FutureScot An independent publication from futurescot.com
Dermot Turing on SolarBerry in Africa
Registers of Scotlandâ€™s digital future
Forget 0s and 1s
How fractions could light up the Internet
Distributed with The Times Scotland 28 September 2016
Uber: riding out to a town near you
New York summer for Glasgow startup
FutureScot FutureScot is an independent publication by BrandScotland. CONTENTS
2 BRIEFING. 5 INTERNET OF THINGS. 6 EDUCATION.
28 September 2016
3D ‘atlas’ of human body published
Physical book generates holograms
9 REGISTERS OF SCOTLAND. 10 UBER. 11 COVER STORY.
BY WILLIAM PEAKIN
12 DIGITAL SCOTLAND.
Visualisation company Holoxica has created the world’s first holographic 3D digital human anatomy atlas, allowing teaching hospitals, medical schools, colleges and research centres a unique view of intricate anatomical structures. The atlas is a collaboration between Holoxica and Professor Gordon Findlater, Professor of Translation Anatomy at Edinburgh University’s School of Biomedical Sciences. The atlas is a book, with physical pages that you can turn, and an integrated light. The light is used to
14 VR, AR & AI. 17 HEALTH. 18 INVESTMENT. 19 LEGAL.
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bring out the holographic images in full-colour 3D. The hologram is explained on the opposite page using conventional 2D illustrations. The image data used to create the atlas has been sourced from CT, MRI, ultrasound scans and specially created 3D models to replicate a true three-dimensional understanding of the underlying anatomy. Dr Javid Khan, Holoxica’s chief executive, said that biomedical science now has access to a tool which gives trainee surgeons and clinicians a fresh perspective into identifying, diagnosing and treating a wide range of conditions like never before. “Medical students have often struggled with a deeper understanding of the relative positioning of complex anatomical structures. This is the level of pinpoint accuracy and detailed precision which the 3D digital atlas offers.” Holoxica hopes the atlas will be used by universities around the world as a teaching aid for first and second year medical and anatomy students. For them, the challenge is understanding the true 3D nature of the underlying anatomy, so solving this issue will save considerable time and effort.
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Image data has been sourced from CT, MRI, ultrasound scans
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An app to predict earthquakes Geosciences and informatics combine A smartphone app could allow people living in some of the world’s worst earthquake hotspots to know whether their homes are at risk of collapse. The digital platform being developed at the University of Edinburgh would capture data from seismic detectors and relay it directly to devices with precise GPS information about local risk. That information could then be used by occupants to address structural issues in their buildings, to make them more resistant to the kind of quakes that devastated parts of Italy recently. Smartphones themselves could
become earthquake monitors because they contain gyroscopes and accelerometers, which are used by seismologists. Professor John McCloskey, a geophysicist at the university’s school of geosciences, said: “We are very much at the development stage. But we have put together a really great team from geosciences and informatics, as well as education and social sciences backgrounds, who are working on the project.” The software is being developed in partnership with the university’s Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre.
Google opens ‘Digital Garage’ in Glasgow
Part of a drive to train 250,000 by year end A digital training centre is opening in Glasgow, where Google will offer the general public expert advice and skills training. The ‘digital garage’ at the Mitchell library follows on from centres in Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle. They are primarily aimed at small businesses, graduates and people wanting to change their careers but offers skills support and classes for anyone who wants to sign up. It will also host computer training for charities and local students and teachers and is part of a drive to train 250,000 people
by the end of the year. Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Keith Brown, said that the Scottish Government was committed to working with partners such as Google to develop digital talent. “It’s fantastic that Google is making this investment in Scotland,” he said. “The training and support delivered via Google’s digital garage is first class. I hope as many of our businesses and citizens as possible, at any age and stage, take advantage of this great opportunity to increase their digital skills.”
28 September 2016
First phase will be held at technology incubator CodeBase
Scottish Government launches accelerator
Winning firms tackle public sector challenges BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN Software companies are to develop potential solutions to a range of issues covering the environment, transport, education, health and social care. The Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, Derek Mackay, yesterday launched the ‘accelerator phase’ of CivTech, a project which aims to address challenges in the public sector. Since going live in June this year, CivTech has received more than 80 applications for the first six challenges set by three public sector organisations.
Digital tech to support learning Aims to develop skills for life Children and teachers will be supported to work more with digital tools in the classroom, said Deputy First Minister John Swinney. The Scottish Government unveiled more than 40 steps in a new strategy to increase the use of digital technology education. Measures include developing teachers’ skills and confidence, continuing to provide broadband and Glow, and updating the technologies curriculum to bring it in line with
digital developments and “clarify expectations around digital technology”. “This strategy is a key part of the Scottish Government’s mission to raise the educational attainment of our children and young people,” said Swinney. “It sets out how we and our partners will improve children’s access to digital learning opportunities, develop teachers’ skills and confidence and ensure the use of digital technology is central to our curriculum.” “Technology can be a powerful and engaging tool to enrich learning. We are determined to support Scotland’s
teachers to use technology to its best potential so children can improve their educational outcomes and develop skills that will be vital for their life, learning and work.” A national programme to help Scottish primary school teachers bring computer science to life was also launched by the Cabinet Secretary. The Barefoot Computing Programme was developed by BT and BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, working with Education Scotland. It aims to help teachers inspire and excite pupils aged from five about the world of computing.
The three-month accelerator phase will be held at CodeBase, one of the fastest growing technology incubators in the UK, to take advantage of its expert network. Eight companies will embark on a process of product and business development. THE CHALLENGES AND WINNERS
l Improve air quality in urban areas: Node on the Edge specialises in understanding complex data through intuitive interfaces. l Make flood forecasting better: RiverTrack specialises in Apple, Linux and embedded micro-electronics platforms. l Health and social care data and analysis : Symphonic Software harnesses the power of data held in complex environments.
l Make data publications more accessible: Wallscope allows exploration of rich data sets held by NSS. l Promote tourist destinations along the A9: Learn to Love Digital will help tourists make connections with passing landscape. l Technology to design smart roads: xDesign aims to detect potholes before they happen. l Cyber security: Wallet Services simplifies BlockChain for business and government. l Cyber education: Diddo focuses on improving users’ ability to secure their public information. l Homelessness: StreetChange will enable members to raise finance for basic needs. civtech.atlassian.net/wiki
Edinburgh introduces ‘smart’ bins Pilot project is being studied by US Sensor technology has been installed in more than 300 litter bins by the City of Edinburgh Council as part of a trial to stop them overflowing. Data gathered will also help identify improvements in bin collection and routes. The technology is being tested in the city centre, Leith Walk, Leith Links and Portobello. During August, their collections increased by 24%, with some collections
doubling or even quadrupling in frequency. It includes a heat sensor, to combat fires, and the ability to detect fly-tipping. Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Hinds, said: “The success of the pilot is attracting a lot of attention from other major cities particularly in the US, where the authorities in Washington DC have contacted us to share our experiences with them.”
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INTERNET OF THINGS
28 September 2016
First Group has attached geo-sensors to school buses in the US
Need to know when the kids are almost home from school? There’ll be an app for that soon First Group is trialling new software that will send bus notification alerts to parents BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN From a fairly ordinary local bus company bought out by managers when the market was deregulated in the late 1980s, the journey from Aberdeen municipal buses to what is now the global public transport behemoth First Group has been a pretty remarkable one. Although the company’s roots are still very much in the north-east, its day-to-day operations extend far beyond the outer limits of the Granite City. Every morning, across the US, some six million children wake up, get dressed and are ferried from their door to school in an ever-moving fleet of the company’s 45,000 buses. But as much as the firm – whose interests also span bus and rail franchises up and down the UK – has built up a steady and solid business reputation over the course of the last two decades,
it is increasingly having to keep abreast of the very latest technological advancements. And to innovate. You might not expect the humble bus to be subject to much ‘disruption’ at all, but according to Richard Thorp, First Group’s Chief Technical Officer, it might not be very long before passengers will be able to track their bus precisely on a smartphone, and even to be able to find out how many seats are available on it. “For me, it’s about passenger information,” says Thorp, who is speaking tomorrow at an Internet of Things conference in Edinburgh, run by ScotTech Engagement. “So it’s about giving accurate information about where the vehicle is, and an ETA to the passenger. I think we will get to the point where published timetables are a thing of the past. That’s quite a way off, but that’s where we’ll end up, I think.” THE IDEA OF ever-larger grids of connected devices is an emerging one. So-called smart cities have been the talk of many a municipality across the UK in recent years, notably Glasgow, which has been a test-bed for the
idea of merging data from traditional networks and services with digital communications technologies, to make them more efficient, benefiting its citizens and businesses. It is this area of overlapping previously disparate sources of data, in particular, that Thorp sees as a future driver for companies like his. “I think the technology is maturing,” says Thorp. “By that I mean there are now more available sources providing a mix of data now, and where it’s going for me is we can pick up both route information, and then overlay things like historical traffic patterns, things like geography, and elevation.” Elevation, he explains, would be of great benefit to bus companies, as they would have the ability to tweak gearbox ratios to maximise fuel efficiencies for buses travelling up hills. But also at street level, the ability to use outside data from the likes of insurers to better inform bus companies where accident black spots might be, or from mobile network providers so they can see where there are large gatherings of people, could be game-changing. “This is where I see
the confluence of big data coming forward, but the combination of weather patterns, traffic patterns, elevation, insurance and then straightforward people data would be of great benefit,” says Thorp. “If you look at a straightforward map, you’d never see a road with a corner that’s slightly off camber – you’d never see that on any map but you’d have slightly more accidents there than you would expect. “And if you start to get a little bit more info from mobile networks you’d be able to see where there’s more footfall than normal and you can start planning new routes to serve those people. If you’ve got an existing bus route where a new housing estate opens and you’ve got a bus stop in a certain place it may be worth moving the bus stop, even something as small as 200 yards back down the road, to make it a little bit closer to where those people are.” ALTHOUGH MUCH of the technology
work we discuss is currently either under wraps or just talk of likely future developments there are some tangible projects underway across the business. (The one caveat Thorp mentions more
“I think this is what people are now expecting. They can track their parcels, track their Uber taxi, why not the school bus?”
