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Up to speed: The digital accelerator programme revolutionising the public sector. Page 2

Streaming by the river: How city-wide wi-fi will boost flexible working in Perth . Page 3

Glasgow set to be tech’s ‘living lab’ BY WILLIAM PEAKIN

Technologies that support futuristic ap- plications, such as surgeons performing operations remotely, could be developed in a ‘living lab’ as part of the University of Glasgow’s £1bn expansion of its historic campus. The university is bidding to lead Brit-

ain’s second 5G technology demonstrator. Earlier this year, the UK Government awarded £16m to researchers at King’s College London and the Universities of Surrey and Bristol, to develop the first test network . 5G is expected to deliver reliable, ultra-

fast mobile connectivity with the ability to process huge amounts of data and support

complex applications, such as communi- cation between autonomous vehicles, 3D virtual reality on phones, robotics, and re- mote surgery. The Government estimates that the technology could add £173bn to the UK economy by 2030. “These applications require ultra-low

latency to work,” said Muhammad Imran, professor of communications systems in the university’s School of Engineering, “reducing as far as possible the time it takes for a packet of data to travel between devices. “But they will also raise our aspirations

about the technology’s possibilities, such as in the ‘Internet of Skills’. For example, a surgeon operating remotely would receive haptic tactile feedback – the sensation of

Nation’s success in digital has to be international


Supporting young people to prepare for their future must be done in the context of the disruption that digital is bringing to public services and businesses, according to Colin Cook, digital director at the Scot- tish Government. “It is a self-evident truth that if Scotland

is going to be successful, it will be in a world that has changed, that is digital, and that the solutions that have enabled us to be successful in the past are not going to be the same as those in the future,” he said. Cook was speaking at the Edinburgh

event of the Digital Cities series hosted by FutureScot in association with The Sunday Times Scotland. “The core plans of the Government –

growing the economy in an inclusive way, reforming our public services, tackling inequalities, preparing children for their future in life and work – all have to be talked about within the concept of digital. “The disruption digital brings to

services that support them and the op- portunities that this disruption creates. This is both in terms of the immediate transformation it brings to government services and to different industries, but also increasingly the way in which society operates and the kind of work that we can expect to have as we look forward.” Cook said Scotland had built strong

foundations on which to excel; provid- ing access to fibre broadband for 95% of premises, with a target of 100% by 2021, the highest level of basic digital skills of the four nations of the United Kingdom, transforming public services, stimulating economic growth, and fostering partner- ships between the wider public sector, digital businesses and the enterprise agencies. “This not a cause for complacency, but

we have the basis on which we can push forward and be successful,” he said. “Scot- land has some unique strengths in areas such as data, health and social care, and sensors. And I think it is the job of govern- ment to identify those strengths, invest

in them and make sure we have the skills and infrastructure to support them.” As well supporting Scotland’s digital

technologies sector, said Cook, the Gov- ernment’s job was also to support wider industry to become “digitally mature and internationally competitive”, to create digital public services “around the needs of their users and to make the public sector more efficient”, and to create the conditions in which non-personal data is shared and used by people, businesses and organisations “as a source of innova- tion and efficiency”. There is still work to be done, he said,

on key areas of infrastructure, skills, inclusion and safety. This will focus on providing high quality connectivity across the whole of Scotland, on the country’s education and training systems expand- ing its pool of digital skills and capabili- ties, tackling the current gender gap in digital skills and careers, enabling every- body to share in the social, economic and democratic opportunities of digital, and on ensuring Scotland is a cyber-resilient and secure nation. The opportunities, said Cook, lay in

creating government organisations, such as those coming with the new powers afforded to Scotland, based on digital business models, and in being the most connected nation possible. “Scotland’s success in digital must be

in an international market. So, not just encouraging businesses to solve some of our great public sector challenges, but also supporting them to develop as inter- nationally successful businesses. “And there is a real opportunity in part-

nerships with industry, not the old model of outsourcing, but in new and vibrant ways of partnering and co-producing solutions. “Digital is at the heart of the Govern-

ment’s thinking. Our digital strategy doesn’t have all the answers and it does pose some questions. “Ministers and people like me that

support them are out constantly talking with organisations, the third sector, and with businesses, about what is needed. It is a genuine attempt to co-produce the answers in a digital world.”

The former President with company co- founder Sandra Richter

Aberdeen is to install ‘smart benches’ in three city loca- tions as part of a plan to provide citizens with mobile and laptop charging points, and monitor the environ- ment, writes William Peakin. The solar-powered benches, made by a spin-out from

the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), can charge electronic devices and collect data on footfall and air quality. They hit the headlines in 2014 when President Obama was photographed speaking to company co- founder Sandra Richter at a White House ‘Maker Faire’. The initiative to install the benches came from City-

Lab, a student innovation programme founded by Ab- erdeen City Council, Aberdeen University and Robert Gordon University. CityLab allows students to consider civic challenges and, during a 12-week user-centred design course, come up with tangible solutions.

