Jun 212018

Today I am at the Digital Scotland 2018 Conference in Glasgow – if you are along do give me a wave (you’ll find me easily from the glare of my mirrored protractor brooch!). i’ll be liveblogging today, with the usual caveats that I welcome any additions, corrections, etc.

Introduction by Conference ChairAlisdair Gunn, Director, Framewire, & BIMA Scotland Council Member.
Good morning and thanks for coming today to the inaugeral Digital Scotland conference. I’m Alistair Gunn and I’m honoured to be your chair today. Today’s conference brings together suppliers, local and national government, and technologists together. At the beginning of 2017 the Scottish Government published the Digital Scotland strategy, and each of us play a role in delivering that strategy which aims for inclusive economic growth, and to make Scotland one of the world’s leading digital nations. We really encourage tweeting and sharing of today’s conference, using #digitalscotland. The event is also being livestreamed by ProductForge. Due to overwhelming interest today I can also announce that the Digital Scotland event will run again next year.
Keynote: ‘Harnessing technology for the benefit of society’
Chris Yiu, Senior Policy Fellow for Technology, The Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
I wanted to kick off with a birds eye view of technology and policy themes as we see them at the Institute. So, first I want to start with some numbers. Martha Lane Foxes doteveryone charity surveyed people across the UK: 50% said “the internet has made life a lot better for people like me. But only 12% (one in ten) said “the internet has had a very positive impact on society”. So, something has gone very wrong. What I’d like to talk about today is what those issues might be, and what we might do as policy makers.
Some of the questions here are issues like surveillance – whether we are being monitored, if there will be another data breach. But that can be countered with rights. Manipulation – are my apps, are the tools I use manipulating me. Or will we use technology for wellbeing, for making lives better. Polarisation – fake news, polarised political views. But technology also has the potential to build and enable community. Stagnation vs Prosperity; Automation or Meaningful work and life; Indifference or Fairness; Excess – e.g. bitcoin’s environmental impact vs sustainability; and vulnerability vs security. None of these questions are easily answered but we face them every day, and we have to think about how policy makers and politics address those questions.
Right now politics is no longer left or right. And you can also think about the world against Politics mapped against Tech. We can visualised this as a grid from False Nostalgia; Incremental progress; Exponential progress; and Tech nationalism (moving clockwise from bottom left). We mainly focus on that nostalgia for a pre-tech world adn incremental progress. We should be focusing on the other side of this graph – China a leading on that Tech nationalism area. But the real world concerns is about affordable good quality healthcare, education, social change, and those are unchanging concerns in many ways, we need those to shape our use of technology.
We also have increasing AI possibilities. As a hobby I make a list of exciting AI examples (see deepindex.org). At first these were fun silly things, but now it is supply chain management, risk management, predictive analysis in insurance, diagnostic medicine tools that outperform human specialists. Some see this as a threat to jobs. I think this is about freeing up human time for more important interactions. This stuff is real, the opportunity is there. And actually where you see this technology now is everyday in AirBnB, in Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, Instagram, Netflix, Spotify, Twitter, Uber… And these companies do powerful things with AI which raise all sorts of policy channels. Rules, laws and regulations are frequently pre internet, whilst these companies have new business models, new ways of working. No matter what you think of these companies they are delivering services to huge numbers of people, many of whom are satisfied with that experience. Amazon for instance is one of the most loved companies on the planet, transforming the highstreet – with shops closing… But also the customer experience is light years ahead, and it would be good to see more shops doing that which is where service design comes in.
On service design… I try to book an appointment at my family doctor. Maybe once I’d have written a letter, then I could go in in person, or call… As we get further along, maybe I can book online without that telephone queue wait. Sounds good, and it sounds achievable… But those apps and the technology that pervades our lives has changed the rules…. And if you haven’t seen it you should read Jeff Bezos’ letter to shareholders where he says “customers are perfectly discontent”… As user experience becomes better, perfect user experience is also racing away… So nevermind that online booking of appointment – maybe I want to videocall my doctor right now. And this is hugely important. My experience as a consumer looks one way, my experience as a citizen lags behind. Maybe there was always a lag but the wider that gap in experience is, the less appealing and sustainable participation in society. That’s a threat to transactional stuff – moves to private schools or healthcase – but more importantly ceasing to try to make your voice heard…
But I think there are things we can do:
1. A structured dialogue between the change makers and the policy makers
2. A better approach to regulation that is built around the reality of the internet – that means root and branch reform that is built on internet as the norm. That’s harder to do today – it’s a reserved issue. But it’s also a global issue.
3. An ambitious policy platform that gives people hope about the future – be bold enough to see the potential to make a radical difference to the stuff that matters. That needs focus – we can’t do everything – and really requires work across sectors with government and local authorities working with private and third sectors.
I’m going to leave that here and will be around to engage in the conversation throughout the day. Thank you.
Digital Transformation Panel
Join us for a conversation on how digital is transforming Scotland, and what more needs to be done to fulfil the potential of our communities and the nation.Featuring:
  • Alistair Gunn (AG), Chair of session
  • Colin Cook (CC), Director, Digital, The Scottish Government; 
  • Martyn Wallace (MW), Chief Digital Officer, ‎The Digital Office Scottish Local Government; 
  • Polly Purvis (PP), Chief Executive, ScotlandIS; 
  • Cat Leaver (CL), Project Director, Brand Scotland.
CC: Chris was absolutely right in an aspirational way – we really want to be ambitious and transformational. And no-one in Government thinks that transformational change is possible on our own, government has to work together with other sectors with common programmes and pieces of work. Equally important as that is that government doesn’t think that the public sector can be working alone here, and see the value of working with private sector. We work in different ways with the private sector, and CivTech is a part of that, but there is more to do that. We have more than achieved our targets on broadband rollout, we have key programmes on identity management, and we have more to do and are looking forward to what can come out of the discussions today.
MW: Echoing what Colin said, we are facing all kinds of challenges in the public sector. I came from the private sector and thought I knew the public sector, but its so much more complex – the things we do every day saving lives, facing challenges, we have technical and HR skills to address as well as cultural shifts that need to be there. I was at an event on Friday asking if we were tinkering or whether we are transforming. I think in many ways we are still tinkering but we need to be transforming… We have more pilots than RyanAir – we need to be more agile, iterate… We shouldn’t have these big media-covered collapses if we do that. And we need public understanding that we can’t do what we used to as we just don’t have the finances to do it. Sometimes you don’t need a doctor – you need a GP, or an information source, and that saves money in the system. We have to have a balanced approach – investing but also changing the conversation at the top. There is great collaboration across Scottish and local government. We need common data standards and interoperability to get this right – otherwise we are handing over public money to service integrators that we can ill afford.
PP: We represent everyone – from Microsoft, CGI, SkyScanner, to small companies and everything in between. We work closely with government both to help them but also to hold their feet to the fire. We need to really focus on the opportunities that technology provide. There are such bright futures possible here, but we have to get more people involved and engaged. That is a really serious challenge. Lifelong learning has to be for all of us all the time to make this work.
AG: This is part of why agile, service design, and actually you could almost drop the private and public sector labels… It’s all one sector in some ways. But as Martin said, we need to communicate what we do here in Scotland.
CL: I am about to take that journey from private to public sector, like Martyn has. Brand Scotland is about telling our stories, helping those outside of Scotland understand our assets here, our stories, and highlighting innovation, the private sector successes here, the public sector achievements.
AG: I saw a TEDx talk where the speaker spoke of innovation, noting that the public sector is one of the best innovators, and funds universities to innovate too. Looking forward, Colin, what are the sorts of things you are thinking about. We have the Digital Strategy in place. What’s next? Should there be another strategy?
CC: We love a strategy! But that’s not the critical thing. Picking up on what Cat said, we need a clear articulation of the type of digital nation that we want to be in Scotland. We are starting to recognise that and build on that. And actually there are particular aspects of Scotland wanting inclusive growth – broadband is very important to ensuring no one gets left behind. Standards is important, common approaches to online identity is important. We have new powers – social security, employability, etc. which allows us to make changes in what we do, and there is a lot of opportunity. Going back to what Chris said, these are platforms and small changes but the real change will happen where all conferences, all influencers are thinking about digital first. We are seeing that starting to happen and I’m confident that that’s where we are going.
AG: And it’s starting to think about the services side of things… There is strong presence with the health sector – what engagement do you see there?
CL: We ran a youth event alongside the big conference on digital health in Glasgow recently. We had wondered if the youth would engage in the health innovation side of things but there were 600 young people connecting with digital health, and they particularly reflected those shifting expectations and familiarity with digital experiences that Chris talked about.
MW: “Digital” isn’t coming… It’s here in your phones, it’s the self-checkout at the supermarket… It is transforming day to day life already. Service design is crucial here, we promote and adopt in digital local government. We can’t run things as we did in the past – I want to access healthcare through my Alexa, my connected home… I want feedback. That’s proper transformation… Being kept alive and being looked after is crucial for people and to do that in practicce transformation just is digital, it doesn’t need that special label anymore.
AG: Are we missing a skills gap here, a training requirement?
PP: In this room we are on the same page. We have digital skills and enthusiasm but so much of Scotland is not there yet. Some of our agricultural companies and farms know they will lose labour in the future – they are starting to automate with robots. There will be jobs in the future… Young people understand that… But we all need those skills, that understanding of AI, robotics, IoT. We need to understand and upskill… But our school system is so focused on skills education for childhood through universities… But we need more there, we need skills development throughout life to allow us to embrace technology and future opportunities.
MW: I wanted to say that SCVO do have a Digital Participation Charter – look at it, sign up. But it’s not basic skills anymore, its needed skills. We as an organisation need to address this, we need skills development, we need to ensure we are ready for the future, we need to have conversations with staff. The basic most needed skills are a great place to start and build on.
AG: We know that the private sector creates services and products… Do we see that flow between sectors. It is exciting to be in the public sector – big digital transformation projects. Are there things that the public sector can be talking to the private sector about.
CC: I’ve been in the public sector for 16 years. I think my learning now is as great as it has ever been in my personal career – you learn from the sector, from the market… Yes there is a lot we can learn from. As we approach digital transformation we want to encourage co-location, we want to encourage skills transfer – we see change but we see changes in the companies working with us. That’s a hugely inspirational place to be. We all struggle to attract and retain the talent we need but we really need that, we need people to bring in their skills and expertise.
AG: We are seeing products coming out for companies to work on… CivTech is good – how does that scale?
MW: At the launch of a programme in London there was a lot of discussion of learning from the lead of Scottish public sector. We have truly innovative companies in Scotland, how do we engage with that? CivTech’s one of the best examples of that we’ve seen.
AG: How does Scotland do benchmarking internationally in this space?
CL: Surveys show we aren’t known for innovation and technology – lots of whisky, golf and salmon (I’m over simplifying that) – so there is a lot of work to do to tell those stories, and we all need to get involved in that.
Q1 – Janet Roberts, EDINA) I would be interested to know how the inclusion agenda runs through your work. My organisation runs the Digimaps for Schools service promoting digital skills and critical thinking with young people. We are heavily involved in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal and wanted to ask you about how Scotland makes our strong inclusion ambitions happen.
A1 – PP) We have to be so careful in this room – we talk jargon that is inaccessible to many. City Deal has huge possibility but also talks about data science, AI… and those won’t be familiar terms for many. So how do we make sure that the City Deal reaches that 21% of people in the City Region living in poverty – mainly in more rural places? How do we make that work relevant to everybody and bring them into these opportunities so there is real local benefit. There are no easy answer there but it’s so important.
A1 – MW) People talk about digital by default – that’s exclusionary – so we talk about digital first. We know there are connectivity challenges. We can push on 5G. We have some local authorities looking at poverty levels, connectivity, and look at how they can ensure communities do have access to the internet. You have to iterate and work on this – you can’t wait until everyone is online, but you have to be aware that not everyone is or will want to engage online.
A1 – CC) We have relaunched the national performance framework which talks about opportunities for all and inclusive development. That doesn’t mean you don’t invest in centres of excellence – like Edinburgh – but it means spreading that knowledge and expertise more widely. The City Region Deal in Edinburgh is a great example of that work to ensure development is inclusive.
A1 – CL) We did workshops with Turning Point, with former homeless people… They were asking what data is, how they can have email – needed for job applications and systems – when they have no access to computers. So we really do need to ensure we don’t leave anyone out of this.
Q2) How do we make free wifi available across Scotland, including rural communities, so that vulnerable people, poorer communities, etc. have access to the internet to be able to participate here.
A2 – MW) Scotland has real challenges around connectivity – we have hills and valleys here that make it complex; small rural communities have few users and have high costs and low return on investment. 5G has great potential but actually it uses lower bandwidth so you need more masts, more backhaul. But we do have shared masts across Scotland where O2/Vodafone boxes are on every mast to enable emergency services connectivity. But you can get 99% of coverage but… I live in a rural community myself and know the challenge there. And we have to work in partnership and in new ways…
A2 – CC) We do have close working with companies – and that’s fairly unique to Scotland. We are working on City Superfast Broadband, and there are 5G announcements today, so it is also always improving.