than once is connectivity; you need 4G/ LTE mobile speeds as a minimum to make much of this technology work, and there are huge swaths of the country it just doesn’t reach.) In the US, geo-sensors have been placed on school buses and an app, which is in a Beta phase of development, is likely to launch soon, which pushes notifications to parents to tell them when the vehicle is near. “I think this is what people are now expecting,” says Thorp. “They can track their parcels, track their Uber taxi, why not the school bus? Once you start layering in this amount of information, which you get from simple sensors, you can start to deliver real value to somebody.” Although the tech for being able to see if there are available seats on a bus is “not quite there yet”, there has been considerable progress with smart ticketing. Thorp envisages a scenario where biometric or facial recognition could be used instead of tap-in contactless forms of payment. “I think that’s where the future of it is going,” says Thorp. “Ultimately tap-in cards, like Oyster, things like that will come to a point. Your phone is probably going to become your electronic wallet but even that can be affected by running out of battery. “Going forward facial recognition and biometrics is a really interesting field. If you can see what can already be done by Windows Hello and the development of cameras that can even read your pulse or measure your blood pressure, the potential of this kind of technology is quite something. It’s way down the road and there are privacy issues that would need to resolved but I’m sure there will be applications for passenger information and security, even for a service that is largely the same as it was a hundred years ago, picking up people from a published route according to a timetable.”
28 September 2016
Exporting sunshine to Africa Alan Turing’s legacy brings a computer classroom to Malawi
Part of the problem in providing African students with a grounding in IT is the lack of mains electricity in remote rural areas
Picture Scotland Malawi Partnership
BY DERMOT TURING It’s 12.30pm and for once the Edinburgh weather is being kind: not sunny, but it’s not raining. In a tiny courtyard in what used to be a nursery-school, a barbecue is smoking. It’s not the type of barbecue that you might find at a DIY store end-of-summer sale – this one has been bolted together by computer engineers from parts of defunct computers. But it’s doing its job, and hungry volunteers working with the Turing Trust are queuing for burgers and sausages. It’s loading day at the Turing Trust, where a shipping container is being loaded with refurbished computers to set up more than 20 new school computer labs in Malawi. Alan Turing, in whose honour the Turing Trust was founded, would have approved. His approach was always hands-on even if his technical precision was not all it might have been. During World War 2, after his famous work cracking the secrets of the Enigma ciphering machine had been completed, he was put to work on a top-secret engineering project to create a secure way for phone calls to take place without being vulnerable to eavesdroppers. This was the Delilah project – until recently still kept under the wraps of the Official Secrets Act. But Alan Turing was not the best person to put in a workshop with a soldering iron, as Donald Bayley, one of Turing’s wartime colleagues recalled: “I came into the hut, they said just see what’s what to start with. “This chap had his shirt hanging out. There were resistors and capacitors, as fast as he’d soldered one on another would fall off. It was a spider’s nest of stuff – a complete mess … all soldered anyhow, and hoped they’d hold together. He was annoyed I mentioned his shirt hanging out.” The barbecue in Edinburgh had the good manners to hold itself together in one piece for the duration of lunch service, and the Turing Trust volunteers could get back to the serious business of loading more than 550 computers, together with their associated
monitors, mice and keyboards into the shipping container. Although it looks like an ordinary, rather grubby, container, this one is in fact rather special. Some of the boxes being loaded are marked with yellow stickers printed ‘SolarBerry’, which are being handled with extra reverence. JAMES TURING, who founded the
Turing Trust in 2009, explains: “Part of the problem in providing African students with a grounding in IT is the lack of mains electricity in remote rural areas. But we are going to re-purpose a shipping container by equipping it with solar panels, powering low energy Raspberry Pi computers, and cutting doors into the side, so it becomes a self-contained IT classroom. We call it the SolarBerry.” The yellow-stickered boxes contain the wires and equipment needed to
“A shipping container becomes a self-contained IT classroom” James Turing
complete the conversion when the container reaches Malawi. It’s been tried and tested – even the weak Midlothian sunshine in April produced enough power to operate a Raspberry Pi. In Africa, that won’t be a problem, and the risk of over-heating is resolved by using a special cloth which shields the classroom, the students and the computers, and solar powered fans. ACCORDING TO UNESCO, only one
in seven students in Malawi leaves secondary school with basic IT skills – without which it can be impossible to break out of the poverty cycle. James Turing says that the Scotland-Malawi partnership has been pivotal in helping the Turing Trust to change this. “We had a grant from the Scottish Government without which our project wouldn’t have been possible,” he said. “Now with their help and support from
our other partners we are about to send our first solar-powered IT classroom to Malawi.” One SolarBerry may be just a beginning, but 500 more second-hand computers are already stacked up for refurbishment – some, like Alan Turing’s Delilah, need replacement capacitors – and a second shipment is on the cards. The aims of the Turing Trust are to empower the less fortunate by providing educational resources on recycled IT. Another thing Alan Turing would have approved of. To find out more, visit www.turingtrust.co.uk Dermot Turing is a trustee of the Turing Trust, author of ‘Prof: Alan Turing Decoded’ and will be speaking at http://edutech.scot/ in Glasgow on 7 December.
Challenge of introducing tech into education Scotland has a historic friendship with Malawi, dating back more than 150 years to the travels of Dr David Livingstone, writes Colin Reilly. Today, there are more than 1,000 civic links between the two countries, creating a genuine partnership. Education is at the heart of a formal cooperation agreement signed between Scotland and Malawi in 2005. The Turing Trust is one of more than 400 organisations working between the two countries to help strengthen education provision. There are also more than 230 Scottish schools that have partnerships with schools in Malawi. The education system in Malawi
comprises eight years of primary school followed by four years of secondary school. Tertiary education largely consists of four year undergraduate courses as well as a limited number of postgraduate courses. Malawi has yet to achieve universal primary education. For pupils to progress in primary school they must pass exams at the end of each year and 25% of primary pupils repeat the same grade every year. There is a primary completion rate of around 30% and a secondary enrolment rate of around 15%. Children from lower socioeconomic brackets living in rural areas are the most likely not to be attending
school. Tertiary education enrolment in Malawi is arguably the lowest in the world with only 1% enrolment. With around 50% of the population now under 18, there is significant pressures on the education system in Malawi. Education spending is 7% of GDP, which is higher than many African countries. The majority of government spending is on secondary and tertiary education. There is a widespread recognition that education in Malawi needs to be reviewed and, in 2010, the Malawian Government commissioned a review of Malawi’s 1962 Education Act – educational legislation created before
Malawi’s independence. Malawi’s new Education Act was introduced in 2013, updating educational law to recognise the societal and national changes which had occurred in Malawi during the period of the nation’s independence. Education is seen predominantly as a method of nation-building which also aims to train Malawians to a level which will allow them to develop the skills required to compete in the contemporary global job market. The Act aims to promote an education system in the country which provides equity and access to quality education for all Malawians. This new legislation comes alongside increasing calls from
both local and international stakeholders to diversify approaches to teaching, learning and curriculum development in the country. A large number of these calls regard the importance of incorporating new technologies and producing IT-literate learners in Malawi, something which remains difficult given the conditions, and resources available, in the education system. Colin Reilly is a trustee of the Scotland Malawi Partnership, the national network coordinating Scotland’s civic links with Malawi. www.scotland-malawipartnership.org @ScotlandMalawi
28 September 2016
The Project Lightning build programme is targeting an extra four million households across the UK, including Scotland, with a quarter aiming to be fibre direct to premises (known as FTTP)
Virgin Media’s network footprint is about to get bigger. And faster. The cabling giant is expanding its highspeed infrastructure across Scotland as part of ‘Project Lightning’ BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN Virgin Media is the largest private network cable operator in the UK – offering broadband, TV, landline and mobile phone services to residential and business customers. It has a huge nationwide footprint and the company – which has its origins in the cabling businesses of NTL and Telewest – has pledged to extend its network from 13 million to 17 million premises by the end of 2019 with a £3bn investment. In particular it sees great opportunities to expand its services in Scotland where many residents and businesses have been calling out for better broadband for some time. Virgin Media makes extensive use of fibre in its network and doesn’t have to rely on old ADSL ‘copper’ cables, meaning it can offer ultrafast speeds of up to 300Mbps. This level of connectivity will make a huge difference to Scotland given the lower coverage levels of superfast broadband compared with the UK as a whole. When I catch up with Martin McFadyen, Virgin Media’s Scotland Regional Director, he explains that his job is currently as much about explaining
the benefits Virgin Media can bring as it is about expanding the network to sustain rising data consumption levels, driven largely by the uptake of smart devices, as well as TV over internet. “We see great opportunities in Scotland,” he says. “In February last year when we announced this £3bn Project Lightning programme to invest in our network expansion, there was a recognition that we needed to build strong relationships with key stakeholders across the UK. For example we’ve been working with local authorities up and down the country to make sure we get the right conditions (particularly around planning and permissions, like wayleaves) to maximise our network investment, being a figurehead at regional forums and helping to develop new commercial partnerships. So in the early part of this year I was asked if I would fulfil that role within Scotland.” And McFadyen seems well placed to do that. He has not been parachuted into the job from a remote, London office; instead, after joining the organisation nine years ago, he has steadily helped to build a Glasgow team that has focused on the business and public sector markets, working with the likes of local authorities, Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. VIRGIN MEDIA IS also very actively
working with the Scottish Government – through its Digital Scotland arm – to help achieve Scotland’s connectivity ambitions and in particular to prevent any unnecessary duplication of net-
work build funded by public money in places Virgin Media is building with private investment. “If Virgin Media already has network in the ground that is providing choice why would you waste public money?” McFadyen says. “It’s about preventing overbuild in the network. If Virgin Media has a programme to develop our network, it makes sense to ask the Scottish Government to invest only in the geographical areas which have been very poorly served, that last 5%
“If Virgin Media already has network in the ground that is providing choice why would you waste public money?” Martin McFadyen, Virgin Media’s Scotland Regional Director
of the country which is proving a big challenge to get to. If they do that, then logically there will be more money available in those more difficult-toreach areas.” FOR ITS PART, Virgin Media is committing to a quarter of its four million new connections target being connected with fibre direct to premises (known as FTTP). This will see the company offer speeds of up to 300Mbps over a ‘pure fibre’ connection. Ofcom analysis has shown that the firm consistently delivers higher broadband speeds than its competitors – and it intends to maintain its speed advantage. “With the growth in high definition requirements for on-demand services and the continuing uplift in the number of devices that people have in their home, we’re constantly evolving,” says McFadyen. “Not so long ago 100Mbps was the top bandwidth we had on offer for consumers. Today it’s 200Mbps. “And the good news is that our fibre-rich infrastructure is able to cope with even more demand for faster broadband. While BT has to put quite a lot of effort and time into testing new technologies and new ways of squeezing life out of their ageing copper network we can scale up fairly quickly and easily,” he adds. We will likely not only see the visible presence of Virgin Media’s network expansion as it gathers pace in Scotland, but also the company’s efforts to
engage the communities it ultimately hopes to serve. The company’s ‘supercharging local communities’ initiative uses its Cable My Street website to identify and track areas of the country where demand for its services are highest, with local residents and businesses encouraged to vote for their community to be one of the first to benefit from Virgin Media’s services. “Four of the top 10 communities in the UK set to have fibre connected directly to their door will be in Scotland, which is fantastic. It shows that people want more choice when it comes to their service provider,” adds McFadyen. “But I want to see more of that: making those communities aware of who we are and what we are doing is very high up on my agenda.”
