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GOVTECH Continued from Page 11


could do much better. I’ve worked in the ecosystem for almost 30 years and the number of founders and startup companies and the quality of the talent is probably higher than it’s been for a very long time. But what the internet does is it doesn’t just bring the world’s customers to your door, it also brings the world’s competi- tors as well, and that requires our companies to be genuinely world- class so we can compete.”


At Digital Scotland, Logan also explained the ‘market square’ concept, which he describes in depth in the review. His take was that whilst all too often the focus of policymakers is on institu- tional support, there is often an undervaluation of the social infrastructure that underpins market activity. He said it is vital that tech


meet-ups, conferences and regu- lar gatherings are well supported through the implementation of the review so that the connec- tions that spark exchange can take place. He talked about the history


of innovation and of periods of social, cultural and scientific up- heaval that were founded on such exchange, such as the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. “Leon- ardo da Vinci was not a painter, a sculptor or an engineer or a math- ematician or an anatomist, he was all of those things,” he explained. “And that made him good at everything he did because he was informed in his knowledge by all those different areas, but when he stepped out of his house into the market square in Florence he was able to interact with lots of people who were exactly the same. “And that exchange of knowl-


edge was what led to so many great discoveries and I think in our own way in Scotland during the Enlightenment we had similar conditions at play; so the social infrastructure, the market square is vital in my view to support the startup and learning and creative process.” l


The education sector and the Logan review, page 55.


to coronavirus Cloud service provider aided the switch to remote working and contact-tracing app build – and it doesn’t want to stop there


BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN


Amazon Web Services – the largest cloud provider in the world with an estimated 40 per cent market share – has been helping Scotland’s public sector through the pandemic. It has worked closely with


Social Security Scotland to sup- port a contact centre transition from its conventional base to one that was wholly online in the space of a fortnight, as 509 staff moved to remote working. Te agency, which has offices


in Glasgow and Dundee, rolled out the AWS Connect platform from existing cloud infrastruc- ture in order to sustain a range of devolved benefits during lockdown. And the technol- ogy giant has also provided the architecture upon which the Protect Scotland contact-tracing app was built. It has since been downloaded by 1.7million people across the country. But far from being seen as


just a cloud provider, the com- pany is increasingly interested in playing a wider role to sup- port innovation among its client base. As Mark Schwartz, enter- prise strategist at Amazon Web Services, said during a panel discussion on the Logan Review


12 | FUTURESCOT | WINTER 2020/21


Amazon helps deliver public sector response


at Digital Scotland: “At AWS we’re really passionate about what the cloud can do and how it can change society and change business and we love to see the things that our custom- ers are able to do when they have the power of things like the cloud and digital techniques that they can use today.” He illustrated the point by


talking about AWS’s non-profit consumers who have been leveraging the company’s considerable data and AI offer to support their work. Schwartz said that the Inter-


national Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in the US had been able to use machine-learn- ing tools to scan the ‘dark web’ for images of children who are missing, locating leads and pass- ing them to law enforcement.


And AWS has worked with the International Research Institute to apply the same technology to understand which genetic varieties of rice will grow best in a changing climate. He said: “We have what you


would call cloud innovation centres where communities can bring challenges to us and our partners, and universities. And


we’ll try to work out the best way to solve those challenges. Te potential of the cloud and all the other digital techniques that grow up around the cloud do cause fundamental and important and positive change in the world. It’s fascinating and I’m a big fan of it.” Schwartz, who appeared


virtually at Digital Scotland, said that the Logan review is a real opportunity for Scotland to improve on its fortunes in the international tech market. He said: “I think the Logan


report is fascinating in think- ing through all of the different pieces that have to be there. What I notice is that in a way it is a big macro version of what we see with a lot of enterprises themselves. “Within a single company


you’ll have a feeling of com- petition from the outside and pressure to do something; there may be new pockets of innova- tion within the organisation but leadership has the challenge of how do they use those pockets of innovation to bring about big change.” He added: “A lot of the


challenge is in removing the impediments – I’ve seen in organisations people have good ideas and I think in Scotland and throughout the world there are a lot of people with great entrepreneurial ideas. But the question is how much friction is there in trying to get a good idea implemented. “Tat’s where a lot of compa-


Mark Schwartz: “We’re really pas- sionate about what the cloud can do and how it can change society”


nies fail. What’s brilliant about the Logan review approach is that it accounts for the remov- ing of a lot of barriers for suc- cessful innovation, by having capital available, and by having trained people who can support new ideas.” l


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