The Next Leap


Key Action Points

with 11 comments

The vision presented in this report has emerged from the inputs of stakeholders across the digital sector. How and when to pursue their implementation are questions for Government. The most dramatic elements of this vision are a national strategy, a transformed education system, a new government department, a converged Irish Creative Media Board, and a new role for RTE. A full list of the main action points are listed below.

  • Draft a national mission statement that expresses Ireland’s intention to re-assert itself in the digital sector
  • Establish a government department, or specialised cross-cutting unit within an existing department, that can propel the national digital strategy and guarantee a whole of government approach
  • Launch a Cabinet endorsed drive to transform the education system as a national priority
  • Speedy roll-out of a digital curriculum to provide “digital instincts” at primary and secondary level
  • Integrate business context into secondary level curriculum to emphasise the viability of a career in the digital sector
  • Introduce weighted marks at Leaving Certificate level for ICT relevant subjects
  • Commit the funding required to provide sufficient connectivity and equipment to bring Irish schools up to the OECD average, and exempt all school ICT equipment from VAT
  • Launch initiatives to harness the creativity of the public (example: roadshow on commercial opportunities)
  • Support “niche exploration” groups to investigate possible areas of national expertise
  • Convene a panel of Irish business leaders, including some of the individuals involved in the establishment of the IFSC, to consider how the Digital Hub could be strategically developed
  • Assess the feasibility of legal hub and Global Rights Clearance Centre within Digital Hub
  • Consider what tax incentives might be feasible to promote digital development
  • Investigate new approaches to create a national pool of venture capital
  • Use private sector leaders with proven successes to assess start-up applications for state funding
  • The creation of a task force comprising ComReg, Enterprise Ireland, the IDA, industry leaders, and research leaders to design a liberal radio spectrum experimentation policy
  • Renewal of the e-Government campaign, and improved digital literacy within the Civil Service
  • Establish a Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) within DCENR
  • Establish a lead unit within the proposed digital department to lead a strategic approach to Digital Media
  • Establish a single Irish Creative Media Board into which the existing cultural and media bodies could be converged
  • Re-task RTE as an incubator & developer of media content irrespective of platform
  • Investigate the feasibility of a tax exemption on digital media content producers that avails of EU derogations
  • Brand Ireland as a Green Data Centre location
  • Convene a taskforce to discuss an optimal national strategy to promote Ireland as a location for localisation services
  • Global Rights Clearance Hub: i) tax deductions could make Ireland an attractive location in which to vest intellectual property; ii) new tax treaties to minimise double taxation on foreign withholding tax; iii) lobbying to join the US Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH)
  • Establish a multi-disciplinary group convened by SEI and SFI to determine whether Ireland could be a hub of “silicon offsetting” research

Written by johnnyryan

13/12/2008 at 17:05

11 Responses

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  1. Yes to some, especially in education, and the cross-government unit, as long as staffed with mostly people from the private sector with real experience, and answering to a public-privare Board. That includes yes to e-gov push, tax, panel of “wise people”. Doubts about Digital Hub, RTE, converged Arts Bodies. Maybe on the Green bit. Localisation sounds good but cost base is a problem.

    Keep up the work anyway. I will look at the links to your blog and elsewhere, and your past book, with interest.

    As an aside, does it say something that your advanced studies had to be pursued outside the State? And that private sector funding was needed? And that in this elite Scholars group you are part of, only 2-3 others seem relevant to theme, one on CMOS, one on Web 2.0 in Finance – an area Ireland can still play well in.

    R Almatev

    18/12/2008 at 23:22

  2. Sorry, but I’m going to start by disagreeing with the first premise: these are not things to wait on government. They’re too important, and all stakeholders need to get on with addressing what they can. Of course, some can’t progress at all without government, and all will benefit from “joined-up working” but we cannot afford to wait. Frankly, the little “header” summary is a little government-heavy. In fact all fice items are public sector. Yet the digital world has always been driven heavily by the private sector, albeit yes, with public sector inputs, such as from CERN or the USA’s DoD.

    I would highlight six points:
    * the value of a cross-government unit, resident in say, Finance, and with appropriate mix of public sector staff and external people, and real authority; should probably have an exemplary “Advisory Board” of current and retired business and academic leaders, and perhaps a a”Young Advisors” team too
    * getting primary education solid and driving a well-backed second level “IT and telecoms readiness” strategy, with real investment in school infrastructure and teacher training and motivation
    * get “niche exploration” structures going
    * convene a panel of business leaders (in thought and practical experience) to look to develop a Digital IFSC concept
    * look at tax incentives
    * drive e-government

    Thanks for the opportunity to discuss, and for the report. Will look out for more commentary by others.