FACTFILE l Virgin Media employs 1,700 people in Scotland, based mainly in its Bellshill and Uddingston offices. l The top five areas for current demand are Glasgow, Edinburgh, Kilmarnock, Motherwell and Paisley. l After receiving the most votes under the ‘supercharging local communities’ initiative, four local areas – Kirknewton, Houston, Crosslee, Craigends and Brookfield, Bridge of Weir and Kilmacolm – will receive fibre broadband delivered directly to the door.
REGISTERS OF SCOTLAND
28 September 2016
A process rooted in paper ledgers bearing the spidery scrawl of quill pen and ink
After 400 years, the sprint One of Scotland’s oldest organisations is racing into the future BY WILLIAM PEAKIN Founded in 1617, the Registers of Scotland (RoS) does not seem the kind of place that would boast an innovation lab or user experience centre. But on the fifth floor of Meadowbank House in Edinburgh, software engineers and ‘UX’ experts sit working out ways to make an organisation, which will celebrate its 400th anniversary next year, a leader in digital innovation. RoS is a fundamental asset to Scotland; it records who owns property and land. Without it, homes and buildings could be not bought or sold. The ground on which we stand would be up for grabs. The World Bank uses the efficiency of a country’s land registry as a measure of a nation’s economy. However, the speed of its processes – rooted in paper ledgers bearing the spidery scrawl of quill pen and ink – could, even in recent history, be glacial. Latterly, robust management has done
much to make the organisation more efficient and customer-focused. But, as it prepares to look back over the centuries in a celebration that coincides with the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, RoS is in the midst of a digital revolution that is further transforming the way it works; providing faster services, saving money and opening up the possibility of exciting technologies for use by people and business. Two floors down from the future, sits the present: an IT operations and development team that has already helped move RoS away from a need to rely on outmoded systems. It is modern and well-run; a place where people want to work, its IT department attracting recruits from established players like Sky and leading-edge digital companies such as Skyscanner – and it was cited last year by a parliamentary committee as an example of good practice. TOM MEADE heads the department
and was brought in by RoS chief executive Sheenagh Adams as part of her aim to transform RoS into an organisation that is “digital first”. “What
Sheenagh wanted to do was move us from where we were to a much more customer-centric, efficient organisation. I understood the ambition of the organisation, I could see how collegiate they were and I thought: ‘That’s an environment I’d really like to work in.’” Meade was previously at the Student Loans Company, the first organi-
“We view it as business transformation; the business deciding what it wants to do with its IT capability” Tom Meade
sation chosen by the UK’s globallylauded Government Digital Service to be part of its pioneering programme to make 25 major services digital by default. “It was the first big piece of government work, and agile delivery, that I was involved in,” said Meade. ‘Agile’ is one of those buzzwords that flips a switch in most people’s heads to ‘off’. But, basically, it means that instead of embarking on a long, inflexible, costly and, often, ultimately futile period of software development, digital services instead are designed, coded – and tested on end users – in chunks. It typically results in services that are quicker to go live, more effective and cheaper. But before Meade and his team could get to that point, they had to sort the organisation’s antiquated IT systems. They ditched old servers, put them on new operating systems, recoded applications and introduced a monitoring function. By exiting two third-party support contracts, RoS has saved £1.1m a year. Meade then introduced agile working to IT operations: “It’s not normally used in operations; it’s a bit of anathema to it. You don’t want to be doing
major change in a department whose job is ‘keeping the lights on’. But what you can do is apply it to how you work as a team, how do we get our throughput better? “So the team self-organises and decides what’s the best way to work tickets through. You also have a ‘work-inprogress limit’. That sounds as though it slows things down, but it means that things get done, tickets get finished. It actually increases your through-put quite significantly. There’s a whole lot of science behind it, and it works.” Those new ways of working, coupled with technology changes such as the use of virtualisation – allowing a piece of hardware to run multiple operating systems at the same time (320 servers have been taken out, reducing the footprint of the organisation’s inhouse data centre by 70%) – has also saved RoS £1.6m a year by reducing the time that systems are down. THE CHANGES represent the first
stages in RoS’s three-year digital strategy launched in the spring of 2015, which aims to make the IT systems stable, efficient and dynamic. “But we don’t look at it as digital transforma-
REGISTERS OF SCOTLAND
28 September 2016
Underlining the improved age profile with an apprenticeship award next year
Serious players: A sasine reenactment in Lego
Celebrating the past, looking to the future BY WILLIAM PEAKIN
tion; the IT doing something to the business,” Meade said. “We view it as business transformation; the business deciding what it wants to do with its IT capability.” Using agile working, his team embarks on two-week ‘sprints’ which result in code that can be put on a production server and used by user experience specialists. In part of the innovation lab, the UX centre, featuring eye-tracking software, allows specialists to observe users’ response to new online services. Solicitors are RoS’s main customers and more than 100 firms have signed-up to participate and provide feedback. “You analyse, design, build and test, with people who understand our end users, in small increments. It allows people at every stage to see something evolving,” said Meade. “To do that, you need brilliant engineering practices, automated testing and release and the right environment in which to do the work; in our case we built a private ‘cloud’. It’s all about flexibility and the ability to adapt.” IN 2014, THE IT department issued three software releases; last year there were 50 – new functionality into users’ hands – and they have exceeded that number this year already. While improvements have been made to the online services, RoS is restricted in what it can change because of legislation. Every piece of a form is defined by legislation. Meade’s team has looked at changes to make them
Attracting recruits from leading-edge digital companies such as Skyscanner significantly easier for end users. In consultation with its customer panel, the Law Society, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the team has worked with colleagues in the RoS policy team to draft a series of proposed legislative changes which it is hoped could be passed by next April. “The application process should become a whole lot easier for people,” said Meade. “We also provide data services to people, which can be manually intensive for us, so the reengineering work we are doing will
make that data available in a much more accessible way, on paper, online or for big companies, machine-tomachine through an API. “The technology we are building and how we are delivering it is really leading edge and it’s very empowering for those working on it; it’s based on the teams deciding on the best way to make it work. You get a whole lot from people and the people get a whole lot more out of it. They are part of the creative process. People are now recommending to their friends: ‘This is a great place to work.’”
“We’re turning business around quicker than we have ever done,” said Registers of Scotland (RoS) chief executive Sheenagh Adams, looking back over the year. “When I joined the organisation there were cases sitting on the shelves that were years old, literally. Now, 80% is coming in and going back out the door again in two days.” But the past 12 months have also been about laying the foundations for completion of the land register – an enormous and complex task – by 2024, with all public land registered by 2019. “There has been a lot of engagement with the private and public sector. For example, we now have a commitment from the Duke of Buccleuch, Scotland’s largest private landowner, to register all his land. “And the Forestry Commission, the largest public sector owner, has also started its programme of voluntary applications. We don’t underestimate the task, but it’s good to see things moving in the right direction. Our staff have been doing tens of thousands of miles up and down the country, talking to people and they do get it; they understand the benefits of one register, a modern map-based digital register.” In addition to the digital strategy lead by Tom Meade, RoS is setting up ScotLIS, the Scottish Land Information System which will be a platform for people and businesses to access information about land and property, and is set to go live in October 2017. As well as being central to conveyancing, it will also provide useful information on house prices, school catchment areas and environmental issues such as the location of flood plains. IN 2017, ROS will celebrate 400 years since the creation of the General Register of Sasines under the Registration Act 1617. The sasine register is the world’s oldest register of property ownership rights; a chronological list of land transaction deeds containing written descriptions of what ownerships cover.