Across the day there are three sessions running in parallel for each of these Masterclasses, so for all of these sessions I’ll be blogging from the ones I’ve signed up for. For this session that’s The Economy…

SESSION 1: THE ECONOMY: Supporting growth in the digital sector


  • Polly Purvis (PP), Chief Executive, ScotlandIS; 
  • Colin Cook (CC), Director, Digital, The Scottish Government;
  • Melinda Matthews Clarkson (MMC), Chief Executive, CodeClan; 
  • Maggie Morrison (MM), Vice President, Public Sector, CGI.
    Chaired by: Alisdair Gunn (AG), Director, Framewire & BIMA Scotland Council Member.

MMC: My background is twenty years in software and computer programming – my first application was instant messaging on a mainframe. I run CodeClan, and we are the only certified digital skills and code academy in the country. I am a huge cheerleader for change and I am so excited about what Scotland can and will become.

MM: I’ve over 35 years of experience in IT, starting out in a company working on Telex and Modems but since then have worked with many of the leading multinationals. I spent 14 years at Cisco and HP before joining CGI. My career in tech allowed me to work at the leading edge and travel the world. I worked for companies that still thrive, but also a cluster of tech companies that no longer exist. The pace of change is huge and what keeps me awake at night is ensuring that young people are ready for this, that we are ready for this, that we learn and relearn all the time. It was great to read in The Scotsman that technology adds £3.9B to the Scottish economy, but the pace of change is fast and we have to be ready for that.

AG: Does Scotland have the company base to be competitive?

MM: The scale of start ups in Scotland is increadible – something like 30% of the UK tech start ups come out of Scotland. But we need to get much better at exports – to be more like Ireland at that. As part of the work we do for Glasgow Council we have 52,000 tablets to all Glasgow Schools. Primary 1-6 will have a shared device, above that they will have a personal device. For children in Glasgow that should position them well to explore these devices, to understand what they can do. Educating parents in digital, in the future economy, we have to do all of this.

AG: Melinda, what’s your experience of working with companies?

MMC: The people who engage with us become the biggest fans. There just aren’t enough engaging. And that means communicating what a graduade of CodeClan actually looks like. It’s not (just) a barista training in 16 weeks, so many come in from tech and other sectors with a growth mindset, a really open mind to expand and develop their skills. When people do take on CodeClan graduates they are overwhelmed by the learning potential there. In Scotland there is such innovation and creativity, but there isn’t that culture of competitiveness – and that is where Silicon Valley benefits. That helps you keep up with expectations as they change, so we need some culture change.

AG: What about using

PP: The first thing I want to say is that Britain is a huge tech market so sometimes growth can be Britain, not just internationally. The figures on Scottish tech actually underplays the contribution.  Tech contributes £6B to the Scottish economy. Many of our companies do work internationally, but there is more to do. And we really need to get skills of ecommerce out to other sectors – the death of the highstreet is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity. We need to encourage that. And it is concerning that ecommerce is nowhere in our curriculum in schools and education. That could add hugely. We have some fantastic ingrediants, we just need to build on them… Not every company has an online presence, that’s part of the problem. It’s not about Scotland… Debenhams, House of Fraser, they wouldn’t be in the mess they are in if they’d sorted their ecommerce. It’s a wider problem.

MM: We’ve talked goods and products, but also there is huge opportunity for other types of offers. Y Combinator takes tech businesses (often without a product) through an incubator, time in Silicon Valley, and AirBnB came out of that. We talk too much here about products and goods.

PP: One of the challenges here is that it’s hard to scale services. Products do scale fast… But where I agree with Maggie is that platforms do scale fast. Skyscanner is a product company and a platform company.

MM: It’s not either/or… But it’s “and”. We don’t focus enough or recognise the possibility of non-product offerings.

AG: How do we persuade people that being a backend enabler, a B2B company that helps other companies, is a good thing? We talked about CivTech earlier – how do we scale services out of that to a global thing?

CC: Scaling comes with the challenge of how you keep fast growing and large scale businesses in Scotland, so that the scaling benefits the economy here. We do try to scale services in different ways, we want to scale the CivTech concept in fact.


Q1) I wanted to ask about the missing middle. With CivTech… For the public sector how do we procure without “being brought by one of the big boys” being the answer?

A1 – MM) Deals above a certain size have a public benefit threshold. And for big contracts with councils we have a requirement for 25% of work to be undertaken by local businesses, and they have to be paid in 10 days. CGI’s policy it to pay them (not acquire them). That forces multinationals to make sure that 25% of that work comes from local providers – it’s not perfect but it’s the best solution from the public sector so far.

A1 – PP) We have worked with Scottish Government and things are improving. But many of our companies are health organisations but they almost always sell south of the border first, it’s too slow to get into the Scottish market.

A1 – CC) We need to talk earlier in the process before formal procurement. We need new approaches to partnering, some about sharing risk… Some issues are addressed by CivTech, some are addressed elsewhere.