    And very well done on the approach, and on the copyleft circulation.

    J Doyle

    20/12/2008 at 15:45

  3. Finally got to finish my blog post on this – it’ll go up this afternoon.


    22/12/2008 at 12:33

  4. Keith

    22/12/2008 at 12:33

  5. […] most important page in Johnny’s paper (all of which is online at the link above) is the Key Action Points.  To take a few of them in […]

  6. Thanks for the response Keith – ( the full link to your post )


    22/12/2008 at 16:51

  7. Well said, this is spot-on:

    * When I studied computers in WIT in the late 1990s, I was shocked at the basics that had to be taught to business students (how to open files in Word, for example). From talking to friends still in that sector, I’m told the skill levels haven’t changed much.

    As a small employer, too right.

    * I think we need to start off by using laptops as the primary method of course and work delivery at senior cycle (4th, 5th & 6th year) in second level schools.

    Makes sense, and the business sector and suppliers could be asked for good bulk terms. Go for it.

    It’s disturbing to hear of the Tanaiste’s attitude. Even shocking, if we had not spotted the calibre already.

    Barry Jones

    22/12/2008 at 19:53

  8. Johnny,

    As requested, more detail as to why I see a small number of
    Grand Challenges as being needed. Examples are the DARPA’s
    autonomous vehicles; and the UK computing community’s ones (see e.g.
    including such themes as: Dependable, evolving software systems; Memories for life (prosthetic memories); and the Science of global ubiquitous computing. These are somewhat sectoral but note that they were advanced by the community. Rather than always looking for a benevolent government to sort out our social and even economic problems, instead we need to act ourselves. I see no contradiction between collective community action and the spirit of a Linus Torvald.

    The Grand Challenges that I would propose include the application of ubiquitous and pervasive computing, and software radio and responsive telecoms, in order to end the deaths and injuries on our roads. If an optimal solution is not fully achievable then at least there can be full understanding of the why and wherefore of every accident.

    Software engineering for the health system, and then moving on from that to a practical and also pioneering use, universally, of a semantic web underpinning and supporting all aspects of our health and medical systems. The Grand Challenge here is to have a health system that firstly works very well and secondly that is innovative and internationally pioneering.

    I am fully in agreement that our transport system, public and private, should become fully electric, because that helps the emissions problem both directly and indirectly.

    The massive downturn in construction in Ireland is temporary and can be counterposed to the daunting task facing us in coming decades as we have to largely rebuild the underground layers of all our cities (cf. flooding in Dublin and elsewhere in Ireland last August, presaging things to come). We may have to resite whole cities and not just urban areas now built on flood planes. We need to find a way to start on this work, notwithstanding the current downturn in construction.

    We should see both our sustainable energy needs and our data
    infrastructure needs as very closely – maybe even integrally –
    related, for the following reasons. Physical infrastructure includes both communications (keyword: broadband) and power (keyword for both: cabling) infrastructure. Both comms and power should be considered as two sides of essentially the same physical infrastructural components. The integral nature of the two facets goes a lot beyond physical cabling running side by side. All comms devices need power. The power distribution system itself can carry data. Self-healing and
    other autonomic network management, including ensuring security, uses a broadly similar computational basis. Adaptive, autonomic systems are also the basis, on the sides both of comms and of power distribution and delivery, for the value chain pipeline and for new markets and new business models for energy and information (use the term “services” if you wish). Those are the reasons why I see our power grid and our
    social information grid as being very close.

    Finally on digital media: through digital television and beyond, I
    would like to see everything possible done to facilitate the converging sectors of entertainment and games, education, the culture industries, and online communities of all sorts. That is another debate.


    Fionn Murtagh

    23/12/2008 at 09:26

  9. […] Ireland in the Digital Era”, recently released and available on line. My comments – see the “Next Leap” discussion area – are in relation to how we should, in a period of downturn, look towards Grand Challenges – light […]

  10. […] of the “key action points” from the report and my […]

  11. Johnny

    there is much to mull over in the report. First three points require money and resources together with someone with the vision to execute. This could be part of a proper reinvestment in the Irish Economy.

    Weighted marks for ICT subjects would not make a difference (I’m open to correction if you can tell me how they would make a difference and I will read the full report over the next few days to see if I’ve missed anything). The real problem here is how people (i.e. the society as a whole) values science and technology and depressingly the answer is not enough. The high points continue to be medicine, law etc i.e. the professions so there is a huge amount to be done here.


    13/01/2009 at 13:51

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