, but not all people have a web connection and as a result not only are not able to use the services but in some cases actually get sanctioned for not registering and lose on benefits and support. As a result this needs to be taken into consideration and social services shouldn not only be available via the web.

Next up is the skillset. It is the most common issue for the digital economy around the globe. “We need better skills, and we need more emphasis on the skills of our public servants and the third sector,” says Onwurah. “They are the front line of the digital interface with the public.” The governments need to improve the digital skills of their employees first and then seek to run initiatives that improve the skillset available to the business.

The security continues to be a big issue. A lot needs to be done. From basic things like clarifying simple questions about what data is collected online, how is it stored, for how long, what it is used for. Then comes the question of securing this data. Currently the security industry is dividing between different opinions like using secure cloud or giving people back control over the data, even storing it on their own devices and accessing it only when needed. People should be owners of their own data instead of giving it away to providers as they do now.

Then the IoT comes to mind. It is predicted to be a huge industry earning billions per year and producing billions of devices, sensors and add thousands of jobs. A lot hangs on the future of IoT, but the thing is, the industry doesn’t really know what IoT is exactly and how it will pan out. Of course, this is not a big problem, most things have to be tried and done before you know how they will pan out. The thing is that in this case, IoT may and probably will come with lots of different ideas, standards, regulations and etc. These are issues that will have to be solved quickly and efficiently in order to provide the much needed room for fast growth that the IoT and the digital economy needs.

Image credit: Flickr (CC) / hackNY.org

 

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