The following is a post by the Foreign Office’s Digital Transition Leader, Adam Bye.
Digital already plays a key part in Foreign Office work. The Foreign Secretary and other Ministers actively engage on Twitter and Facebook, building awareness of key foreign policy issues and answering questions.
The Foreign Office keeps British nationals informed of essential travel advice updates and crisis information across all its digital channels – monitoring those channels, especially in crisis situations, and responding to major queries.
Ambassadors use social media to explain their work, to extend UK influence and to set the record straight when necessary. The FCO uses digital channels to help reinforce the objectives of major conferences, events and visits, for example carrying out extensive engagement with the Somali Diaspora in the run-up to this year’s Somalia conference.
The Foreign Office has moved its human rights reporting online, allowing us to move to more frequent reporting and to invite comments from the public. The FCO funds projects to promote internet freedom. And last year we hosted a major conference to push forward international work on the future of cyberspace.
But we want to go further.
The Foreign Office, like all UK government departments, is working up a Digital Strategy that we will publish in December this year alongside a UK Government Digital Strategy, looking at how we can use digital to work more effectively and deliver more effectively for UK citizens.
There are three key areas we will start by looking at as we formulate that strategy.
- service delivery – how can digital further improve the services we deliver to British citizens around the world. What services – and what elements of services – can we provide digitally, both to improve services and so we can focus on those most in need of individual help – for example British nationals in trouble.
- digital diplomacy – how can we use digital even more to enhance other core areas of our diplomatic work, including monitoring international developments, increasing our influence, more openly formulating policy, and better communicating that policy.
- making the change – what skills, technology and other changes will we need to enable this more digital way of working.
We’ll be formulating and writing the strategy over the coming weeks. Recognising the extensive expertise on these issues around the world, please do comment if you have thoughts or suggestions you think would help us in that process.
We’ll read every suggestion and comment on some of those that most inspire us.