Why Jersey needs to become a Smart Island

Posted: 28/02/2024

The Digital Future and the part it will play in all of our lives.

In a speech to the Jersey Chamber of Commerce Lunch last week, Tony Moretta, CEO of Digital Jersey, emphasised the urgent need for Jersey to embrace its potential as a smart island.

Why Become a Smart Island?

  • Economic Growth and Sustainability: By leveraging data and technology, we can foster innovation, attract new businesses, and revitalise existing sectors, propelling Jersey’s economy forward.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: Informed decision-making across various sectors – from infrastructure development to healthcare – becomes the norm, leading to improved efficiency and better outcomes.
  • Enhanced Efficiency and Resource Management: Smart solutions can optimise resource utilisation, leading to cost savings and a more sustainable future for Jersey.
  • Citizen Engagement and Well-being: Technology can streamline processes, improve access to services, and enhance the overall quality of life for residents.

However, the journey for Jersey to become a Smart Island involves overcoming some challenges, these include:

  • Data silos and lack of comprehensive data collection.
  • Limited investment in digital skills development.
  • Hesitation to adopt new technologies and embrace cultural change.

The journey towards becoming a smart island requires breaking down silos and using technology not as an end but as a means to unite and uplift the island’s way of life.

What is a Smart Island?

In 2022, IDC (one of the world’s leading market intelligence agencies) released a really good briefing on smart islands. It defined a smart island as one that harnessed technology and data to drive better social, environmental, and economic outcomes for citizens, businesses, and visitors.

The IDC briefing outlined six guiding principles for creating a smart and sustainable island strategy, include:

  1. Leadership, vision and user focus
  2. Organisation and governance
  3. Skills and technological foundations
  4. Partner ecosystem
  5. Measuring impact
  6. Funding

We could be a real exemplar of what a smart island looks like, with our head start, and if we used all our advantages. At our Annual Review you would have heard a Director from Google tell everyone that “Jersey is a great ecosystem for innovation” because we have all the elements of a large country but much more accessible.

So what would our being a smart island look and feel like?

For a smart island, we envision a place where data drives decision-making and public communication. Imagine selecting a hospital site not on anecdotes but clear data.

Despite global examples like Estonia, our digital evolution has been slow. We still gather census data every 10 years, have low voter engagement without sufficient online electoral roll. Our health data connectivity is lagging, and the Digital Health strategy remains largely unexecuted.

As Government can’t always see citizen data in a joined up way. We’re finding out the hard way what happens when we don’t connect our data to an increasingly digital world, for example when we can’t get credit cards as credit reference agencies can’t access electoral data or our postcodes don’t work in Apple or Google Maps.

The Covid pandemic was a testament to what we can achieve when technology and data are put to good use. From educating our children remotely to managing border controls via digital platforms, we demonstrated exceptional adaptability and innovation. It’s this same spirit that we need to harness as we continue on our path to becoming a smart island.

What are we going to do in the coming months to really get going on our smart island journey?

If you’d been at our Annual Review, you’d have also heard a partner in the law firm Pinsent Masons, their lead on Smart Cities, say that to create a genuinely smart place you needed 3 components:

  1. A Digital Twin
  2. A Data Trust
  3. A Data Platform & Exchange

We have a Digital Twin – quite a decent one, built and managed by specialists in Norway, containing Government data, co-funded by JT, Sure, SoJDC & Ports and operated by Digital Jersey.

We also have a Data Trust. We’ve set one up already in Lifecycle, using cycling data to plan safer cycling infrastructure.

So we’ve got 1 & 2. What about 3?

We intend to work with local and off-island partners, including the likes of Google, to build a Jersey Data Exchange. We are aiming at a pioneering approach to the collection, sharing, and utilisation of data across Jersey, aiming to unlock unprecedented opportunities for data-driven decision-making and innovation.

We will build an ecosystem that will bring together the three critical elements: an advanced data exchange platform, a robust legal structure, and a suite of data visualisation tools to provide users with insights and information previously inaccessible.

We strongly believe that the Jersey Data Exchange Ecosystem, given the right support, will transform the island’s data landscape by:

  • Unlocking new revenue streams for data providers through secure and trusted data sharing.
  • Enabling access to a rich pool of data for innovators and decision-makers, thereby driving economic growth and societal development.
  • Fostering transparency and collaboration among stakeholders through responsible data sharing practices.
  • Catalysing data-driven innovation and enhancing public services through improved decision- making capabilities.

Established and operated by Digital Jersey, with our proven expertise and trusted by both industry and government, this ecosystem I hope will be an enabler of digital transformation for the whole island. By inviting participation from all stakeholders, the Jersey Data Exchange Ecosystem is set to build a stronger, more connected, and innovative Jersey. With its strategic framework and forward-looking vision, it will be a significant leap towards realising the full potential of Jersey’s data assets for the benefit of all.

Watch our CEO Tony Moretta talk about Jersey as a smart island at the Jersey Chamber of Commerce lunch below.

Share this