SESSION 2: PUBLIC SERVICES: Designing services around users

  • Cat Macaulay (CM), Head of User Research and Services Design, The Scottish Government;
  • Leah Lockhart (LL), Engagement Consultant;
  • Clare Hillis (CH), Head of Public Sector, Vodafone (chairing)
  • Paul Duffy (PD), Co – Director for IT and Telecommunications, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

CH: I’m delighted to be here today to share some of our experiences of designing public sector services for users. We have with us today Cat Macaulay from Scottish Government, Leah Lockhard, engagement consultant and Paul Duffy from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust.

PD: I’m here to represent health and digital really, and improving health and patient care. We look are services across health and social care in Belfast and Northern Ireland. We have too little money and too much expected of us so service design and improvement is crucial to deliver patient care.

CM: I am head of a new department in Scottish Government. We have two big ambitions: to build and manage UCD – user research, content, interaction etc. designers across Scotland; and to be fantastic at designing in inclusive processes that are genuinely centred on the citizen – not only citizens who can read, or see, or hear, or have great mobility etc.

LL: I sit at the intersection of technology, academia, design and art and creative work. Generally I help people understand how to engage people, how to use the internet to engage with people. I’m working with SEPA at the moment on a user research and service design and, breaking news, I’ll be moving with Snook very soon.

CH: I wanted to ask you, Cat, about working with users not neccassarily saying what the challenge is.

CM: Most of the time when service design fails, we are solving the wrong problem. Typically we do things like: the paper form doesn’t work so we digitise the form and wonder why that didn’t work. In Scotland citizens have to drive services and drive policies – so we have to engage people much earlier in the process, and that matters particularly in the digital world where we have to be agile. We can’t put a problem on the back of an envelope, build a huge business case, go to procurement, and then wonder why it doesn’t work for citizens five years later… We need to get away from that.

PD: We don’t want to apply “digital” as the label. We want service improvements where digital is just part of the solution to that. Too often we’ve looked at solutions, and changing working processes to meet the app we’ve brought. That doesn’t work. What you need is for the people who will be changing to help imagine what could work better, how we can improve what we do. So we look at a problem, we look at how we can solve that and where digital does that… The first digital tools will always be the hardest to get in place. What do we mean when we talk about this? Are we going to invest? Are we going to do the hard work to embed it and make it work? If we don’t, if we think digital is done to you, and that it will fix problems alone, then it fails.

LL: I think that change in power dynamics are important. We need to change how we engage… Chris talked earlier about the risk of people opting out because we aren’t being relevant to them.

CH: When you do this, are there challenges around what citizens want and what you can do.

CM: Service design isn’t about asking people what they want. It’s about understanding what we need within the realm of what is possible. We do currently tend to ask people what they want, when we should be asking what they need and how that can drive what we do. The benefit of that approach is that it enables a more mature conversation with citizens.

CH: What has worked best in identifying the right solutions.

PD: Far too many projects start without defining the problem. You have to define the problem. Then identify the ideal solution, and iterate and review that. If you want to fail a digital project, start with unclear objectives! We have actually designed an onboarding process – physicians aren’t managers, they aren’t usually experienced with budgets. I try to avoid pilots, proof of concepts… So our projects are tightly constrained and aim to do something intentionally… We may not always achieve that to time or budget but that constraint is important.

LL: I’ve been through a world of pain when I haven’t properly explained what I do with services, with organisations… So that they understand what we do, so that service design and user research becomes the norm.

Q1) I work for a company that builds products… I wonder how we achieve early access when engaging with authorities and organisations…

A1 – CM) We’ve done lots of work recently to push hard on having users engaged in products throughout the process. We engage users as early as possible in the project, to understand what we should be looking at, getting users to help me understand that we are thinking along the right time… We do research, we want collaborative sense making – compare, contrast, and the differences are where interesting stuff emerges. We currently have over 2000 people on our social care panel, and ways to reach service users for instance.

Q2) Quite often we tend to go to champions or representatives… How do we consult a representative range of citizens.

A2 – CM) We have a bug bear in the public sector about representativeness – this isn’t a thing in the private sector. You will never have a representative of all users. Sometimes you will have lots of people, sometimes it is smaller groups. You will rarely be statistically representative. What you can do is to triangulate, to understand that information in context, to ensure validity of what we do. And this isn’t a science, design is not a science. You need co-design, engagement, and mixed methods.

A2 – LL) You have to be comfortable – and it’s hard for public services to take this on board right now – that this goes on all the time. You don’t then stop, you stay engaged.

Q3) So is this a choice between doing something agile now and long planned projects?

A3) These aren’t separate things. The advantage of agile is that you are rapidly iterating and trying things out. Working on some 3 year project where you are locked away working on a problem isn’t how the private sector works, that agile process is part of those projects.

A3 – PD) If you do agile you need the budget holder engaged – every meeting costs money so you have to stay constrained, you have to actually end up with something. You need to understand how many iterations are appropriate for a given budget. We are currently working on trauma management… Digital can provide a level of non-repudiation and ownership that paper and pager systems don’t allow… But people aren’t stupid so you get resistance, you will have hidden agendas here… And you have to accommodate that in your project budget. But we are about ready to roll that out… Once it’s out there, change is made, and then this service improvement can be applied to other areas. The change has to be owned by the people who will live with that working practice.

Q3) One of the challenges we have is that if your user research shows what you know, then management is reluctant to invest in this work. How we get management buy in for this sort of work?

A3 – CM) Relentless Resilience! We have to change. Our service design has reflected organisations not citizen needs. It’s a cultural change. We build culture change into our organisation but we also have to acknowledge that we don’t know the perfect solution yet. Anyone who says you can apply service design to public services is mad. This is really hard. It’s not the same as designing the experience in a coffee shop here, it’s about “ok, someone fell down the stairs and broke her leg this morning, she’s a single mum of two and one of her kids is in a bit of trouble in school, and she’s behind on her rent”. This isn’t easy stuff to fix.

A3 – PD) It’s about doing this process right, being agile, showing the benefit of working in this way to improve services.

A3 – CM) One way to pick this up is our quality process, and standards. We have to hang in there, its hard.