To mark the anniversary, Scotland is looking forward to hosting the Registrars of Title Conference, which began in Australia and New Zealand as a forum to build on mutual experience and develop new ideas around land titles. It has since expanded to include registrars from around the world, including the UK, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mauritius. It is one event in a series of celebrations which Adams hopes will be a showcase: “We want to show that Scotland is at the leading edge, with our digital programme for example. Our customer service, our legislation are also still world leaders. We may be a 400-year-old organisation but we have a history of innovation and we are pioneering a great deal today. We continue to be very forward looking.” AS WELL AS the conference, RoS has worked with Creative Scotland to commission a piece of art; the choice of RoS staff from a series of entries, it will be an innovative map of Scotland that will depict 40 decades beginning with text from the sasine register and ending with computer code. It is also sponsoring a Masters degree course at Glasgow University. And it is considering a series of ideas from staff, among them a re-enactment of a sasine ceremony. “We’ve just done one in Lego,” said Adams. “One of our account managers is qualified in Lego Serious Play, which is used as training tool to improve business performance, and he’s done an enactment which is so cute and has been really well-liked on Twitter!” Adams is also keen to underline the diversity and improved age profile of the workforce with RoS having just recruited for its fourth modern apprenticeship programme. She believes the focus of RoS is now where it should be: “When I came here, we did really what suited us. Now we ask: ‘What’s it like for the customer?’ It is no longer about what suits us. And that has been transformational. We are not perfect, but we are working hard and working closely with our customers to get it right for them.”
28 September 2016
Data drives every decision the company makes
A fast moving world Chris Yiu believes Uber will make a radical difference to the quality of people’s lives BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN Imagine a city without car parks, and how much space would be saved as a result. Think also of busy, bustling arteries of traffic that could become choke free, if people gave up one of the most expensive possessions they will ever own: the car. These are images I’m invited to contemplate by Chris Yiu, general manager of Uber in Scotland and north-east England, which is approaching its first full year of operations in Scotland. In Chris’s eyes, that’s what future success would look like for the ‘ride hail’ giant, which planted roots in Edinburgh and Glasgow towards the end of last year, and is now busy tracking the number of people opening its app to see where in the country it might launch next. Because data drives every decision the company makes, and is likely to ever make. Where there is a demand, Uber will supply. “We started in Glasgow in October last year, and then in Edinburgh in November because that’s where the most demand was; but word has spread as the riders and drivers liked the product,” says Yiu. “Our coverage area is expanding organically, pushing Uber further out. It’s pretty exciting. We’ve got tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of happy riders across Scotland.” And that network is indeed spread-
ing: there are already “hundreds” (Uber doesn’t reveal precise numbers because it varies all the time) of drivers both in Edinburgh and in Glasgow, with new places being added all the time: in the east it has been extended to Livingston and Bathgate, and Yiu says the firm is “looking at” Musselburgh and Dalkeith. From Glasgow, it now reaches Paisley, Motherwell, Hamilton, Coatbridge and Airdrie. “The world moves fast when you’re at Uber,” he says, citing the fact that just a few years ago the company only served London, and is now in 20 cities across the UK. “Because we’re app based we’ve got really good data on where people open the app, including those in areas where we don’t cover, in terms of service. So we are able to see that, for example in Paisley over last few months, thousands of people were opening the Uber app.” YIU INSISTS that demand is being
driven not just by convenience (it is a cashless and arguably more transparent transaction) but also by reliability and safety concerns. With an automated service run on constantly connected devices, passengers will get the best match possible to their doors (this is apparently four minutes on average in Edinburgh and Glasgow), benefiting the drivers as well, who know they will get a quick fare. There are also more and more women drivers coming onto the platform and, on the flip side, passengers who might have felt vulnerable in the past travelling alone can now send the details of their trips by text for loved ones to track. “It’s a pretty amazing safety feature,” says Yiu. “Only with IoT can we do Uber Trip, so you can go on the app
and text the trip to someone else, which will show in real-time where my car is and who’s driving. It’s that kind of stuff that previously we were unable to do; you’d get in a cab, say you were on your way and the other person would cross their fingers. The other person doesn’t even need the app, the text will open up a web page and show the progress of the trip, saying it’ll be 10 minutes till the car arrives.” The tech is inevitably extremely well formed, and growing in its ambition. Yiu talks me through Uber Pool, the ride sharing system, which if really successful could eventually take many cars off the road altogether, cutting down on emissions and lowering congestion. Uber Eats is another venture, which could cut into a market quickly taken over by Deliveroo. And Uber Rush can start delivering packages around cities, helping small firms such as florists which might not be able to justify the overheads of owning their own vehicles.
“It’s quite astonishing, it’s superexciting and the mission is really important” Chris Yiu
But it’s not without its challenges; billions of pounds have been ploughed into the company from private investors, and it has had its fingers burnt recently in China, where it has pulled out of the market, selling its operations to rival Didi Chuxing. On a macro level the company is burning an awful lot of cash, although that is consciously part of the strategy to achieve market dominance. ON A MORE local level in Scotland
there has been considerable resistance from the established order of taxi drivers. In Edinburgh a very active campaign is being waged by cabbies against the company, whose drivers believe Uber is sacrificing quality, and vehicle safety standards. Numerous pictures and videos have been posted on a Facebook site showing alleged infractions. “Clearly some of the incumbent businesses aren’t best pleased, because we provide a really good quality service with extra competition, and if you haven’t faced that before then you can understand why you might not be thrilled that Uber has arrived,” says Yiu. “But our view is that if it encourages everyone to improve and raise their game to provide a better standard of service for passengers then that’s a good thing. We don’t spend a lot of time obsessing about the competition. We just want to do the best possible job for the riders and the drivers that choose to be part of it.” To that extent Uber lets its platform do its talking, and its offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow regularly host ‘welcome sessions’ for new drivers, where (after having gone through the local council process to obtain the nec-
essary private hire licences and passing background Police Scotland checks), they are allowed onto the road. It does actually seem incongruous that a virtual company like Uber even has an office, but I’m assured there are no old-fashioned window grilles which punters have to lean through. “It’s still really important for us to have a physical presence, so drivers can come and see us before they get started,” says Yiu. “You can’t just drive - just like any minicab company, the drivers have to be licensed and every council has its own process and paperwork.” But by and large the drivers – and punters – seem to be happy with the service, Yiu adds, as the growth speaks for itself. He is engaging with more and more councils, to let them know about Uber’s presence, and each day is different. “I honestly believe what we’re doing is going to make a radical difference to the quality of our lives, especially in big cities which are busy, snarled up places. If we get this right, which I’m pretty confident we will, in the future it will mean not only will there will be less pollution and less congestion, but it means people who previously found it hard to get around can get around, people who couldn’t afford to use taxis can use Uber. “And, who knows, in years ahead people might not need to own cars at all; if that was the case that would be incredible because it would mean you would not only save a lot of money but it would mean we could repurpose our city centres. If you think about all the space given over to car parking, what we could do with that. It’s quite astonishing, it’s super-exciting and the mission is really important.”
28 September 2016
Phew, we can all rest easy. Quadrature amplitude modulation means we can carry on uploading cat videos for the next 25 years. University of Glasgow working with Chinese counterparts to speed up the web
Looking to a world beyond 0s and 1s
BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN In a 21st century dominated by digital communications, it seems rather counterintuitive to imagine that the internet we all enjoy could be considerably improved by old-fashioned analogue technology. But that is the nub of pioneering work being undertaken by communications technologists at the University of Glasgow, in conjunction with their academic colleagues in China. Already demonstrated in theory, the work is now at an advanced experimental stage, and looks likely to be adopted in three to 10 years’ time by all the major telecoms companies who have a hand in managing what is known as the ‘core network’ of the worldwide web, the main feeder pipes that keep traffic along the information superhighway happily moving along. Physically, the core network sits two steps beyond us at home; we, as broadband consumers, are situated on what is known as the ‘access network’; our data then travels to the familiar green roadside cabinets and beyond to the telephone exchanges of the ‘metropolitan area network’, and then finally to the core, the giant data tentacles that propel the likes of Google, Facebook and YouTube delete data from users in the UK to the rest of the world. When I talk to Dr Duncan Bremner, Business Development Manager and a Senior University Teacher within the School of Engineering, he describes the core network in the UK, which travels between key cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, York, Cambridge/Peterborough, London (down one side of the country), and then up the other side passing Birmingham, Manchester and Carlisle. So a bit like a ring main, I ask? “Yes, it is a bit like a ring main,” says Bremner, who I catch up with just a couple of days after he’s touched down from Chengdu in China. He’s still catching up from the jet lag. The prelude to our conversation lies in an announcement made by the University over the summer that it had signed a partnership agreement with one of the most important state-owned enterprise companies in China to develop an international optoelectronics industry base in the Lingang area of Shanghai. Optoelectronics is the study and application of electronic devices that source, detect and control light, and has the potential to transform communications
technology, making fibre broadband ever faster and more efficient. And it can work not by digging up the existing fibre optic network in the ground and tinkering with it; instead a combination of software and hard electronics will work at the end points of a piece of fibre - the transmitters and receivers, to boost the amount of data that can be carried along the core network. WHILST THE work being delivered at
the moment by the likes of BT OpenReach and Virgin Media to install more and more fibre in the ground will go on unabated, the technology Dr Bremner describes should futureproof the industry for the next generation, allowing the core to go from speeds of 10gbps currently, to around 5-600gbps. “If we keep on passing many more pictures, videos of cats jumping into fridges, or whatever else, on to YouTube and Facebook, that in turn places much more demand on the core network,” says Dr Bremner. “So by increasing the capacity of the core network, by deploying this technology, it will be of notable benefit. If they deploy this new technology, it broadens those pipes out without requiring any more fibre - effectively it should alleviate the bottlenecks we are now seeing.
