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The challenges to be solved...

Challenge 1: How can we combat bird of prey persecution? 

Challenge Sponsor: Cairngorms National Park Authority & Scottish National Heritage

Wildlife crime is difficult to combat, prevent and apprehend as it generally takes place in remote areas away from population, and involves species that cover significant distances. This is especially true of birds of prey - or raptors. It’s also on the increase, threatens the health of the environments it occurs in, and is also a criminal activity - so those involved take significant steps to cover up any evidence of the incident, and their involvement in it. 

In Scotland we use small satellite transmitters [attached harmlessly to birds of prey] to monitor them and study their ecology. They can also help us prevent and / or identify wildlife crime hot spots. But the upload of information from these transmitters is not constant, and the number of birds whose transmitters suddenly stop operating is increasing. When site searches take place, they often fail to find the bird or the transmitter. We think that at least in some of these cases, the transmitters are being deliberately disabled by humans: we don’t know the ways in which this is done but think they will include physical destruction and / or burying.

So the Challenge is this –

How can we combat bird of prey persecution? Is there a technological solution that could help reduce raptor crime by making it difficult for anyone to kill a bird without getting caught? Or is there a way to ensure we can find destroyed or hidden transmitters? Or at the very least, is there a way we can be certain of the last known location – one accurately recorded and in a tamper proof way?

Challenge 2: How can we track visitors to historic sites?

Challenge Sponsor: Historic Environment Scotland

Track visitors to Scotland’s historic attraction

Historic Environment Scotland’s mission is to protect, conserve and manage Scotland’s historic environment for the enjoyment, enrichment and benefit of everyone – including the people of Scotland, visitors to Scotland, and future generations.As part of this we’re responsible for 336 properties in care [PICs]. Some of these like Edinburgh Castle and Skara Brae are well known, high profile, staffed and well connected. Others – such as Dun Dornaigil Broch and Eilean Mor - are far smaller, often remote, and do not benefit from the kind of connectivity that makes standard monitoring systems either easy or affordable to operate. But all of them are of national importance, and the more we know about their use the better we can plan, and allocate important conservation resources.When sites are staffed and / or well connected, monitoring them is usually fairly straightforward. But many of our PICs are spread across the country in diverse geographical locations to which access is difficult, have extremely limited - or no - connectivity of any kind, have no power supply, and are not staffed [255 out of our 336 PICs are unstaffed].

So the Challenge is this -

How can we track visitors to historic sites in a way that is low-cost, robust and reliable, and in a way that means we can get the information in a timely manner, regardless of location, connectivity and power conditions?


Challenge 3: How can we better use and understand citizen data?

Challenge Sponsor: NHS National Services Scotland and the Scottish Government

Finding statistical information in Scotland often involves a lengthy and difficult process requiring calling, writing to, and browsing the websites of multiple organisations including the Scottish Government, the NHS and National Records Scotland. The task is made more difficult because data is held in different formats across a variety of very different systems, which often have completely different access rules and require different skill sets to fully utilise.

This has to change if the value of the nation’s statistical information is to be realised, and we need to find a way to ensure that as many people as possible are able to make use of the resources we have. Critical to this is improving our understanding of customer needs, so that the way the customer engages with the information becomes as effective, efficient and user-friendly as possible. In short, we need to transform the customer experience.

Therefore NSS and the Scottish Government have come together to jointly sponsor this Challenge, which is –

How can we better use and understand citizen data, in a way that maximises access to Scotland’s statistical information for everyone, whatever level their technical competency is, in way that is as safe, effective, efficient, seamless, and user-friendly as possible?

Challenge 4: Can we create a smarter booking system for outpatient appointments?

Challenge Sponsor: NHS

Create a smarter booking system for outpatient appointments

NHS Scotland manages over 4.5 million outpatient appointments a year, of which 3 million are routine follow-ups. Clinicians traditionally book these follow-ups at regular intervals such as every six months, or annually. But in reality some of these are simply not needed as a new appointment is only necessary if the condition of the patient changes, which in the case of a successfully completed treatment will often not happen. While these appointments act as safeguards for the clinician, they do not benefit the patient, cost the NHS money that could be better spent elsewhere, and places unnecessary time demands time on both the clinician and the patient.