SESSION 3: HEALTH: Technology enabled health and social care in Scotland

  • Michelle Brogan (MB), Home and Mobile Health Monitoring lead, NHS24; 
  • Hazel Archer (HA), Video Conference and Attend Anywhere Lead, NHS24; 
  • Liza McLean (LM), Head of eHealth Strategy and Policy, Scottish Government.
LM: Welcome to this session. I have responsibility for eHealth Strategy and Policy in Scottish Government. The context for this session is Scotland’s Digital Health and Social Care Strategy. As you’ll know, digital disruption is here. Health and Social Care has not, yet, taken full advantage of digital technology. When looking at putting together this strategy I was reminded of Dr Marion Lennon (Strathclyde University) had done on the Delivering Assisted Living Lifestyles at Scale (dallas), particularly around public and consumer readiness, health provider readiness, and key issues around practically putting this into proactive. We have six domains to take forward – do look at the strategy online – but I’m really excited to hear about projects that are already taking place.
MB: I’m here with my colleague Hazel Archer. We are working on technology enabled care programme in Scotland, and our work to date. Then we’ll talk about two examples of video consulting, and of home and mobile health monitoring. Then we’ll have some reflections on key learning.
This TEC (Tech Enabled Care) programme has been working over 3 years with 31 partnerships, 10 of the 14 health boards, and we work on a grants basis to help health boards to transform their services. At the heart of our programme are work strands in: home and mobile health monitoring; video conferencing; digital platforms; expansion of telecare (inc analogue to digital telecare); improvement and support. This isn’t about technology, it’s about transformational change in Scotland. So those areas of work don’t stand alone, it’s about leadership, service redesign, problem solving, etc.
In terms of how many people are using TEC services, we have about 73k people benefitting and are set to have 80k by the end of the project. Our achievements include launch of Attend Anywhere Video Consultation. We have a new National Service Model to support local implementation of Home and Mobile Health Monitoring and largest sale up of blood pressure monitoring in the UK. We are delivering a proof of concept and business case for NHS. And our work has been recognised across Scotland.
Telecare enables a good level of support, in the home, for vulnerable older people who are often live alone. By 2025 analogue phone lines will switch to digital, we need to be ready for that so we have a big piece of work led by Martyn Wallace to make sure we can do this. We also have a role out of cCBT – community based CBT services through a tool called “Beating the Blues” which aims to reach 100% of the population, having started with 10% of people reached by these technology.
We had a review of the TEC programme published in 2018 which has helped us to review what we do.
AH: We developed a video conference suite established across the NHS – we estimate that it saves £5m per year in saved travel. But we’ve not really had that connection to the home. Why do we want to do this? Well lets look at an individual living in the Highlands who is doing home dialysis. They need to be visited daily – thats a 6 hour round trip so that nurse will only see one patient in a day. And Highlands and Islands NHS, travel for patients costs them 5% of their entire budget. So, we’ve tried to do video conferencing in the home for a long time. Right now you can do this through browser tools… This is really a workflow change. Normal NHS workflow includes wait times and flexibility. Video conferencing expects on time delivery but that isn’t real life, so it’s how you you shape that new workflow…
So we have a system (http://www.sctt.org.uk/attendanywhere/) and anyone can go in and start a call – no login or checking, no download etc. There are logins for clinicians that limit what they can access and see, but also limits them to seeing patients with the appropriate conditions. We began roll out in 2016, first patient was 2017. We are now up to almost 600 consultations. User feedback has been really positive – finding this easy to use, and 98% of people said they would “use it again”. And success comes down significantly to what you choose to do – this isn’t the right solution for all issues (e.g. you can’t do an ultrasound over the internet).
Our busiest clinic is Grampian Gastro – one of the biggest challenges for IBS patients is travel. And this is a service that is mostly talking. It works really well. In the Western Isles a Respiratory clinic was involving a specialist flying up for the day, telecare works brilliantly here and saves two days of travel. The latest Western Isles clinic is for hand surgery – again that saves huge travel money.
We also have NHS Near Me (www.sctt.org.uk/attendanywhere/NHSNearMe) which is about the service model around these tools.
MB: I want to quickly talk about another exemplar here. It’s not technology, it’s wrap around service model that adds value; it’s about simple well designed technology. So, health and mobile isn’t that new but we were in “pilot-itis”. The rise in smartphones, increased adoption, and positive interest from health providers have all made big changes. We want better health, better care and better value – remote care at a distance. So we are using home enabled healthcare to really help us get early risk alerts (e.g. diabetic blood levels). One of the cases for change here include the fact that measuring blood pressure is the third commonest reason for attending primary care appointments – 1.2 million appointments And that’s set to double by 2030. In addition measurements in surgery are less accurate compared to home monitoring. Meanwhile 60% of patients don’t take their blood pressure medications regularly/when they should. So we wanted a sustainable TEC enabled model to support automated monitoring, alerts and interventions. The system we use is SMS based but enables real time monitoring by GPs, as well as allowing feedback, interventions, advice, etc. back from the healthcare provider. This is being rolled out to people with initial diagnosis/high reading, through to those with long term issues.
20 out of the 14 health boards use HMHM “simple telehealth” SMS solution integrating into routine care. There is a national blue print digitally enabled pathway for hypertension. Currently reaching 5200 people, will scale to 10,000. This is really scaling up. And the benefits include saving up to 40% of appointments, high level of satisfaction, convenience, treatment compliance, improved blood pressure control and appropriate use of medication.
In summary we hope we’ve demonstrated that TEC is here and happening, delivering real impacts but we need more time, leadership and support for key areas. It’s about designing a new care model, not so much about the technology. It’s iterative scale up informed by data evaluation. We’ve worked strategically to use a “once for Scotland” approach – with standard approaches. But we also need to understand what implementation strategies work best for the future. And we are committed to long term service improvement.
CivTech®update: Alexander Holt, Head of CivTech, The Scottish Government.
CivTech is part of the Digital Directorate in the Scottish Goverment. We want to drive change and innovation that makes people’s lives better. We want to create products and services that make real change. Procurement can be slow – months or years to do and roll out. And that can easily go wrong. Technology moves so quickly… See e.g. the work CENSIS are doing in this very building. The challenge is: how do you procure something that you don’t know exists?
CivTech reframes the whole space.. We look for challenges, and we put those into an ecosystem, there’s a selection process, and an accelerator and one company per challenge gets 20k, then can go on to get 200k. And maybe it also goes global.
An example project here: we worked with SEPA who wanted to improve flood monitoring. Gary came up with a solution using bumper sensors and GPS, and it’s getting rolled out across Scotland. We worked with Transport Scotland and they found a way that driving over potholes could detect and report them – that’s being rolled out. Lumera Health looked at triaging around dermatology in Glasgow. Dogfish mobile helped Stirling Council pull data from multiple services into one platform.
So, we’ve run this twice and we’ve just launched CivTech 3.0 where challenges include illegal trading, social isolation, standards in rented housing, the circular economy around the reuse of medical products, staff satisfaction, young people and their digital footprint with young people at the core of that challenge… There is a real spectrum here.
The lesson learned here is that we don’t labour away on solutions no one needs. You start with the client, the problem and the market. And the benefits of this process is cross-pollination, and this ecosystem of delivering services. We have a workshop programme of 40 workshops over 4 months covering product, business and personal development. And the feedback is that half of these are as useful for the public sector as they are for the private sector. We talk about entrepreneurial government – it’s about skills and transformation of the public sector in a deep immersive experience. It’s a collaboration with everyone.
What is the impact here? Well it’s the roll out of solutions. It’s Stirling Council making 1.5m in cost avoidance. It’s 16/1 8 companies still in operation; 1.5 m in subsequent contracts. There is real economic benefit here. And the Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution backs this approach – and it’s getting international interest. But I want to come back to something Chris said earlier about delivery and process…
We start with user need, that needs to be met by a public sector organisation, theres an idea and citizens and innovation centres and academia feeding in. Then that product needs to be developed further by public sector organisations… They need investment, and that needs scale, potentially going global. That leads to productivity and trust. Why should this come from Digital Directorate? Well it’s about our policies on procurement, citizen engagement and service design, academic collaboration, business support, reuse, buying and build. We see this as Civtechnomics.
It’s about moving from sandbox to widespread adoption. So a lesson we learnt here is the idea of adopting a 3 to 1 procurement approach – why not do that in other procurement. If you know of entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs then send them our way – applications close on 2nd July. So that’s us: driving daring and innovation in the public sector.
State of the Tech Nation:Gerard Grech, Chief Executive, Tech Nation.
I think Alexander couldn’t have set this up better. I’m going to give you a lot of stats on UK tech right now, and in relation to Europe. Digital Innovation is changing, and it’s changing fast. Tech Nation is a private company that is publicly backed and privately backed, and we’ve worked with 50 companies who have collectively raised $7Bn in 50 months, at all growth stages. We’ve seen what it takes to move from someone in a garage, through to listing on the stock market. As a company with technical and business skills. These companies are growing so quickly – we see companies going from 5 people to 500 or 2000 people in a year. It’s about ambition and Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, has to be ready for that.
So I’m going to start by talking about how innovation is evolving globally. Innovation is open, it’s not linear anymore. There is process… But the more open you are to it, the more succesful you are… But people like to control, this doesn’t feel natural… Even in the UK companies can set up and a few years later be worth a few billion. There are four key drivers of a tech ecosystem – and Scotland has a lot of competition here. (1) You need the talent – without that you will not get investment. That could be hobbiests, that could be people who’ve just been made redundant; (2) You need the ideas of where to disrupt, where the opportunities are; (3) It’s about the infrastructure – what universities do with graduates and what you do with drop outs. Drop outs matter, we stigmatise it, but universities are not the place for everyone, especially if you are a genius. I was in Norwich the other week chatting to a 19 year old who had dropped out of university but they’d understood how to support him, and he had a great network, and his company had benefitted from pivoting four times already, flexing to opportunities and this was in Norwich – the end of the train line;  (4) You need finance – and I know the financial conduct authority enables useful experimental space for FinTech that is being replicated elsewhere.
Each year we publish the most comprehensive research on UK Tecg, using data from partners and 3400+ survey responses (80% outside London). All the data is open at data.world. Find it at TechNation.io. For instance you can find data on popular programming languages broken down by city through the data we have from GitHub.
The UK’s digital tech sector grew 2.6 times faster than the rest of the economy in 2017. Digital tech turnover increased from £170Bn in 2016 to £184 Bn, we are seeing stagging growth in jobs and a new start up every 50 seconds in th e UK. In 2017 UK VC investment exceeded Germany, France and Sweden combined (and even the Rest of Europe). And investment doubled from ~£4bn to just under £8Bn.
There is, globally, a race for tech talent and that continues, London ranks 3rd in latest tech startup ecosystem rankings. Talent is a global race so Scotland aren’t competing with London, they are competing with Austin Texas, or LA… The UK accounts for 13 of Europes Unicorns, with a combined value of about $13 Bn – about 37% of European value. The UK is Europe’s second biggest source of capital in Europe. Many UK tech unicorns are driven through algorithmic control, attracting specialist high paying jobs. When we look at pay levels, the more tech skills you have, the more those jobs pay.
The top 400 UK meetups (Glasgow is a top 10 meet up city with 12,000 members) highlight emerging trends: and they are AI and Blockchain are quickly taking centre stage – and Edinburgh and Glasgow are at the forefront here, especially after the announcement of the new Blockchain incubator at Edinburgh University.
UK tech communities value quality of life, proximity to universities… Women are outnumbered 4 to 1 in digital tech companies. We just launched a new initiative with JP Morgan to increase the number of female tech founders.
The Scottish tech sector is growing quickly with £3.9Bn value to the economy. And different cities face different challenges – for instance in Cambridge the top challenge is Brexit.  Read more in the full report.
Innovation to drive growth for all – Professor Charlie Jeffrey, Vice Principal, Edinburgh University.
In a nutshell the City Region Deal is 6 local authorities, business, universities, and college developing plan for investment in economic growth support by: 2 governments; 20 July 2017 Heads of Terms signed. We have positioned innovation as the driver of economic growth in the region, and a significant theme is that this is inclusive – that growth is for all, including affordable housing, transport infrastructure, and skills – which is where we are particularly concerned.
Edinburgh has a comparative advantage for Data Innovation as an ecosystem through the University of Edinburgh School of Informatics – one of the best in the world and has been for some time. After Informatics’ devastating fire – a sensitive topic here in Glasgow right now but something good came out of this – it was reshaped, they rethought what they do and could do and recognising the skills and talents of those coming through Informatics – there is a real talent flow. And Informatics Ventures came out of this. Then, secondly we have sophisticated tech business incubator/adoption/funding system: the UK’s biggest incubator CodeBase, DataLab, and Engage Invest Exploit. And thirdly we have strong government backing. Scottish Enterprise investment in the School of Informatics – £270 M and further contribution taking it a half billion of investment in skills.
Since 2005 we’ve seen the growth of new unicorns, new start ups, incubators, and R&D capability in Edinburgh of big tech players including Microsoft, Disney research etc. We want to replicate and scale. And we want to become the Data Capital of Europe, and things like the Weyra incubator for Blockchain are a part of that huge interest. That’s all very good but that work we are talking about is disruptive – for places, for employment, for demographics. Gerard talked about the lack of women in tech, we need to address that kind of inequality – how can education ensure girls make the subject choices to take them into those careers for instance. We think of this as data citizens, data workers, and data professionals.
The skills part of City Deal is an 8 year programme. How can we ensure that the 121,000 school leavers over that time come out with better skills than they otherwise would? We think so. For instance the newly build Newbattle High School, in one of the poorest parts of Midlothian, is working with us closely to ensure the currciulum builds data and tech in across the board. Its a pilot but if it works – and we think it will – we can scale it. We are working with colleges on building data skills into the curriculum and alternative routes such as apprenticeships. We have models like “data ambassadors” – how can we scale these ideas, this building of data skills to hard to reach groups? And how can we drive adoption of data technologies – we are working with DataLab and Interface here. Small businesses are weak in adaptation to the data economy – they won’t be tech business but their productivity could be enhanced by engagement with data. Can we do something here? Yes, we think we can.
We are coming up to the announcement of the final details of City Deal. My first meeting was in 2015. We’ve had a lot of meetings with government, local authorities, private companies, etc. We have built relationships and are ready to truly work collaboratively.
Why are we talking about Edinburgh and South East Scotland? Well there was a territorial opportunity, but all of these ideas are applicable nationally or internationally. None of this is bound by the geography of this deal. There is an international capability here.
Questions and discussion
Alistair Gunn (AG): Tech Nation are national… Charlie it was good to hear that the opportunities that are not bounded. Gerard do you want to talk about these changes recently and the bigger changes.
GG: When you talk to big companies like GE, you ask “how do you look at the world” they’d say “talent hubs” – they’d say San Francisco, New York, London, Chennai… That these are hubs of talent and technology. But projects cannot be geographically bound – opportunities may be in Bangalore or Chennai… You have to make a city as welcoming as possible and have to combine UK talent with talent from across the world. And the technologies and skills may not be in your locality – that may be in China. Skyscanner are passionate about bringing that mindset in from across the world.
AG: I’ve seen that accellerators are starting to measure success not by number of start ups but by number of international companies attracted.
AH: It depends on your aims. We wanted public services being done in a different way. The physical space was extremely important – bringing civil servants out of their day to day location and into a new space that enabled culture change, co-locating at CodeBase, bringing our companies in. This wasn’t some weekend course – this is a six month immersive experience. And that’s why Sepa change their procurement process. You see real change. The government of the twenty first century is very different. You have places like Dubai opening their services, if we don’t we’ll be left behind. Charlie talked about that collaboration across sectors – that will create talent, improve services, and attract investment opportunities.
AG: You talked about Data Lab, coming out of a University and thinking with a service design perspective… That’s building talent…
CJ: Talking of boundaries… Perhaps the biggest boundary is between Edinburgh and Glasgow. We are so close together yet we tend to look in different directions… We should be thinking about collaboration in that frame. The FinTech sector is across both cities for instance, if we have capabilities we should collaborate to realise all those potential benefits.
AG: And that’s a good place to finish I think, that need to think internationally and compete globally.
SESSION 4: INFRASTRUCTURE:  Scottish Wide Area Network (SWAN), Masterclass by Capita