If you’re talking about streaming high definition television at 20mbps, you’ve got kids surfing the internet and your wife’s listening to music, whilst you’re looking at HD videos, it’s starting to get to that pain point. You notice that especially at peak periods in the evening, around 5 or 6pm.” And the progress rests on theories that have been in existence since the invention of the wireless, says Dr Bremner. The techniques have long been used in radio and but can be applied in a digital setting. Currently,
“People transmitting photos on Facebook don’t really care about the finer points of whether it’s 1s or 0s or if it’s 16 QAM”
fibre optic communication relies on sequences of digital 1s and 0s (switching off and on) to transmit data using laser lights. Instead of there just being those two states, the new technology will introduce fractions like 1/3, and 2/3 to increase to four states, doubling the amount of data that can be transmitted. That can be further increased to 16 by splitting into four (in phase), and four (in magnitude). “We can go up to higher orders than that,” says Dr Bremner. “We can even go up to 64 QAM [Quadrature amplitude modulation], which gives you even more states, 64 different states for every symbol. You’re still running at a symbol rate of 10gbps. Instead of going just off and on, you’re sending 64 different options to it, which means you hugely increase the capacity of the fibre, but still using the same fibre.” MY HEAD IS a little befuddled by this time, but thankfully Dr Bremner says it’s a bit like having 64 lanes on a motorway, as opposed to just two, which helps alleviate my own bottleneck, and also the real one which is being squeezed every year by the annual growth in internet traffic or around 20%. “I think that’s the most important thing. People transmitting photos on
Facebook don’t really care about the finer points of whether it’s 1s or 0s or if it’s 16 QAM, they just want the photographs to get to their friends,” says Dr Bremner. “And as we become more and more digitised and more and more dependent on the internet, not just for information but as raw communications this will be essential. It’s driving the technology forward to meet the market demand. It’s not just technology because we can, as some of the ideas are actually old, but the important thing is making sure we’re future proofing the fibre network that is being laid down today for probably the next generation or so.” The agreement has led to the establishment of the Shanghai Lingang International Photonic Integrated Circuit Joint Laboratory (PIC Lab) which will foster collaboration between the University of Glasgow and its partners in Lingang. PIC Lab aims to accelerate the development and commercialisation of optoelectronic integrated chip technology, integrating multiple optical components on a single chip and packaging the chips with high-speed electronics, to address the demand for high speed network connections for the next generation of the Internet.
28 September 2016 Val Lawrence: “This will really help me grow the business”
A superfast country Programme is part of Government’s plan to make Scotland a world-class digital nation by 2020 BY WILLIAM PEAKIN Vivienne Seeley set up VivID, a graphic design consultancy, 15 years ago working from her home in St Boswells in the Borders. Seely creates brand identities, websites and marketing material for clients locally and across the UK. Until recently, sending large files to clients and printers would take hours and the job would often have to be restarted from scratch if the internet connection dropped. Now, Seeley is one of more than 640,000 beneficiaries of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband (DSSB) programme. “Now, files are sent instantly. I just don’t have to think about the technology any more, I can get on with my business,” she said. With two teenage children and a husband who runs a recruitment company from home, Seeley said that before they had a fibre connection, all four of them would compete for the available bandwidth. “Our two businesses tended to come
tool. I can upload photos of the product line to Facebook instantaneously whereas it took ages before. I can also use video on social media for the first time. As jewellery is such a visual product, it makes a huge difference to the business to be able to show photos and videos easily. This is having a direct impact on sales revenue and will really help me grow the business.” Connecting, on average, 7,000 premises a week in both rural and urban communities across the country, the DSSB programme is one of the most ambitious infrastructure programmes in Europe.
first, which meant that my sons were frustrated because they could not do what they wanted online such as play X-Box games or download videos,” said Seeley. “So it is fantastic for us that now everyone can enjoy the same fast speeds regardless of how many people are online at the same time. “Graphic design is a competitive industry and now that I can be so much more productive, it is far easier to develop and grow the business. I can use Skype for meetings, saving time and money, and make more use of cloud computing. I will be able to work with clients and colleagues in London and elsewhere on a level playing field.”
THE £410M programme involves
VAL LAWRENCE RUNS a jewellery
business from Bridge of Weir, with a 126-strong team across Scotland. “Until I had a fibre broadband connection, it was often impossible to work from home as the previous broadband connection was so slow – only 1Mbps. I would have to go into town and use a WiFi hotspot in a cafe. This was really frustrating as so much valuable time was wasted. “Having a fibre broadband connection is absolutely fantastic. We can now rely on broadband speeds of around 35 Mbps, so now I can make full use of social media, which is my main selling
North west Glasgow area is among the latest places to benefit
installing fibre broadband across Scotland, connecting areas which weren’t going to be covered commercially. With more than 640,000 homes and business able to connect to fibre thanks to the programme, it is part of the Scottish Government’s plans to ensure that Scotland is a world-class digital nation by 2020. The faster upload and download speeds fibre broadband brings is improving the quality of online experiences and supporting exciting new developments in internet services across the country. At home everyone can be online at the same time
28 September 2016 without screens freezing or quality being compromised, allowing families to download movies, play games and Skype at the same time. For businesses, fibre broadband can have a major positive impact on productivity and also promote growth. The faster upload and download speeds enable them to take advantage of the latest business software through cloud computing, back up data instantly, make the most of digital marketing by working locally and competing globally through an improved online presence, reduce the need to travel by using video conferencing and work flexibly from the office, home or on the move. SARA BUDGE, DSSB programme
director said: “Fibre broadband is completely transformational, whether you have a family all wanting on the internet at the same time or if you have a small business or work from home. In terms of the micro and small business community, fibre broadband can completely change the way your business runs and performs.” The programme aims to reach 95% of homes and businesses across Scotland by March 2018 and the next two years will see the programme deploying into rural and more remote areas. Budge added: “The fibre infrastructure, which will be in place for 95 per cent of homes and businesses across Scotland to access by March 2018, presents a fantastic opportunity for the future of Scotland and its economy. It’s vital that we encourage as many people as possible to get on board with this technology so that all the advantages – social, educational and business – come to fruition.” She said: “Visit www.scotlandsuperfast.com to check if fibre broadband is available in your area, read more about the benefits and register for updates. Once it’s available you’ll need to contact your service provider to order the service.” The programme covers both rural areas as well as small towns and areas that have not been reached commercially. Glasgow’s North West is one of the latest areas to benefit from the programme with around 300 more premises around Anniesland and Jordanhill among the latest to be reached. According to the independent Think Broadband website, nearly 99 per cent of premises in the North West parliamentary constituency are now able to access fibre broadband speeds of 30Mbps or above. Local MP Carol Monaghan visited a local fibre cabinet on Southbrae Drive to explore the engineering behind the technology and hosted a digital drop-in
“In terms of the micro and small business community, fibre broadband can completely change the way your business performs” Sara Budge
session in her local constituency office to help constituents find out more. She urged local people to consider the benefits of a high-speed fibre broadband connection – which can be ordered through their chosen service provider – as upgrades are not automatic. “Fibre broadband has an essential role to play in everyone’s lives – whether at home or in business. It’s great news that thousands of local people across Glasgow North West can now connect to this exciting technol-
ogy if they choose. Broadband speed is a subject close to the heart of many of my constituents, and it’s good to see today the excellent progress that’s being made,” she said. “The arrival of fibre broadband means local people and firms can do more online at faster speeds and on multiple devices and there’s lots of evidence to show it boosts the local economy. I look forward to fibre broadband being rolled out across the rest of my constituency.”
