“Our ultimate goal is to make everything digital, submitted at the press of a button” Jennifer Henderson

Making ownership one click away

Te Registers of Scotland is leading the digital transformation of property transactions BY WILLIAM PEAKIN

Five a.m., on a Summer day earlier this year, and Jennifer Henderson is in the post room at Meadow- bank House in Edinburgh. A physicist, Henderson was transfor- mation director at the Defence Sci-

ence and Technology Laboratory. More recently she worked on the UK’s building safety programme, in response to the Grenfell Tower fire, as deputy director at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Why then, here at this time,


opening and helping sort the ap- proximately 2,000 envelopes and parcels - containing plans, estate records, and bundles of legal documents - received daily at the headquarters of the Registers of Scotland? Te opportunity to run an

organisation, and one which is undergoing digital transforma- tion, made the job advertisement attractive. Family connections with Scotland sealed the deal. Since being appointed ‘Keeper’ - and chief executive – last April, Henderson has made a point of spending time getting to know each department. “Where they were confident

enough that I wouldn’t mess it up, they generously let me help,” she laughs. From opening the post, Henderson then followed property transactions through each stage of the process of them being registered. Without the Registers of Scotland (RoS), homes and buildings could not be bought or sold securely. Te ground on which we stand would be up for grabs. It forms part of the founda- tions of the nation’s economy. Scotland has the oldest inven-

tory of property in the world, dating back to 13th century when the first national land register was housed at Edinburgh Castle;

a claim to fame, certainly. But, with the World Bank using the efficiency of a country’s register as a key economic measure, the transition from a paper-based to digital system is vital. RoS has undergone its own, in-

ternal, digital transformation over recent years; a journey symbol- ised by its new office in Glasgow, at St. Vincent Plaza overlooking the Kingston Bridge. It is on one floor, as opposed to RoS’s previous Glasgow home which was spread across seven. Te same number of people share a space half the size, but on a recent visit it felt busy, not crowded. Te impression is of a San Francisco start-up that has suddenly become successful.

There are some rows of desks and monitors, but also many break-out areas, cubicles, meet- ing rooms, and ‘social’ spaces of varying sizes and hues. At regular intervals, ‘living walls’ add to the naturalness of the environment. Lunch at your desk is not allowed (“is discouraged”, perhaps), en- abling employees from different departments to mix in the social areas. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘my desk’; people are free to login wherever; again, to en- courage the circulation of people and ideas (there is an ‘innovation

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