  • Mike MacDonald (MM), Head of Digital & Innovation, Capita, 
  • Toni Gribben (TG), Scotland Manager, Cisco
  • Anne Moises (AM)
MM: I get to look at all the cool and new stuff that happens on the SWAN network. A quick recap on SWAN: SWAN was born out o f the McClelland Report in 2011 that recommended shared services and SWAN has saved Scottish Government about £30m. We have 6000 sites across 50 organisations providing bandwidth up to 10 Gbps. We have 250 unbundled exchanges providing cost effective connectivity closer to customers across the length and breadth of Scotland. It’s a huge network which includes local authorities, NHS Scotland, SQA, Forestry Commission, etc.

We have been running 4 years, and we have choices to make – to further connect Scotland, further reduce cost, be technology focused and connected or; to align to digital strategy and connect the technology with that strategy. That latter path is the interesting one for us to take now.

The Scottish Government digital strategy for scotland talks abuot the new digital economy, digital public services, skills, connectivity, cyber security, data and innovation, participation. We have connectivity but we’ve also helped be a cornerstone customer to help push out fibre to new locations and we are happy to do that. We have that top level strategy, but there are also sectorial strategies in Scotland with different needs – so we need to address those differing but related strategic needs. When you look at these, when you look at highly varied technology adoption levels, how do we cater to all of those needs.

We’ve focused on areas with real potential impact: smart healthcare, digital education, data based outcomes, health and social care integration. And we are looking analytics – offering stuff like Titration on a Software As A Service basis at a more affordable level. We see lots of IoT on SWAN, and its all about the data and insights you derive from that. But we have question marks here… About what you need.

The way we want to bring this together is in the SWAN Marketplace. This is bringing together SMEs right up to big multinationals. We are in conversation with Procurement Scotland so we can see how we provide opportunities for SMEs to sell their services and products through the SWAN marketplace. For instance Ajenta came out of the Janet network, as any-to-any teleconferencing. You can bridge connections across legacy conferencing kit through to Skype for Business. They also own the “Push Doctor” as well – and they are actively looking to make that available through us. We are doing a formal launch of vscene 2.0 with these folk next week – do come along.

We see a lot of interest in IoT. We talk about Smart City, Town, Community… We like to think about Smart Scotland. I’ll talk about some examples here. In the highlands they have a big challenge around water. Local authorities have to test the water every month for temperature. That’s usually one person in a van taking measurements. So we’ve put sensors in place to enable that testing to take place more efficiently. And we’ve also put a gateway in place in Angus for use by SEPA.

AM: I am absolutely delighted to be here to make an announcement. We are announcing a proposal – still to be formally agreed by the SWAN management board – for Phase 1 of the IoT enablement of SWAN, for int the region of 50 LoRaWAN Gateways, courtesy of CISCO. Expanding on our pilots, and we are starting from the outside in, from the more rural areas of Scotland, rather than starting in the easier to do cities. We will be learning and developing and scaling up. This is back to the origins of SWAN – as a starting point for innovation, and more than a network. Coverage is being driven by Public Sector IoT projects, and is conjunction with Public Sector customers, CENSIS, Innovation Partners and SMEs to stimulate the market. This is funded from SWAN Innovation Fund. And, once confirmed, it will begin roll out in the summer. There is an accompanying press release – just now.

TG: I am country manager for CISCO in Scotland. We are based in San Jose and we offer software services worth around $50Bn. We pride ourselves on delivering innovation. I’m going to describe LoRaWAN, some case studies, and an additional ask before you leave. CISCO sees IoT as the combination of people, process, information and things. Less than 1% of connectable “things” are connected to the internet. By 2020 estimates vary between there being 15Bn and 50Bn connected things by 2020. That’s a huge opportunity for all of us in this room.

Our previous chief executive was a visionary around IoT, and from that we lead the development of LoRaWAN – Long Range Wide Area Network – connectivity. Never has it been more prevalent that we are connected. We use blue tooth, 3G, 4G and increasingly 5G. The beauty of LoRaWAN is that it takes only low energy and a low data rate to connect to the network. Sensors can give you 5 years worth of power. You implement it once, then leave for 5 years. It’s low cost, runs on unlicensed spectrum, and one gateway can handle up to 10k devices. It’s hugely exciting for all of us.

In terms of use cases… There are 12 listed here and 10 are in place now already: water and gas metering, street lighting, smart building, smart parking, tracking, leak detection and irrigation, water level and flood management, fault management, smoke detectors, smart energy and fast demand response, waste management, traffic management. These represent huge cost savings in waste management and water management for instance. But this takes culture and process change and you need to be open to that.

