Sara Budge, Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband Programme Director

Written by Alan Robertson on 3 February 2016 in Feature

Connect is running through our Tech 100, profiling the key figures driving the digital agenda in Scotland

Sara Budge (@ScotSuperfast/@sarabudge_DSSB)

Job Title/Organisation: Programme Director of Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband

What does your role involve?

My role is multi-faceted from leadership to operational excellence. I head up the programme that is deploying fibre broadband to areas that aren’t commercially covered. The programme’s main aim is that Scotland has 95 per cent fibre broadband coverage by March 2018. We are also then encouraging people to take up the service once it has arrived in their area.

What do you consider to be the most imminent challenge in your line of work?

I think the biggest challenge we have is managing people’s expectation in terms of pace of deployment. On average, a further 7,000 homes and business can connect to fibre broadband each week. But behind that there is a huge amount of planning as well as physical work – from the initial planning stages to an area going live and accepting orders can take over a year and this happens across all Scotland’s local authority areas simultaneously.

We use the words ‘ scale and complexity ‘ often , which is hardly a surprise as one of the largest infrastructure programmes of its kind in Europe.

What has been the most rewarding piece of work you've undertaken?

I’m doing it just now! It’s so rewarding when I see our coverage expand and areas that previously got slow speeds receive fibre broadband thanks to the programme. 

How can Scotland bridge the digital skills gap?

I think that we need to expand on our multi-faceted approach, ensuring people young and old have the necessary skills (for school, business and delivery of public and health care services). It’s also making sure that Scotland has the necessary technology in place, such as having fibre broadband available. When you join these two aspects together then we are on the right path.

Which new technology excites you the most?

Any technology that is truly transformational – it’s the application and outcome that count

What's your favourite app and why?

I think my favourite app is probably Moovit. I frequently travel from home in Aberdeen to Glasgow and the central belt and the app lets me know how the trains are behaving.

What, for you, will 2016 be the year of from a technology/digital standpoint?

For me 2016 is about getting our programme into more remote areas across Scotland, many of these will receive fibre for the very first time. It’s also about seeing real targeted campaigns launch and succeed, such as one we have just launched in Glasgow encouraging residents and business to sign up with a service provider.

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