The situation gets worse because while outpatients who see no need for the follow-up will usually try to cancel the appointment, the only way to do this is by calling which itself can be extremely inconvenient. There are others who – possibly because the repeat appointment is set so far in advance – simply forget to about the appointment. For these reasons, NHS Scotland is facing a growing rate of Did Not Attends [DNAs], and these, together with follow-up enquiries as to why people did not attend, put yet further strains on the NHS’s resources.

So the Challenge is this -

Can we create a smarter booking system for outpatient appointments in NHS Scotland, so patients are given the flexibility to manage and book the appointments that they need  and unnecessary appointments are avoided.

Challenge 5: How can we use technology to provide better access to public services through

Challenge Sponsor:

Citizens have increasing shifted towards online information and self-help, and the Scottish Government has responded with as its citizen facing website. Currently this has some 1,500 pages of flat content and will grow significantly over the next few years. This will present challenges about how we can best ensure citizens get the information they need as quickly, fully and easily as possible. 

In this, we cannot rely on any particular level of search knowhow, or on any set of prescribed search terms: people in the real world don’t work that way. Problems that can occur include too many page links, links to irrelevant information, and links to potentially misleading information. These are all issues: a study by University College, London found that people when searching generally spend less that one minute on a page, and less than 10 minutes on a full search. In short, if the information isn’t available straight
away, in a straightforward manner, it’s not used.

We believe tech advances provide opportunities to solve these issues, so the Challenge is this -

As the volume of content on increases, how can we create a way for citizens to access the public information they need via this website in a way that is easily accessible and user-friendly?

We’re fairly sure at this stage that one part of the solution will be to capture the information at the start of an enquiry that will establish a user’s needs and the context of those needs, and so identify the information required for a full and appropriate response. A successful solution would create a pathway and signposting option for the user so they can make informed choices about where to go next, and where the enquiry is about a particular course of action, the solution would deliver outcome expectations [for example, the likelihood of success, and associated costs].

Challenge 6: How can we harness the power of data to create the most positive perception of Scotland across the world?

Challenge Sponsor: Scottish Enterprise

Harness the power of data to improve perceptions of Scotland overseas

The way the world thinks and feels about Scotland is vitally important to the nation’s economy. It has a direct impact on its growth, and the type and volume of investment we attract. Foreign investment brings high value jobs, increased research and development, and improves the overall productivity of Scotland’s economy. As a nation we attract more foreign direct investment investment than most other parts of the UK outside of London, and an important element of this is efficient communication of our proposition through Scottish Enterprise’s extensive network of ambassadors, advocates and social commentators. However, we live in an increasingly competitive digital environment in which nothing stands still, so we need to be smarter, quicker and better than anyone else in order to stand out from the crowd.

So the Challenge is this -

How can we mobilise our networks by harnessing the power of data [real time content, stats and stories], and all appropriate communication channels including our extensive networks of ambassadors, advocates and social commentators, to create the most positive perception of Scotland as a business location across the world?

A successful solution would provide Scottish Enterprise with a prototype that it, and subsequently partners, could put to good use.

Challenge 7: How can we better understand our data to improve all aspects of services?

Challenge Sponsor: Stirling Council

The current challenge facing Stirling Council is that we have a limited understanding of what our customers require from us, and how well we respond to those needs and demands. While predominantly these customers constitute the people who live in our area, they also include people who visit us, and the people who work with us. Whoever they are, our customers make contact to a wide range of council staff, through various channels, and at all times of day and night. And the reasons they contact us will be for a wide range of reasons. Crucially, the way we record and store the contact including what it concerns and action taken also varies.

So the Challenge is –

How can we better understand our data to improve all aspects of our services?

We’re looking for a solution to help us collect customer contacts [everything about, and resulting from them] from the different channels used, in an easy and user friendly manner. We’d like a solution to give us a better understanding of the reasons why our customers contact us; to gather, distil and make visible data that helps us to design our services, processes and procedures better; and to identify trends so we can pro-actively take action.

We intend to gradually increase the online services we provide, and ideally a solution would take this into account so that the solution is as far as possible future-proofed.


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