SESSION 5: SKILLS: A digitally skilled nation

  • Donald McLaughlin (DM), Technology Sector Business Leader and Chair of Scotland’s Digital Technologies Skills Group; 
  • Kirsten Urquhart (KU), Digital & Smart-Tech Director, Young Scot;
  • Joshua Ryan-Saha (JRS), Skills Manager, The Data Lab.
  • Chaired by: Melinda Matthews Clarkson (MMC), Chief Executive, CodeClan.
MM: We are here to talk about skills, so it’s a chance to go wild with all those questions you’ve been building up.
JRS: I am the Skills Manager at Data Lab, developing data skills across Scotland.
KU: I work at Young Scot and, whilst you might be familiar with our discount card, we also engage directly with young people involving them in skills, service design, etc.
DM: The Digital Technologies Skills Group and we work with various organisations – including CodeClan.
MM: Every session I’ve been in has a skills dimension. We have 1200 unfilled roles in Scotland with a tech dimension… How do we address that? How do we boost GDP through skills development. Lets start with young people.
KU: For us working with young people, we try to talk about digital as not being the end point – not just coding, digital, cyber, but instead digital as an element in arts, creativity, transport. How do we focus on problem solving, creativity and softer skills that ready them for that work. A gendered element comes in here as well, in terms of understanding what tech skills are.
MM: Is there any job that doesn’t involve digital skills?
DM: Absolutely not. Those 12800 unfilled jobs are specifically in tech but that demand is growing, and exists outside the tech sector. To make Scotland economially successgul we need to bring the tech sector to life, to reinforce the appeal of these careers, the creative and problem solving aspects.
JRS: We face real challenges here: we face Brexit so need home grown talent if access to the European talent pool reduces. And we need tech skills across professions, including hardcore coding skills. We have to address head on the sheer quantity of computing teachers – there is a third of what was there 5 years ago, and that wasn’t enough then. So how can we increase that, and make those roles attractive.
DM: And doing that doens’t event address those skills across the board – all teachers should be digitally skilled so that is part of inspiring young people across the board.
JRS: Creative sector is really interesting – Scotland has a competitive advantage in games and that’s cretive and digital.
MM: There are jobs and opportunities… So why don’t we have those skills?
KU: I think it’s a confidence thing for many people. We talked about softer skills… We need to change the language a bit, we need to upskill, we need to bolster that confidence…
MM: That goes to the gender issue.
DM: The tech sector has an 80:20 split between male and female workers. There is some bias and unconcious bias about what the tech sector is, what the work looks like. We need more role models in tech and digital – careers, job satisfaction. And we need metaskills – not just coding but computational thinking, creative thinking, ability to work in teams… If we focus on that… Half of the jobs people will do in 20 years haven’t been invented yet – we need broader reusable skills. And I think that will help bring women into the sector.
MM: How do we change that image – marketing or?
JRS: In Scotland we have Swift, we have GirlGeekScotland, we see great stuff everyday. There are specific things we can do too. At Heriot Watt we’ve created a two year data science conversion course – normally for that sort of MSc you need computing background so this course gets you up to speed and then focuses in. In the Met Police they intervened to improve the diversity of police officers, looking critically at every stage – we should do that with colleges, universities etc. Charlie Jeffreys spoke about making Edinburgh the Data Capital of Europe and I think we should make it the best place for women to work in tech – having leaders like you Melinda, or like our CEO Gillian, really helps.
DM: Having those visible role models will help generate excitement in the sector.
KU: I think we have to work with parents and carers around removing stigmas around less traditional learner journeys – not always taking a university route. Apprenticeships and internships can be great for young people to get into this.
MM: Graduates from CodeClan won’t have “5 year” skills, what can we do for next level skills…
DM: I think rather than saying 5 years or 10 years coding skills, we look at diversity – of gender, of age but also of background – into the workplace, To be sustainable we need to think differently about the talent pool. And we need the talent pool to be much more flexible and prepared for industry.
JRS: We have to think about how we support learning and training continuously. Everything changes so quickly – all the predictions see the ability to learn as the key skill for the future. We may also need more risk in hiring. We need more support for training… And i think Scotland is in a great place to do this.
MM: When we look at all the universities training… We have 1000 graduates per year… But we have 12800 empty roles. I think we need marketing and localised examples that show tech is fun and exciting to work on… Who would you pick as a role model?
KU: For me it has to be achievable. So I think it would be young people who’ve come through our programme and had great outcomes from Modern Apprenticeships.
DM: In some ways the best role models are the less known people. Apprenticeships can be brilliant to see the skills pipeline coming through. We need young women role models – not neccassarily CEOs but those working in the sector with great careers.
KU: I think that role models who are women with families, young children etc. would be really helpful as so many role models right now are quite different.
Q1) What do you think about traditional degree programmes as they are structured?
A1 – JRS) I think we’ve seen real lack of investment by the private sector in their own staff and skills. We need apprenticeships. We need in-work training. And there need to be a variety of models – e.g. training for those returning to work after having children. There needs to be more investment by the public and private sector.
A1 – KU) That model would work for us as a small charity – the space to train and develop skills.
A1 – DM) There needs a rebalancing of HE and FE and skills and lifelong learning. I think all universities and colleges funding should be conditional on supporting lifelong learning.
A1 – MM) Scotland has the most amazing funding model for higher education. I would change it around so that its free if you are studying degrees that Scotland truly needs. Anyone can study, but you go for free if you are fulfilling a real skills challenge. Invest in the skills you need to grow…
A1 – JRS) I can see that we do need as many people trained up in software engineering etc. as possible. But actually in data science we need people with social sciences and creative backgrounds… We need to incentivise technical skills but we don’t want to penalise subjects with a real impact on working and ethically.
A1 – MM) Maybe that’s about embedding digital skills in social science degrees?
A1 – JRS) Actually in Edinburgh University and Edinburgh Napier University will be doing that under that City Region Deal actually.
Q2) My daughter had almost no computing teaching – she had computing classes in year 1 and 2 but when it came to options it wasn’t even there. And data understanding and analysis wasn’t there across the curriculum. I spoke to computing teachers about what was actually happening in class – no social media as RM won’t allow that, they had students breaking through firewalls… These people will be working for Google and Amazon, etc. they should be encouraged to break through firewalls!
A2 – MM) Social isolation is a real risk and actually social media and community are a key part of educating people with the useful digital skills, especially older people.
Q3) Why isn’t there excitement about data analysis? It’s hard to explain, it’s hard to do., it’s boring.. And those salaries shown earlier aren’t representative.
A3 – JRS) I don’t think it’s boring at all – it’s problem solving and making real change! Those salaries are what we see graduates of data science MScs attracting.
A3 – MM) Data based decision making is key across sectors, even if it’s backing up gut feelings.
A3 – JRS) We need more data literacy across the board, but gut feeling and decisions do come into it… And we have to bride that human and data literacy.

As a final note on this session I’d remind readers of our Digital Footprint MOOC, a free self-led online course which covers managing your digital footprint and encourages critical thinking about social media, privacy and personal data. You can find it on Coursera here: https://www.coursera.org/learn/digital-footprint.

And with that we are (slightly abruptly) done for the day. Thanks to the organisers for a stimulating day of discussion and networking. 


Jun 062018

Today I’m at the University of Edinburgh Moray House Making Research Visible event, where I’m delighted to have been asked to give the opening keynote this morning. Once that’s done I’ll be liveblogging the day (with all the usual caveats – do send me any corrections, edits, additions, etc.).

Welcome (Do Coyle)

I’d like to welcome you to this morning’s event which I think is really exciting. When I looked at the programme I saw “what happens if you Google yourself?”, so I did… And there was a photo with the most ugly necklace! It’s levitous but these are things we need to think about…

I want to thank Jen Ross for all her work today. She emphasised that it was as much about celebrating what we do – which is so important – as it is thinking about what we should or could do.

I’m Do Coyle and I’m director of Research Knowledge Exchange in Moray House. I’m relatively new here, but I’m surrounded by amazing people and teams. And by chance we have a brand new RKO office, led by Simon with Greg and Lilleth supported by Roz and David. New office, new times, and a huge thank you for Jen as she comes to the end of her

Nicola Osborne – ‘Curating an Effective Digital Research Footprint’

I was giving this presentation so I’m afraid no notes here. But my slides are included below:


Holly Linklater – ‘Making Inclusion Visible: We Make a Film to Show How We Make a School’

I’m going to talk to you about a project we’ve been doing over the last year, funded by an ESRC Impact grant. It was to bring together conversations between my work on inclusion and agency and my colleague Natasha’s work in agency and inclusion, as well as school perspectives. And we particularly wanted to think about “hard to reach families”. The school is a large school in Cambridge, it’s in the city and very diverse and international (47 languages) and socioeconomically diverse student population. And the school was aware that the way that they do things is not necessarily how you’d expect schools to do things, your expectations from the culture or country or context you are coming from. We wanted to do a project that connected up all these different forms of knowledge.

We decided we wanted to make a film as we wanted to create something sharable, and to really engage with parents who so often are looking at their phones in the playground – to get them to look up! But we also wanted to engage trainee teachers, those engaging in CPD around learning. So it needed to be a short film. We had a survey and interviews, workshops in the school, to really make sure we were working in partnership with the schools.