FUTURESCOT 13 Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband is one of the most ambitious infrastructure programmes in Europe
VR, AR & AI
28 September 2016
Developed at Abertay University, an off-the-shelf gaming motion controller allows the user to perform the same virtual production techniques as high-end Hollywood hardware - for a fraction of the cost
The real deal in virtual expertise Scotland is nurturing global players in virtual and augmented reality and artificial intelligence
BY WILLIAM PEAKIN Martin McDonnell remembers being lifted as a child so that he could reach to play on Atari’s arcade game, Battlezone. It was the 1980s, the era of the ZX Spectrum, of gaming code published in hobbyist magazines and Marty McFly’s virtual reality glasses from Back to the Future II. Then there were the 90s, and the video games Doom and Quake. “Fast forward to 2000,” said McDonnell, chairman of the Glasgowbased digital visualisation company Soluis, “and, luckily, I’ve managed to turn my passion for playing around in 3D into a business, making images and movies of things for clients. Being the geek that played Battlezone and Doom I had tried and failed to bring games technology into our space. “I wanted to allow the client, the architect or the engineer to be able to walk through and experience the project – but it was prohibitively expensive. Then, in 2010 three Danish guys came along and completely disrupted the games industry with the Unity gaming engine, where the licence was $1,500 instead of half a million. It was literally a game changer for us.” THE FIRST BIG project was the
Gatwick South Terminal where clients such as Harrods and Selfridges were able to ‘walk’ through their retail space, using 3D glasses and a monitor. The next breakthrough was Oculus, a Kickstarter project ultimately bought
by Facebook for $2bn. With the big electronics and software companies now heavily invested, virtual reality (VR) has essentially become “democratised,” according to McDonnell. Google’s Cardboard VR viewer costs £15: “We have even delivered high-end projects using Google’s Cardboard. There is huge potential for Cardboard in education, museums, heritage and so on.” With VR, you disappear into a virtual world, detached from reality. With augmented reality (AR) you can see the real world, but information and visuals can be overlaid. VR AND AR will be revolutionary
in business and industry and in the design of civic and personal spaces, said McDonnell. One area with the earliest potential applications in a sector such as construction, is in training and health and safety, he said. In the near future there are also incredible efficiencies to be gained in manufacturing where complex, precision processes that currently take more than 10 minutes could be reduced to “sub-minute”. Another medium is ‘immersive’, said McDonnell, such as Soluis’s dome which allows people to stand together and view in 3D. This year, Soluis has been working with Crossrail after winning an Innovate UK competition for its augmented reality software that allows construction site staff to both access and upload data via a smart helmet’s ‘heads-up’ visor display. It
has also an established relationship with Los Angeles-based Daqri, whose smart helmet has been deployed in the aerospace industry. Called In-site, the Soluis app pulls information about buildings or structures from the cloud to the helmet and then overlays it as augmented reality on workers’ visor screens. Further ahead, predicted McDonnell, he could have “Iron Man powers”, using augmented reality to inspect a workplace or installation to ‘see’ the health of equipment in real-time, ‘look’ through walls and ceilings, retrieve information and then file reports. One recent development exciting McDonnell is Skype for Microsoft’s HoloLens which will allow
“Further ahead, predicted McDonnell, he could have ‘Iron Man powers’, using augmented reality to ‘look’ through walls and ceilings”
VR, AR & AI
28 September 2016
FUTURESCOT 15 Abertay is home to the world’s first computer games degree courses
people to “dial in to my reality” and interact on a project or inspect work; it could be a breakthrough for the oil and gas industry, he said. SCOTTISH ENTERPRISE has played a
key role in supporting the growth and diversification of the company. The agency appointed a dedicated account manager and Soluis has received funding to accelerate product development. Support has also allowed it to travel to overseas events and seminars, helping advance their international expansion plans – with particular focus on the USA and the Middle East. The company is one of several in Scotland that is working in VR, AR and AI (artificial intelligence). Edinburghbased Cloudgine, co-founded by Dave Jones of Realtime Worlds and Rockstar North fame, has partnered with Microsoft for the past two years on its game Crackdown 3. Emerging AR and VR devices are set to change people’s lives, but with them comes an unprecedented demand for processing power. In gaming and related activities, these new devices place huge demands on PCs, consoles and mobiles, requiring 90 frames per second stereoscopic rendering and high performance tracking for an acceptable and enjoyable experience. This leaves very little device compute power for the applications themselves. Cloudgine is using cloud computing expertise to create an AR & VR platform that will “restore and dynamically amplify the compute power available
to applications”. It allows developers to have a high-frame rate, low latency view into huge worlds powered by complex AI, physics and logic. Its cloud platform also brings as standard its multiplayer and social support to AR and VR worlds, now fully optimised for 90fps interactivity. By leveraging the immense power available within data centres, computationally intensive game components such as physics and AI can be “supercharged” in order to deliver game experiences that go well beyond what any console or PC can offer now or in the future. With its extensive experience in online games development and distributed computing the company is “uniquely positioned to help game studios of any size transition to this new revolutionary paradigm by providing tools and expertise throughout the process.” MEANWHILE Stand Out Games, based
in Dundee, is a three-year-old mobile and virtual reality games company. The firm has two titles available in Google Apps Marketplace: Heavy Snake, a remake of the classic Nokia game Snake; and Quickslide, a tile-sliding game and recently-nominated TIGA finalist in the social game category. Featured by Scottish Development International at its stand at the 2016 Games Developers’ Conference in San Francisco, Stand Out Games is also developing the mobile game Hotel Havok, a 2.5D side-scrolling adventure, and VR games for the Oculus Rift, with
one VR title in development – Chariot Chasers – which it is looking forward to releasing towards the end of this year. Dundee has a long-established reputation in the games sector, with Abertay University being home to both the world’s first computer games degree courses and the UK’s first centre of excellence for computer games. Maintaining its status as one of the best universities at which to study games design, as recognised by The Princeton Review 2015, Abertay offers a range of Skillset-accredited undergraduate courses in games technology, art and management. Postgraduate opportunities include a Masters in Games Development (MProf), plus various PhD research options. AMONG THE MANY innovative approaches developed at Abertay is Cinemotus, a collection of techniques and methodologies that allow games hardware to mimic the behaviour of high-end virtual production systems currently employed in Hollywood; a proof of concept technology dubbed internally as “taking movies beyond Avatar, for under £100”. In the last six years the film industry has been shifting to a new film-making technique known as ‘virtual production’. This technique is employed particularly in films that utilise a large proportion of computer-generated elements, or entirely 3D animated films. The initial techniques were pioneered during the production of Avatar. For the first time, it is now possible to per-
form traditional camera work – which has a much more organic, creative feel – in computer-generated media. There is growing demand for virtual production in areas of the film production pipeline such as pre-visualisation and scene layout. This digital storyboarding process is used to establish the make-up of every scene and shot before films enter production. Even major studios with virtual production systems cannot give access to the technology to the whole creative pipeline because of the expense. Cinemotus has been developed as a commercial plug-in software for the industry-standard 3D modelling package. It uses an off-the-shelf gaming motion controller as a motion capture device and allows the user to perform the same virtual production techniques as the high-end Hollywood hardware for a fraction of the cost, right at their desk or by remote, networked, control. It also encompasses a set of library functions that allows the virtual camera system to work in any real-time visualisation system. It provides a potential cost effective solution for film and other media production pipelines. Research is ongoing using the latest iterations of games hardware and branching out to include other cutting edge interactive technologies, such as virtual reality, to blur the edges between the games and film industry even further. As an internal university technology, Cinemotus is also an integral component of several ongoing research projects.
Scottish Enterprise provides training and support to high growth companies based in Scotland Attract investment; develop your management team; do business outside Scotland; develop your organisation; develop new products and services; license technology; improve your business practices; support for entrepreneurs. https://www.scottish-enterprise.com/ services
Continued on page 16
VR, AR & AI
28 September 2016
Digitisation of construction Data and gaming science will play a pivotal role in the built environment’s future
VR and AR will be revolutionary in business and industry and in the design of civic and personal spaces
BY WILLIAM PEAKIN Construction Scotland Innovation Centre’s (CSIC) postgraduate programme is to support 30 Scottish and EU students in this academic year, double the previous number. The students will follow courses across 13 Scottish universities in a diverse range of subject areas including civil engineering, product design, data science, gaming science, international human resources and environmental design. It is hoped these graduates will help address the skills shortages in many areas of the Scottish construction industry. Funded by the Scottish Funding Council, the centre is supported by Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and 11 Scottish universities. Working with the Scottish Funding Council, CSIC will part-fund the course fees of the students, who will also benefit from working closely with industry, contributing to industry research and helping participating businesses achieve higher levels of innovation and productivity. The students have begun their new course and will engage with CSIC throughout their studies. The final three months of their year-long course will be a research project, either working on a challenge set by a participating Scottish construction business or on wider industry challenges linked to carbon emissions, future cities and the digitisation of construction. Towards the end of their research, the students will take part in a hackathon to share knowledge and work together with industry experts over an
intensive weekend to hack ideas and solutions to these challenges. Bruce Newlands, head of technical operations at Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and the postgraduate programme co-ordinator said: “Skills shortages across the construction industry are a pressing problem. This programme is one of the ways that CSIC aims to bring fresh talent
“Students will study courses in a diverse range of subject areas including civil engineering, product design, data science and gaming science”
into the Scottish construction industry from a broad range of disciplines. “The students will benefit from part payment of their studies, industry engagement, access to CSIC facilities and networks. In turn they will help our industry with new perspectives, cutting edge technology and research support over the three-month period where they will focus on industry challenges.”
‘I rose above the clouds to see … Michael Fassbender floating in front of me. And Melissa McCarthy leisurely gliding past on my right’ BY MATILDA BORGSTROM To some, virtual reality may seem like no more than a gimmick, but after a trip to the Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival’s Virtual Reality Studio this summer, it’s clear that it is here to stay and that it is already changing the way we consume news and documentaries. The Edinburgh Digital Entertainment Festival (EDEF) was the latest addition to the wealth of festivals and events that the city plays host to every August. Offering, in their own words, a combination of “arts, entertainment and technology”, it aimed to “showcase the best of what is happening right now and provoke the conversation about what comes next”. It comprised a street cinema hosted in a lorry,
games workshops and a tech hub offering the chance to interact with ‘future’ tech. I, however, had come there for one thing and one thing only: virtual reality. When I was younger, virtual reality seemed like the kind of impossible technology that was the reserve of cheesy 1990s movies wanting to seem futuristic. Case in point: one gloriously strange episode of Murder She Wrote features Angela Lansbury’s murder mystery writer/solver writing a virtual reality game entitled ‘A Murder at Hastings Rock’ for a VR headset start-up. Suddenly, with the meteoric rise of Oculus Rift and VR headsets like it, that Murder She Wrote episode has gone from laughably unlikely to not far off the mark.