The idea for the smart bench sprung from students’

concerns around the safety of young people late at night, if they become separated from friends and their phones are out of charge. Other projects to emerge from CityLab include Tuk-In, an electric ‘tuk-tuk’ vehicle that will distribute surplus food in areas of deprivation, and Next Step Energy, which plans to install rubber pads in city pavements that will harvest kinetic energy from pedestrians to power street lighting. “CityLab is about using the city as a classroom where

young people can help make Aberdeen a better city,” said Councillor Ross Grant. “The programme allows the students to focus on city challenges and create tangible and innovative solutions through user-centred design principles and the expert knowledge of key stakeholders from public, private or third party organi-

sations. The aim is that each winning project could be carried forward by the city council, or by an interested city partner. The standard has been excellent and we are delighted to see the winning projects being rolled out across the city.” Ed Krafcik, partnership director at Soofa, said:

“We’re very excited about the Aberdeen launch as we are slowly ramping up our expansion into Europe. Their smart approach, working in close collaboration with telcos, developers, technology suppliers and others will create lasting value, benefiting everyone.” Since its launch in 2014, the Soofa bench has been

installed in around 75 cities throughout the world. News of its pending arrival in Aberdeen emerged at the FutureScot/Sunday Times Scotland Digital Cities event in the city last month.

Community crowdfunder seeking Scottish growth

A crowdfunding site which boosts campaigns with contributions from busi- ness, foundations and local authorities, is launching a drive to grow in Scotland, writes William Peakin., whose platform has raised £7m over the past five years, is dedicated to supporting people shape their local communities. “It’s an old idea,” said Amelie De-

schenes, senior partnerships executive at Spacehive. “It used to be called public subscription. The pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty stands was funded by an appeal to readers of the New York World newspaper by publisher Joseph Pulitzer. It wasn’t quite enough so he went to his black book and brought in some big funders. “But we’ve brought it into the 21st

century, and democratised it. The model is simple; people and organisations with

ideas for improving their local area come to our platform to gather support from the community through crowdfunding campaigns. “Then our partners – councils, busi-

nesses, grant bodies, property developers – make them happen with a contribution. This collaborative approach has resulted in hundreds of projects delivered across the UK, thousands of people involved in making them happen, and millions in investment.” Projects have included an artist who

wanted to create a slide in Bristol’s high street; he raised £5,000 to buy the length of plastic, straw bales and soapy water. But, noted Deschenes, on the day the installa- tion raised £120,000 for the local economy from footfall generated by the event. Another, in Liverpool, saw a residents’ group raise £40,000 for a feasibility

study to turn a disused flyover into an elevated park, along the lines of New York’s High Line. The council had been planning to demolish the flyover, at a cost of between £3m and £4m. Significantly it was one of the final organisations to pledge to the Spacehive-based campaign. One of the platform’s first campaigns

was in Scotland; the ‘Porty Lightbox’, a disused phonebox in Portobello, has been turned into an art installation with LED displays and designs supplied by local schoolchildren. Recently, residents of a new housing development, at Glenmill near Giffnock, raised more than £5,000 to upgrade an Openreach cabinet so they can have access to fibre broadband, with the company matching their contribution. But Spacehive, which was established

as a social enterprise, wants to signifi- cantly increase the size and impact of

its campaigns north of the border. In London, the Mayor has given £1.1m to projects around the city and committed to a further £3.5m for future campaigns.. “We want to see more projects at scale,” said Deschenes. “Places and spaces matter to people

and shaping them should be collabora- tive. We create a market place of ideas and funding. We get innovative ideas and we unlock new sources of funding. In turn, we create more resilient commu- nities because they have responsibility for making change happen, and more cohesive, because people are going out into their communities and making con- nections.”

Park and slide: One man’s high

street caper generated £120,000 for the local economy

vibration, pressure, touch and texture - in real-time.” Imran’s team is working on the pre-

requisites of a 5G network, such as energy and spectrum efficiency, and the ability to intelligently manage peaks and troughs in demand caused by the anticipated billions of connected devices, applications and smart objects sharing information ubiquitously. “Universities, industry and government are investing heavily in this new technology as an essential backbone for the digital services of the future,” he said. Professor Chris Pearce, lead for the

university’s overarching Smart Campus project said: “Glasgow University is keen to contribute to this development through

a programme of partnership research, based around the development of the smart campus. The aim is to create a living lab to test these requirements, and the potential of these new applications.” The university is working with CGI, the

world’s fifth largest independent infor- mation technology and business process services firm. Its geospatial specialists create life-like 3D maps and simulations of physical environments, detailed down to 2cm, which can provide dynamic real-time views of urban landscapes, both outside and inside buildings. “5G depends on line-of-sight connec-

tion, and signal performance is affected by environmental factors, surface materials, traffic, and demand for data,” said Suzan-

nah Brecknock, geospatial innovation lead in CGI’s Digital Insight team. “Therefore, 3D city modelling and accurate, real-time understanding of a continually changing physical environment is essential to plan and manage a 5G network. “To create a 5G planning tool, we will

need to capture accurate survey data of the entire estate, and transform this into a 3D model. Sensor data and live CCTV feeds can be viewed directly in the platform, which can enable researchers understand what’s happening in an area of poor performance. “Each building and physical asset, in-

cluding trees and street furniture, will be linked to a centralised, open-source data- base which will contain accurate informa-

tion about whether a building is listed, a tree is protected, surface materials, and the locations of utility access points and power sources. Innovation around the collection of this data is an area of special interest for CGI, as we know our local authority clients will need to plan for 5G in the future. “Local authorities understand all-too-

well the challenges faced when trying to access property or asset information in a single place, as some of this data may not be readily available, or may be held by other parties. CGI has over 500 geospatial data specialists, and teams who specialise in ‘robotic process automation’ and

Continued on Page 2 Benchmarks: From Obama’s White House to the Granite City

1 October 2017

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