We started with thinking about “What is it that I know?” – using the knowledge already there, and bringing the research and clarity of research to that. The school knew that the way I concluded my arguements was genuinely from the work with that school – there was trust, and they recognised themselves in that work. The head said “I’d never have said that in that way, but I recognise what we do in that work”. By delightful coincidence – and it was a coincidence – a parent in the school is a director who makes CBeebies Hettie Feather, we totally couldn’t afford her… We massively underestimated what was involved. Then I made friends with Neil at ECA to find out what materials I could borrow for free for this (lots!), and Chloe, our director, found students in Anglia Ruskin who were up for film making and mainly had advertising focus but were keen to do other things, and wanted to work for Chloe. So they got some CPD, and we got great people involved.

We were aware of the sensitivities of not everyone wanting to be in the video, and privacy sensitivities, so we focused on what it is to make a mini cardboard school – to animate children’s stories from interviews to collect core data. But in fact what happened was that everyone wanted to be in the film, really wanted to be in the film. We had four 12 hour days of filming! But we stuck to our guns of a 10 minute film, and it’s been really exciting and engagement in the school, the children have a real sense of ownership. The film is called “We Make a School”.

We asked teachers, students and parents about trust, relationships and support, to draw out themes and then we show that and link that across the film in quite a light touch way, and in the words of the people from the school.

I want to finish with an email that came in today from the Deputy Head of the School – the school board are delighted and excited to know what’s next – including CPD programmes for teachers to look at working together to make an inclusive school community.

Ailsa Niven & Shaun Phillips – ‘Using Animation to Make Research Visible: Can Academics do this Easily and Effectively?’

Ailsa: We want to talk about how we might use animation in a way that is accessible, easy and effective and we were funded by a CAS grant to do this. We are all very mindful of our pathways to Impact, and find Morton (2015) approach of Uptake>Use>Impact very useful. And we wanted to find effective ways for our audience to find and uptake our research, and we wanted creative ways to do this.

We know the adage that a picture paints a thousand words: a 5000 word article won’t be read and engaged with by many of our key stakeholders. But we were well aware that web videos were great to reach stakeholders. Shaun and I attended the 2D Animation course from the IAD and I’m shamelessly borrowing their stats: online videos will be 80% of web traffic by 2020; 8 billion videos are viewed every day on Facebook; and videos have to be short or they won’t be watched.

And publishers are engaging. Taylor & Francis now promote video abstracts. And the video “How to get kids moving”, in my research area, got lots of attention. And just last week JOVE offered to make us a video of our research for $2800. But we thought we could do this ourselves, with the key aim of making our research on race running accessible and effective.

Shaun: Race running is particularly useful for neurological impairment, including cerebral palsy. It uses a kind of bike that you’ll see in the video to provide balance and support. So, to communicate that we had our research associate look at available softwares – some easy to use and free, some complex or overspecc’d, some less flexible and some more, some not as appropriate for academic use. We looked at pros and cons and decided on Powtoon. Why? It was a reasonable price (~$500), it’s professional and modern looking, it’s relatively easy to use – you can storyboard to make production easier. That storyboarding is really important to being efficient with your time and getting your message across. It is voice-over enabled. Can import own images and can embed videos.

So, we recruited an RA to lead creation. We clarified the focus and target audience – we wanted to raise awareness of race running and also disseminate existing research finding on the activity as well. It was two aims but we wanted to keep the video short – that was challenging. We storyboarded the story. That preparation makes the video much more easy and productive to make. Then we revised again and again and again – more than we expected for such a short video! We are now at that stage, the next step is stakeholder feedback – and then more revision. Then we’ll finalise and disseminate.

Best thing to do is to show you a short section of the animation. (It looks really good!)

So reflections here… It is possible to develop the skills required to create animations with some time investment – more than we thought – and some pre-existing skills.

Ailsa: Links with creative teaching and assessment methods – we are reusing the skills and resources in teaching, students really enjoy it.

Shaun: Further evaluation of our animation is needed to determine effectiveness. And we are moving forward with either up-skilling and use of these resources.

Shari Sabeti – ‘Embedding the Visual Arts Throughout the Research Process’

This project, the Mashallese Arts Project was exploring forced displacement of children and families from the Marshall Islands, working in the Marshall Islands and Hawaii. So, as background, the US undertook extensive cold war era nuclear testing on Bikini ad Enewetak; fall out of Utirik and Rongelap. The people were evacuated from Bikini, told that the testing was good of mankind, and was much more powerful than expected, three times more than Hiroshima. And the fall out effected islands that had not been evacuated, with some locations rendered uninhabited for 30,000 years. There is still use of Kwajalein as a ballistic missile testing base. That was agreed to under a Compact of Free Association (1986) – giving free migration rights to the US as exchange/compensation for giving up land rights and claims against the US. At the same time the Marshall Islands are also at risk of disappearance due to climate change.

The Marshallese culture was based on parcels of land, so we were interested to understand how that changes when people are displaced. We also wanted to look at the potential of indigenous art movements/artists to encourage senses of confidence and pride in heritage. This was also about the impact of textbooks, materials from the US and Asia, and scope for Marshallese materials given that there are now 9000 Marshallese people in Hawaii.

Our method was to nest art educators in the project based in schools. We had three participatory workshops on performance poetry, mural painting and photography. These were also research activities, about belonging, displacement, and things that matter to them in their lives. The outputs generated materials for the community and for understanding these experiences. The children wrote poems, and then the murals were based on the poetry. We worked in various areas including Ejit, where direct descendants of Bikini islanders live – in fact the school t-shirt shows the mushroom cloud and the Bible – reflecting that sense of having been told that their island was being given up for the good of mankind. In Honolulu the murals looked different – the teacher didn’t want writing/graffiti – so the artist created outlines and the children contributed.

So, the research connecting to what is visible… This mural designed by the artist talks about Aloha as “hello” but really “you are in the presence of another’s breath (another living creature or consciousness)”; IAKWE – a Marshallese greeting meaning “You are beautiful, like a rainbow”. So the continuous faces and the brow becomes a rainbow – “a kind of collective orgasm”.

We did get press coverage – we “had things to take photos of as research” so it was a press friendly thing. We have shared the texts, a map of materials, and we have a graphic adaptation from one of Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner. And we now want to take things forward – we have a CAS impact grant to follow this more and develop this on. The college knowledge exchange grant is about making sure people actually use these things – not just to have things be usable, but make sure they are useful. I am limited by funding because the flight from Edinburgh to Honolulu is £800, but from Honolulu to the Marshall Islands is £1200. So we are going out to Hawaii to work with schools to make sure this is used, and to ensure this feeds into the curriculum in the region.

Just thinking about your talk and social media earlier Nicola, in the pacific everyone uses Facebook for everyone. Even in the Ministry of Education – no answer to email, but send them a Facebook message and instant response. It is the space to engage. It was the opposite of my normal practice. But if you gave them a USB stick they wouldn’t use it. But I know the government has increased the tariffs on wifi and mobile data so that raises new problems about engaging and access. That use of social media in the global south can be so problematic.

Michael Sean Gallagher – ‘Near Future Teaching and Shaping Education Futures: Social Media as Communication and Data Collection’

This is about the Near Future Teaching project, led by Sian Bayne with myself and Jennifer Williams at IAD, with a much wider group engaged. This project is futures research, so about the “possible, probable and preferable” (Facer and Sanford 2010). And not all futures work is dystopian – at least they don’t need to be.

So we are working together to co-design the futures of teaching at Edinburgh. We performed vox pops about “what values shape how we change?”, “how does technology impact your study, teaching, or research?” and how should we shape the future at the University.

We have undertaken research and Sian and I created two documents to distil the key issues on Future teaching trends. This is the basis for our research. We had a series of events around campus in 2017 and 2018, using topics like Block Chain to then start wider discussions on the future of digital education – seeing how these issues trigger and force discussion on the future of Higher Education. We then undertook interviews and focus groups with staff and students. The range of who we spoke to included about 100 staff, about 100 students and 9 alumni. That was then distilled into a series of very short thematic videos – extracting those emerging themes. Some were direct responses to our questions, some were not but revealed key themes, such as “too much tech”, “automation”, “ways of learning”, “distance”. Those videos are drivers for subsequent activities.

We then entered into 2 different workshops, again playing to the Facer and Stanford notion of “critique the assumption that there is an inevitable future to which we must simply adapt or resist”. So we created cards and materials imagining future worlds. Some of those were quite out there – like the quantified future where we imagined a deceased student graduation by virtue of never having logged out! And then we had design workshops to build those ideas and visions.

Communication was key to these events. We had Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – the latter most viable probably as our work was very visual. We also used Padlet to get contributions – with mixed success. But really it was about how all of this allows for a strategy to emerge. So we had future world scenarios, future education scenarios, and future University of Edinburgh scenarios.

So, lessons learned. With social media you have to be ready to course correct. We were using Storify… It was relatively good but has shut down mid project. So, you have to be flexible about what you use and see yourself using. Also a larger cultural history of these spaces – you can extract the data but you lose the cultural context of that data. Use cautiously. And you have to think about how the medium shapes the message, how these media interact, and needing to have a coherent dialogue there, and course corrections as needed.


Q1) How did the workshops and the social media engagement intersect or shape each other?