The EDEF VR studio offered the chance to “explore innovative documentaries, playful animation and hair-raising experiences”. After having chosen my first film at random, I was transported to a city street at night, surrounded suddenly by traffic and the soundscape of a bustling city. I BARELY HAD time to look around, familiarising myself with the seamless 360 view, before I rose through the air, seeing the street I had just been standing on grow smaller and smaller and eventually disappear beneath me. As someone with a moderate fear of heights, this was a tense yet thrilling experience. I rose above the clouds to see … Michael Fassbender floating in front of me. And Melissa McCarthy leisurely
gliding past on my right. Needless to say, my first choice of film had been one of the stranger offerings on the programme. After hanging out with celebrities in the sky, I worked my way through the rest of the programme, experiencing everything from swimming with dolphins to being taken on a tour through the Calais migrant camp. Though many of the films, like a trip up the very top of the One World Trade Center, seemed to be there mainly to showcase the thrillingly immersive nature of the VR headset, my biggest take-away from the experience was how well suited the format was to documentaries. Putting the viewer inside the story you want to tell makes it so much more real. The empathy that I imagine so many documentary makers want to
elicit from viewers comes much more easily when it feels like you’re standing right next to the person telling their story. Even major news outlets have caught on to this, with The Guardian producing a VR experience of a 6×9 feet US solitary confinement cell. Regardless of whether you prefer using VR to take thrilling rollercoaster rides, play games or to experience the battle of Falluja with The New York Times VR app, virtual reality is here to stay. Now the real question is: What else did Murder She Wrote predict? Matilda Borgstrom runs the FutureScot social media accounts: https://www.facebook.com/FutureScot/ https://twitter.com/FutureScot_News https://www.linkedin.com/company/ futurescot
28 September 2016
‘Precision medicine’ is about to get extremely close up. And personal. Software developed by Edinburgh-based Toshiba Medical Visualisation Systems can help show the human heart pulsing in 4-D, and in real-time
Imaging systems are set to combine with big data to give clinicians greater scope to develop personalised patient treatment packages
BY KEVIN O’SULLIVAN In a small office in Edinburgh a team of scientists and software engineers are changing the face of global medicine. If you think back to just a few years ago, images of the human body were viewed on X-ray film held up to the light. Grayscale, one dimensional and difficult to understand. No longer. Thanks to the work of imaging and data visualisation specialists within Toshiba Medical Visualisation Systems, which has links to Edinburgh University’s world-leading School of Informatics, images of the disease process within the human body are becoming ever clearer. From 2-D, to 3-D, and now 4-D in just a few short years, progress has been rapid, and the consequences represent a major shift in how clinicians such as cardiologists, can treat patients, according to the company’s President, Dr Ken Sutherland. “If you look at how we can now image the heart, you can see it in lots of dimensions,” he explains. “You can even see the valve opening and shutting in real-time. It’s amazing, it’s literally amazing to see that.” Sutherland explains how these images allow specialists to see inside the body and take much more precise measurements of the heart’s function than they could before. They can look at its volume, and how that changes while the heart is beating, and its efficiency as a pump, allowing them to spot when a “leaky valve” reduces that effectiveness – and to take action accordingly. “We’re doing genuinely worldleading work,” he says. “Which is great for Edinburgh; yet again we’ve got five universities in top 200 in the world. It’s well beyond what you would expect for a country of our size.” While the change in medical imaging has indeed been rapid, there is also change afoot within the company itself. It was acquired by the Japanese tech
giant some years ago, and is now facing a fresh overhaul. Although the deal is yet to be finalised, the firm is in the process of being taken over by Canon (another Japanese tech giant), following a well-documented accounting scandal around 18 months ago within Toshiba. “We’re transitioning from being part of Toshiba corporate to Canon corporate,” Sutherland explains. “It has caused a bit of uncertainty and caused us to pull back from a couple of things here, but what I want to do is to make sure the general public and business community in Scotland know we’re alive and well.” IN FACT, THE company is in rude
health. As part of Toshiba Medical, it was one of the few parts of the Toshiba business that was profitable and growing. Its imaging systems are in virtually every single hospital in Scotland, and it is exploring new opportunities within both the medical imaging systems it currently provides software for, but also for a new and emerging part of medicine: so-called ‘stratified medicine’. “We’re very much at an investment phase now,” says Sutherland. “There are lots of things we can already do,
“You can even see the valve opening and shutting in real-time. It’s amazing, it’s literally amazing to see that”
and can do better, and there are new areas we think are going to change the shape of medicine in the next three to five years. Stratified medicine, or precision medicine as others call it, is a potential game changer. “Essentially what it means is stratifying your patient population, looking principally at the genetics of the population and then steering people down different care pathways depending upon their genetics. Today, clinicians think about diseases as one disease but in reality you and I could have the same chronic ailment like hypertension or diabetes but the actual cellular mechanisms at play in our own bodies could be significantly different, even though the symptoms are very similar.” Sutherland explains that emerging science will potentially allow patients to be treated more precisely according to the particular variant of a condition they may have, and therefore that will lead to a demand for imaging systems to become ever more accurate. “We imagine in the not-too-distant future that the clinical decision making process will change and we’re saying that people will want imaging to be more precise, so that means higher resolution images, which enable us to
look for early indicators of disease. So it’s those underlying cellular mechanisms we will try to image for.” WITH THE future focus also likely to be
on the increased collection of patient data, allowing real-time monitoring and, in some cases, patients taking a more prominent role in the management of their own long-term conditions, Sutherland – who is also keen to recruit the data scientists that can make this happen – sees an expanded role for companies like his. “Our core business now is imaging but in three to five years I think it will be imaging and other data, including analytics,” he says. “We already have a collaboration in place with Glasgow Uni/QEUH which has a fantastic reputation in stratified/precision medicine. Through this collaboration we’re investigating next-generation software tools that will exploit imaging within a precision medicine model of healthcare. And from just a relatively small team in Edinburgh we have the potential – as part of a much bigger international company – to take our work and export it to healthcare systems around the world, which I think is really something worth celebrating.”
Artificial intelligence ‘smart glasses’ for blind showcased in Glasgow Smart glasses that use artificial intelligence to help blind and partially-sighted people were showcased in Glasgow earlier this month. The OrCam MyEye, developed by Israel-based firm OrCam, uses AI built into a smart camera on a wearer’s glasses and can recognise text from newspapers, street signs, supermarkets and other sources, relaying it back to the user through a built-in earpiece.
The system also includes facial recognition software and can recognise names and faces from previous meetings. “OrCam’s mission is to harness the power of artificial vision to improve the lives of people who are blind and partially sighted,” said Eliav Rodman, director of marketing at OrCam Technologies. “MyEye is the most advanced technology providing visual aid through a discreet, wearable platform and
easy-to-use interface.” The glasses were displayed at TechShare Europe, organised by sight loss charity RNIB in the Glasgow Science Centre, an event aimed at demonstrating the revolutionary potential of new technology. Other innovations were a driverless car that steers by a 360-degree sensor system and an electronic braille-dot display that puts information at your fingertips. Speakers from technology
giants Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft were also on the bill to talk about how they could enhance the accessibility of their products. Steve Tyler, head of solutions, strategy and planning at RNIB, said: “TechShare is already Europe’s leading accessible technology conference and this year’s is set to be the biggest one yet. The event regularly brings to Glasgow leading technology profes-
sionals from across the globe along with people from health and social care, housing, transport, education and leisure. “Improving accessibility for blind and partially-sighted people to everyday products and activities is the hallmark of RNIB and it is great that the world’s biggest technology companies are helping to lead the way in making that happen.”
28 September 2016
‘We will raise, no matter what’ It is all about patience and persistence; Glasgow startup MindMate’s summer at a New York-based accelerator
MindMate co-founders Patrick Renner, Susanne Mitschke and Roger Arellano
BY SUSANNE MITSCHKE Techstars is clearly one of the most challenging, and at the same time most rewarding experiences we have ever had. It completely changed the way we look at start-ups, business models and growth. Our entire business plan and product changed in just three months — it made our start-up better, a lot better. The support we are getting from the whole Techstars network is not only changing our start-up, but our whole lives. Through Techstars, we have access to the most successful entrepreneurs worldwide, like Dennis Crowley, who Co-Founded Foursquare; David Karp, who is CEO of tumblr; or Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. FUNDRAISING
One of our goals for Techstars was clearly raising funds after the programme. We raised successfully an angel round in the UK, and were honoured that the amazing Doug Scott of Potential.VC was our lead investor. I can tell you that raising funds in the UK and in the US are two completely different worlds. In the US raising funds is an art. It is a game, which you need to play, but you have to understand the rules first. Techstars is world-class in teaching founders the game and art of fundraising. One whole month is dedicated to it, in which we not only have mockinvestor meetings, they also teach us how to be smarter fundraisers, what a good and a bad deal is (and how to spot it in a few seconds), what a usual process looks like, and when to say no, even just to meet an investor. At the end of the programme, we also have the opportunity to meet investors (VCs and Business Angels) from the US east and west coasts. This creates huge momentum for the deal and great exposure for MindMate. Meeting Investors is a lot like dating in high-school. You have to act cool, in
no way should you make the impression that you really need that money. To make the best impression on the investors, you need to be prepared. Before your meet investors, go on their AngelList profile, their LinkedIn, and their website. Get to know the investors and the fund. You can easily see, if your start-up is aligned with their investment philosophy, and their prior investments, and if you should bother talking to them. For example, if somebody never invested into mobile, and you have an app, it is very unlikely that they will invest. A lot of investor questions are repetitive in the first meetings: market
“Our key learning was a change in mind-set; we, the entrepreneurs, give investors the opportunity to invest in our business” size, business model, high-profile data analytics, team, story. But, some investors have a different mind-set, different questions, different standpoints. If you fumble, it is important that you stay honest! Don’t bull**** about numbers, projections or anything else. If you
don’t know something, stay calm, admit that you don’t know, and get back to them with the answer to a later point. Keep in mind that Investors are also humans, and if they back-off because of this, they would not have been the right investors for your business anyway.
