Being the ‘best in Europe’

It’s wonderful doing a talk and getting great feedback. Not just “pat on the back” feedback like this (which is nice):

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The kind of feedback when you know that people in the room have changed their thinking because of something you’ve said. (It doesn’t happen to me often!)

Yesterday was one of those days. I did a talk was at Westminster eForum’s “Broadband Britain: funding, killer apps, and digital engagement” in Whitehall. The room was packed – apparently a new Secretary of State does that. The organisers were willing to mix together a debate about digital engagement alongside one about superfast broadband and all the technical stuff that goes with that. True to form I said I’d talk about People not Pipes (you can see my blog about that from last year here

In a nutshell areas with poor “normal broadband” infrastructure have high take-up – usually rural areas where the internet is a lifeline to services and communications – and poorer communities with relative good, fast and/or standard broadband infrastructure have low take-up – due to lack of skills, low confidence, fear of failure as well as fear of privacy, and a fear of the costs of broadband. I called for action on both the pipes as well as the people – we need investment in both broadband infrastructure and in support networks so that everyone is skilled to use it. If we work on both elements we can be the “best in Europe” and we will really drive economic growth.

The audience yesterday understood that £1bn public investment in a broadband infrastructure without a close link to an investment in the support networks was quite bizarre. And Julian Smith MP who was chairing the event said he would raise this with Maria Miller as a priority. I’ll keep you posted.

My slides as always are on Slideshare.

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