A1) The design workshops were invited, and largely represented the students and staff who had been interviewed.

Q2) How often has an issue like Storify arisen, and how did it disrupt the work?

A2) It does happen, it forces course correction. It took part of a week to course correct. I try to use multiple channels to allow options. Storify was more a writing than a data problem, as it was about capturing what was taking place.

Q2) That is a barrier for newbies… Does it have a shelf life?

A2) That shelf life thing is a big issue. I think about shelf life when I pick channels… But you need to have a contingency plan.

Divya Sivaramakrishnan – ‘What I Learnt from Organising a Yoga Knowledge Exchange Event’

I’m going to talk about organising a yoga knowledge exchange event, and particularly working with illustrator. My PhD work is about developing and evaluating a yoga intervention for older adults in Scotland. As it turns out it’s more developing than evaluating. I had research findings already: I’d done a systematic review and evidence of benefits of yoga, and wanted to communicate and share that.

So, at the event we had presentations of the evidence, and opportunities to capture data from the participants, and we had a live illustrator capturing discussions into visuals. For instance the Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy at UoE use illustration a lot. My illustrator was Josie (studiojojo.com) and I found her through word of mouth. If you look at e.g. chrisshipton.co.uk you can see some helpful guidance on the possibilities for live illustration.

So, the output includes discussion of the research and reflections on benefits and opportunities. Josie created a huge physical diagram, also a digital copies. And she also gave me small key aspects that can be used elsewhere – memorable comments and advice.

The Scottish Collaboration for Public Health Research and Policy at UoE have also used postcards, bookmarks etc. to disseminate their live illustrations from workshops etc. And another possible format – a comic book called “Cathy’s Relaxation Story” to share (non live) illustrations, an accessible takeaway guide.

How was this useful? It added zing to the event and produced beautiful material that can be used in the future. I used this material in my report of the event. It’s great for social media. I’ve used it in all my posters and presentations. It will be in my thesis. And it’s also marvellous office decoration!

How to get the best out of this process? You should really have an idea of what you want. Or you can leave it up to the illustrator – and that might mean you get great images, but you can also end up with side comments/less relevant things, or cute pictures without content. I didn’t have a clear focus and I got great things out but I would have a clearer idea next time.

Think about how you are going to use this illustration process, how you will use the output, etc. to help you get the best out of this.

Quick discussion and themes raised there:

  • Can we combine live illustration and animation
  • Sometimes illustration not looking like your expectation can be very helpful and very useful. Can draw new things out to explore.

James Lamb – ‘The Manifesto for Teaching Online’

Nice to have the chance to talk today about making research visual and visible. I feel the case has been made for images, video and visual… I hope to add something different. I want to talk about the video I prepared for the manifesto for teaching online. I want to talk about making research visible and visual, but also use the filmmaking and visuals to actually to make the point we are talking about.

We live in a visual age and we see changes in the visual, and I think we can see the trajectory of the visual through the development of mobile phones. My 1998 Nokia was designed for the spoken world, the language driven world, and up to 20 texts. My modern phone is a sophisticated computer in my pocket and it’s about sharing gifs and memes, and much more visual. Society is becoming more visual and our research needs to keep up with this.

The Manifesto for Teaching Online originated in 2011, and was revisited in 2016. It makes 21 key statements and provocations about teaching online. In each manifesto it has been communicated with websites, postcards, etc. And for each iteration I’ve made a video – an opportunity to do this through text and visuals and video and languages. And that is a real opportunity. Text has been troubled: many modes matter in representing academic knowledge. Jewitt (2008) encourages us to think about true multimodality. Remixing digital content redefines authorship – this video is a form of mashup (as Cathy Fitzpatrick (2011) would put it). I am remixing academic knowledge through the format itself.

And that’s my prompt to play the video…

What about the audience and reaction? Nancy Heath wrote about it in Internet Learning, 5(1). Justin Marquis provided comment. But others’ critical reaction (e.g. Keller 2012) suggests that the video has been seen but not always engaged with, responded to – it has been seen. We see it shared on Twitter. The video is portable across sites and online. But the video has worked for us in (1) making the case for our work and (2) extending the audience for our work beyond the print based form. As the manifesto says itself “Many modes matter”.


Q1) Where did the statements come from? It’s interesting how it distilled down.

A1 – Jen Ross) It was developed from an internally funded Principal’s Teaching Award Scheme projects. And now we revisit it when everything changes. We made statements, reviewed, argued, etc.

A1 – James) It is provocative – we get comments, reactions, remixes, cartoons, texts etc. We are writing a book and journal article about that now. And that’s important as it is intended to provoke and engage.

Lucy Hunter Blackburn – ‘Combining Old and New Media’

So, a little background to who I am and why I’m here. I’m a post graduate researcher at Moray House working on student funding. I t. started out as a freelance researcher. I was writing big analysis of public data, with a story that I felt needed wider attention. So I wanted to share that and get it out there… I have a poster that will show you the various things I have done and how they connect. I wanted to reflect on what I have learned from working across these media, and how they interrelate. I want to talk about the visual as well as the audio.

So I want to start with the conventional media and conventional engagement. The conventional media – once you are in a journalist’s phone, they will contact you again. They all work to tight deadlines, they’ll come to you with stuff that is relevant, and sometimes least relevant. One of the tricks of conventional media is to know when to say “no”. BUT… You have to get in there in the first place… I started out by being cheeky, asking around… But once you are there you get visible, you are on people’s radar.

But now, there is also social media. You may have a lively community online through web magazines. I had a blog as first because I needed somewhere to put that big analysis and that’s how I’ve used it over the years… Writing about data… And social media interacts with the conventional media… They find you, you find them, you can have a discussion. Fun memes get all sorts of views… Visual things are very powerful. And none of the visual things I do compromise what I do in my research. But I started doing this was a friend dared me that “you shouldn’t do graphs, it’s all kittens now”. I put out as a joke a kitten with essentially my PhD strapline: “I wish people cared about student funding as much as they talk about free tuition”.

From my experience I haven’t felt unsafe on social media – and I say quite controversial things about policy. And having the blog available means I can point to evidence. These channels interact, they play together. Don’t think of them as being in single boxes… They are all one single way to communicate.

Some lessons from the conventional media: they matter; say “no” when you have to; but say “yes” when you can. And don’t be precious – be confident in expressing your messages concisely and compressed in what you say – without pages of footnotes. Know how to summarise with integrity. Listen to yourself, watch yourself, and learn… It’s horrible to do but important. When you write for the media look at how you are edited – and learn from that. When talking with journalists, a lot of time is not about your name in the paper… And often you are just explaining for half an hour, a source of advice. If you are trusted, they will play nice with you. I find it hugely rewarding and haven’t had bad experiences. Social media has been hugely useful for research links – it pushes you to go places you don’t normally go. The visual stuff encourages you to play – and that is good. And I find on Twitter that students share experiences on Twitter. I wouldn’t use that in my research, but that contributes to my deeper understanding, to discover things I didn’t know, links to articles, links from the community, and knowing how to engage with being argued at and cope with that. But they all stick together, they all play off each other. I only got invited to write a chapter for a book for Scots interested in policy was because I was visible in the media and on Twitter. Almost everything is connected.

Jen: Lucy was awarded “Wonk of the Year” for her blog last year.


Q1) Is there a place you go to find images that are free to go?

A1) I use image searches and try to look for copyright… But I’m not a great example. Sometimes I’m sent people’s own kittens to use… I encourage you to use Copyright free imagery.

Comment) Use Flickr to look at appropriate licenses, or use Creative Commons website to find other sites and searches.

Group discussion & summary feedback

Jen: Thank you so much again for all of our speakers today. It has been everything I had hoped for! For the last 20 minutes I would like people to think about these questions:

  1. What kinds of visibility does your own research have? What does it need?
  2. What ideas and questions have been sparked by the talks today?
  3. To feed back to the full group: two key things your group would tell someone who hadn’t attended today.


  • There are so many different ways to make research visible, so many formats: look at good examples and use what works for you.
  • I really appreciated having so many different speakers and so much knowledge in their areas – that knowledge exchange is so valuable.
  • Variety is great. Visual presentation can be playful and achievable – we need to think less about text and do new things.
  • You usually don’t think about making research visible early in your career, but these amazing things can integrate into research and combining visibility with data – can start right now already!
  • Illustration can be really useful with ethically sensitive age groups and vulnerable groups – an imaginative way to represent that work. Be aware of copyright, fair use, plagiarism – credit visuals, sound etc. as we would text. For impact look beyond viewing and download figures but actually think about impact – what does that mean? Did they watch it all? What did they take away?
  • How can we enable more people to understand the potential; and what the next step is – mapping connections, support, and what’s available. I wish everyone in the School of Education had been here!

Jen: I had a final thought…

We work in the most inspiring and exciting part of this amazing university. Your research matters to our disciplines and fields and also to wider publics. Boldness, creativity and a willingness to engage can take us a long way. We also need time, support, encouragement (and funding) to make our research visible. So, onwards and upwards!

 June 6, 2018  Posted by at 10:41 am Uncategorized No Responses »