Council aims to make county digital hub

12:05pm Wednesday 18th June 2014

COUNCIL chiefs are aiming to make Monmouthshire one of the UK's top areas for exploiting digital technology..

The council is launching its iCounty strategy - after the cabinet yesterday approved a policy aiming to get residents involved in its projects, decisions and strategies through the use of digital technology like apps, Cloud and expanding broadband.

iCounty has been developed by officers at the council with the help of those in the digital industry as well as young people.

People will be able to give feedback, submitting ideas and requests, using the latest technology.

The council hopes to expand local infrastructure by making available broadband for all and free council-sponsored wi-fi zones, building new cloud models for enterprise and government and promoting technology-rich learning in all schools and learning zones.

The strategy aims to promote computer science and writing computer code - the aim is to teach children how to code from a young age and will run regular events. The council will be taking part in public consultations on the moves in the next few months.

Phil Hobson, cabinet member for community development, said: "One concern or flaw is that coding is not just for children, we keep learning throughout our lives. People who can (write computer) code, will open many opportunities for their futures.

"This year apps are coming out which is going to change our high street, people will be able to pay market traders from their phone. My concern is we are not moving fast enough but at least we have a plan which is the first step."

Kellie Beirne, chief officer of enterprise, said: "This is an ambitious, aspirational technology that can be used by everyone. Our aim is to have as much conversation as we can with the community."

Peter Fox, council leader, said: "This will have massive benefits for us to engage and reach more through digital technology, it is an imperative part of our future and the future of our communities."

Cllr Dimitri Batrouni said: "I like this report, digital is where the future is. Some less rich children don't have the same access to devices. There needs to be access for all."

After the roll-out of Superfast Cymru, a Wales-wide programme of bringing super-fast fibre broadband to homes and businesses, it is believed there will still be a small scale of rural parts of Monmouthshire without adequate internet connectivity, the cabinet heard..

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