The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has created the role of Director General for Digital and Media, and chosen Matthew Gould as the first to fill the position.
The role’s brief includes improving connectivity in the UK, ensuring companies have access to technology, increasing tech literacy and promoting innovation and cyber-security online.
Former British diplomat Matthew Gould was previously the UK ambassador to Israel, where he set up the UK Israel tech hub. As Director of Cyber Security and Information Assurance (the Cabinet Offices’s cyber security unit), Gould oversaw the National Cyber Security Programme and helped to develop the Cyber Essentials Scheme – a company security certification system.
Discussing his appointment, the new Director General for Digital and Media stated ‘Our economy is powered by innovation and we want Britain to be the safest place to do business and go online. But if we want the UK to prosper we need to make sure we have world-class connectivity, and If we want an inclusive society, we need to tackle digital exclusion and make sure everyone has the digital skills they need.
“I’m determined to tackle these challenges to help make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a digital company. It is a huge privilege to be the Government’s first Director General for Digital and Media and to have the chance to help make this happen.’
The new role and its focus on ensuring access to technology and connectivity further highlights the government’s drive to improve coverage in the UK. So far this drive has included promising 95% UK coverage by the end of 2017, changing the Electronic Communications Code to favour operators and a failed Mobile Infrastructure Project which aimed to build new masts. For the government, increasing connectivity is important on two fronts, the first is improving UK productivity per capita which has been stubbornly sluggish for a long time. The second is to open up investment in areas of the country which haven’t seen the benefits of the UK’s move from a industrial to a service based economy through making business easier in rural locations.
In this role Gould will have face the challenge of growing the UK’s infrastructure and digital awareness despite a stagnation of revenue for many of the key parties involved, such as networks, MVNOs, BT and manufacturers. With the government unwilling to pick up the tab for investing in infrastructure (with the notable excpetion of the Emergency Services Network contract), the question Gould will be asking himself will be “with such grand goals, who’s going to pick up the tab?”