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Republic of Ireland publishes progress update on digital strategy

Update reveals 2.3 million people in Ireland now have MyGovID accounts, and the Irish government plans to launch a new digital portal for businesses, as well as establishing an AI advisory council imminently

The government of Ireland has published a progress report on its national digital strategy, showing significant strides in embracing technology.

The strategy, which was originally launched in 2022, aims to make Ireland a global leader in government technology, focusing on a cross-government approach and strong political leadership.

The strategy has four “dimensions”, including digital transformation of business, which includes the launch of a new digital portal for business due in the next few months. The portal, which will help businesses assess their own digital needs and get advice towards next steps, is funded by an €85m digital transition fund, aiming to help companies on their digital journey.

The government is also launching an artificial intelligence (AI) advisory council in the coming weeks, which will be chaired by AI ambassador Patricia Scanlon, and will include experts from across industry, academia and civil society to advice government on AI policy and responsible use of AI.

Ireland’s minister for enterprise, trade and employment, Simon Coveney, said that progress across the digital agenda “has been significant, including in the fast-evolving area of AI”.

“AI is a powerful technology that will have huge impacts on our economy and society. We are progressing the implementation of our national AI strategy, and the government is establishing a new AI advisory council to provide independent expert advice to government on AI policy,” he said.

Another dimension covers digitisation of public services, which includes a new digital health and social care roadmap and implementation plan, which will cover digital health until 2030, and is due to be completed shortly. The aim is for all Irish citizens to have access to their digital health records by 2030.

Ireland is also making strides with its own digital ID system, MyGovID, which was first launched in 2017. The system provides citizens with a single online account for all government bodies in Ireland, using Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory. The update said there are now 2.3 million verified MyGovID accounts, and the government is on track with its target of 80% of eligible citizens using MyGovID by 2030.

It is also developing a related life events portal, which will have driving licences and birth certificates as the first two services.

Commenting on the portal, the Irish Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said: “For the citizen, we are currently developing a new Life Events digital portal, which will make it easier for people to engage with a range of public services for important life events such as registering a birth or death. Driving licenses and birth certs will be the first services available on the portal.

Digital infrastructure is also part of the strategy, including its €2.7bn national broadband plan. “We want to ensure that all businesses have the opportunity to embrace digital, which can expand their customer base and help them to cut costs.

“High-speed internet access is an important part of this; and so it’s very positive that over 200,000 homes, farms and business across rural Ireland can now connect to the fibre network under the National Broadband Plan,” the Taoiseach said, adding: “We anticipate up to another 100,000 this year. It is the biggest single investment ever in rural Ireland.”

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