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News | 09 Feb 2021

Scotland lays down the technology gauntlet to businesses at CivTech 5.0 Demo Week

Scotland’s annual technology festival, CivTech, took place virtually last week with three days of presentations, interviews and exhibitions bringing together the Scottish public and private sectors.

Part of the Scottish Government’s Digital Directorate, CivTech is tasked with solving challenges facing Scotland’s public services using private sector tactics, such as idea hackathons and start-up accelerators.

Could the Internet of Things create safer social housing or help manage deer populations in the wild?

Vodafone Business sponsored the event and Head of Scotland and Northern Ireland, Kim Moran-Hogg and team spoke alongside technology partners, Cisco, on the third day.

Vodafone’s Unified Communications expert, Roddy Alexander, began by explaining how video conferencing tools can help to fight isolation and loneliness during lockdown. Using interactive apps like Sli.Do could make calls more engaging, he argued, and he gave advice on how to balance virtual and physical working to reduce long-distance commutes.

Cisco’s Gary Daley then impressed the audience with Cisco Meraki, a cloud-based network management platform, centrally controlled via a simple dashboard and available through Vodafone Business. Gary explained that Cisco Meraki is popular with national services across the world, offering everything from on-site Wi-Fi to video-calling, security to body-language recognition.

Throughout the event, which also included an opening keynote speech from Kate Forbes, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals were high on the agenda.

And in a crowd-sourcing idea session like no other, CivTech mapped their public sector challenges to everyday school subjects and extended them to pupils across the country.

Geography classes explored the carbon savings that connected farming could achieve and maths classes looked at how rural bus journeys might adapt if the driver knew when a stop had passengers waiting.

Vodafone’s Lead for the Scottish Government, Kirste Johnston, joined the Lockdown Live home learning stream alongside CivTech’s Barbara Mills, to show how Vodafone technology could help to tackle societal problems outlined by Transport Scotland and the Forestry Commission.

Kirste spoke about Vodafone UK’s Connected Living trial with UK Charity, Mencap, and its work with the Scottish Council for Voluntary Services to support digital inclusion. She also shared her own career journey and the wide variety of jobs available for young people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

Despite the grave challenges of the pandemic, speakers and attendees alike shared an optimism that the right technology can help to rebuild a better Scotland for all.

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