Overall, Techstars made the MindMate team to better fundraisers. Our key learning was a change in mind-set: We, the entrepreneurs, give investors the opportunity to invest in our business early; we will raise, no matter what. You will always hear more ‘no’ than ‘yes’. It is important that you move on quickly, because at the end of the day, investors also just want to get good deals, and bet on the right horse. Eventually, you will find the right investor for your business, it is all about patience and persistence. Susanne Mitschke is chief executive of MindMate.
Turning an idea into reality As founders, we often get a surprised reaction when people find out what we are doing, writes Susanne Mitschke. “You are helping people with Alzheimer’s? Why? You are all so young?” The reason why we are doing what we are doing is a personal one: Roger, our CTO, cared in total for seven years for his grandfather with Alzheimer’s. This time was very hard for the whole family – they needed something to engage him, to keep his mind active, despite the disease. Patrick and I both volunteered in care centres, and had experience with people in very late stages of Alzheimer’s. With MindMate, our aims are clear:
We want to make people with Alzheimer’s more independent; we want to improve the caring process; and we want to give family-members a greater peace of mind. When we first had the idea of MindMate, we immediately started talking to people, to get feedback. We applied to entrepreneurship competitions, like the Scottish Institute for Enterprise’s Young Innovators Challenge, Converge Challenge, Santander Universities Challenge and so on. With this early support and feedback, we were able to build MindMate’s foundation. And who knew that we are one year later at Techstars NYC
– ranked the second best best start-up accelerator in the world. The programme, from which we clearly benefitted the most is Enterprise Campus. This is a programme specifically for postgraduate students, which offers training, workshops, networking opportunities, and also money! It helps young entrepreneurs to create traction and not have to worry too much about bills, such as a small marketing spend, or the cost of a trademark. Glasgow University also supported us a lot with free office space. For us, the office was a crucial point in our early days – this is where the magic hap-
pened. Without all these programmes, MindMate would not be where we are now, and we are very grateful to have had these opportunities. And, I truly believe that this is something special about Scotland. I believe that the success of MindMate comes mainly from the fact that we worked from day one with people that live with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. We have a focus group of 15 people; and we still work very closely with them. These people helped us to test our Alpha, and Beta Version until we opened it up to another 100 people. These early users from all over the
UK helped us to detect bugs, get the design right and create an acceptable user experience. As soon as these people were happy, we opened MindMate to the public. In the meantime, we have several ten thousands of users, the NHS Trust Greater Glasgow & Clyde picked up MindMate, and we are being used in several care facilities in the UK and USA. Even though we now have good traction, we are not done growing and developing our product. Our growth, and product development is aggressive, and this is only possible through pure dedication, passion and hard work.
INVESTMENT & LEGAL
28 September 2016
Indoor location finding firm wins SE funding Software tackles poor signal areas such as shopping centres and airports BY WILLIAM PEAKIN Sensewhere, the indoor positioning company, has been awarded £1.4m by Scottish Enterprise to create jobs and develop its technology. The firm is pioneering the use of location and navigation data in dense urban areas, including shopping centres and airports, where GPS and other systems are blocked. It uses a database of electromagnetic sources, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth signals and other sensors to triangulate a user’s location. The grant will help create seven highly-skilled roles at the company’s headquarters in Edinburgh and secure existing jobs. The aim is to enhance the technology’s location accuracy performance indoors and outdoors, and across platforms. Rob Palfreyman, co-founder and chief executive, said: “Our technology creates opportunities for people and brands to connect with others. Shopping centres, for example, often have little or no signal, but with our software retailers and brands can connect with customers through location-based advertising in a way that’s simple, fast and accurate.
Sensewhere’s aim is to enhance location accuracy, performance indoors and outdoors, and across platforms
“As well as creating a number of jobs and protecting existing posts, this grant will help us cement our commitment to Edinburgh as our centre of excellence for research.” Jim Devine, chairman of Sensewhere, added: “We are delighted to have received support from Scottish Enterprise to develop our intellectual property. With this funding we can continue to make waves in the market.” Jim Watson, director of innovation and enterprise services at Scottish Enterprise said: “Sensewhere is a great example of an ambitious Scottish company that’s developing innovative technology for global markets.” SENSEWHERE WAS one of two
Edinburgh firms among UK technology companies raising investments totaling £294m in August. According to the Tech City News investment tracker, the number of rounds announced was 17, which is lower than the previous month but the total amount raised was higher. This is largely due to Deliveroo closing its series E round at £210m. Notonthehighstreet.com also closed its series E funding round at £21m. While the bulk of companies were London-based, two rounds were raised by firms based in Edinburgh. As well as Senswehere, TVSquared, a firm that provides performance insights into the efficiency of TV advertising, raised £2.3m. Anna Boffetta, an investor with Balderton Capital, said that the impact
of Brexit had not been as severe as many had feared: “The volume of companies raising investment for the first time is down compared with the same period in 2015, but this is not cause for panic. The response has been minor, measured and proportionate and the best companies will continue to raise money.” Pyreos, the Edinburgh-based passive infra-red sensor developer, secured £1.8m of funding from new and existing shareholders in September as it
continues to expand its business. The company, which was spun out from German industrial firm Siemens in 2007, will use the cash to accelerate development and marketing of its products and sensor components, including the ezPyro sensor, which it launched in May this year. ezPyro, which has a built-in digital interface, has a broad range of applications, including the detection of flames in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries, the analysis of gases by
industrial laboratories or universities, and in smart watches, fitness trackers and other wearable technology. Elevator, the Aberdeen-based social enterprise dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs and businesses, has signed with two new partners for its accelerator programme. Commercial law firm Burness Paull and Pinnacle – an Aberdeen-based software developer – will provide financial support for the programme and advice and support to company founders.
‘Here be Dragons’: the risks of outsourcing data to third parties Businesses have been stung by not having appropriate supplier checks or contracts, warns Brodies LLP BY DAMIEN BEHAN AND ALISDAIR MATHESON We live in what would, to our 10-yearold selves, have seemed liked a science fiction future. An amazing inter-connected world where goods and services are just a few clicks away, the sum total of human knowledge is available from your smartphone, and in which, thanks to the internet ‘intelligent’ fridges will soon be able to order our groceries. However, with that flexibility and convenience come new opportunities for criminals and hackers, and the need for a much greater awareness of security. As organisations become more
focused on their value-add to customers, technology makes it ever-easier to outsource non-core activities to third parties. Modern businesses rely heavily on outsourcing, whether for software development, cloud computing or even legal services. However, each time access to your data or to your premises is granted, whether onsite or via a remote data centre, risks can arise. WHILE MODERN technology enables
flexibility, it creates new weaknesses, often in unexpected ways. A pertinent example was the data breach suffered by the US high street retailer Target in late 2013, in which millions of its customers’ payment card details were stolen by hackers. The criminals stole the login credentials of a third-party supplier that looked after Target’s refrigeration, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. The network access the supplier had been granted to maintain these systems ultimately allowed hackers to install malware on card readers in Target’s shops to harvest customers’ card details. The
direct cost to Target as of late 2015 was somewhere in the region of $162 million, plus a further $90 million in insurance claims, and significant damage to its brand. SO HOW DO you protect your business from third party supplier risk? Firstly, make sure you set out clearly what you are responsible for in any contract with people whom you supply. Make sure you do the same with your own suppliers’ contracts and provide minimum standards and suitable indemnities for any loss or compromise of data you provided to them, and indemnities relative to your systems should something go wrong. Though relatively new, cyber cover will become as common as property or business interruption insurance and will mitigate the cost and impact of cyber breaches. If you grant access to your premises or systems, restrict what the supplier can do using a “least privilege” approach – they should have access to carry out their contracted duties, but nothing more. Ensure that staff
are vetted and trained in data security, and that they are aware of your own policies. Finally, audit your suppliers. Each supplier is different, and your sandwich provider will obviously require a different level of scrutiny to your payroll or data centre provider, so assess the risk on a case-by-case basis. Look for evidence of compliance with recognised industry standards, such as ISO 27001: 2013 or Cyber Essentials Plus, which demonstrate a mature approach to security in their business. While this new world is exciting and fast moving, there is also a potential for damage to the reputation, and even the existence, of your business. Like the pioneering ancient mariners who explored uncharted territories adorned with sea monsters on their maps, heed the warning – Here Be Dragons. Damien Behan, IT Director, Brodies LLP and Alisdair Matheson, Partner, Dispute Resolution & Litigation, Brodies LLP. For more information, contact Alisdair on 0141-245 6762 or at email@example.com.
Damien Behan (top) and Alisdair Matheson, of Brodies LLP, warn about the risks of outsourcing data to third party entities