CivTech® 2.0 Q&A: Historic Environment Scotland


Good afternoon everyone welcome to the CivTech live Q&A with Historic Environment Scotland
I have Helen and Nick here with me today I’ll let the guys introduce themselves I’m Nick Thomas, head of commercial performance and systems at
its Historic environment Scotland so my role is in two broad areas one is
looking after our commercial systems the other part is understanding the
commercial dynamics of our business so the visitor numbers and income and the
business forecasting from that I’m Helen Ord and I’m helping project manage this relation with CivTech which will hopefully be a fantastic solution going forward I have a few questions before we start you guys decided to do
this with CivTech but I know that you guys have also did your research and
what’s currently out there in the market so I’d like to talk to you our viewers a
little bit about that… you understand that stuff out there but why is not fit for what you are looking for? so there are visitor counters out
there in the market and we run some very large sites we know we’ve got very good
visibility the number of visitors going through even profiles or some of those
and groups of visitors but we have a now 336 sites across Scotland and and not all of them are edinburgh castle or stirling
castle there are Pictish stones there are fields in the middle of nowhere
we have to manage those as well as best we can some of them are very remote in fact many of them are very remote and we have problems with lack of connectivity
no electricity and I suppose in terms of those traditional visitor counters if we
have multiple access points or not even an obvious access point if it’s just a
picture stone in the middle of a field a standard visitor counter ain’t gonna work. You also problems with standard visitor counters because that differentiation
between cows and people and we’ve got some sort of funny anecdotal stories of
a sudden spike in visitor numbers at some of our sites then you work out that
actually it was just a herd of cows so.. but we’re trying to
look for something that’s a little bit more innovative that is not just your
standard visitor counter and I know that Nick his team and the conservation
teams as well at HES have done a lot of research into visitor counters and we’ve
got a lot of history countries already at sites where we know we can we know
where access points are we know where to put them so this is about actually
looking a little bit more outside the box and so we can understand visitor
numbers we can then start to plan Nick can start to plan for our commercial
plans for the future we can also look at the conservation element and looking
after a lot of these sites the degradation of the land of the monuments
themselves and that’s a very long-winded answer The other
part of it is existing visitor counters and sites require staff
to go to those locations to download information and if we rule that out to
all of our sites we don’t have the staff to go and do that downloading so one of
the key parts of this challenge is trying to get a solution where the data
is transferred back to a database centrally and but also from locations
with no Wi-Fi or 4G potentially so that’s kind of to me the unique aspect
of this particular challenge so in your experience and through your research we
could say that whatever is created through
if successful if it does what you guys are looking for it will be potentially a
product that it will be wanted to other other organizations that currently use the
current systems for visitor counters so if this goes step forward the commercial
opportunities are there absolutely, most places have restrictions on headcount and staffing and most places that are forward-looking want data so you
know you take those two angles in particular and if you can solve those
angles get a good cost-effective solution out there that has people run
their business and plan for the future I know that Cairngorms National Park is
another challenge sponsor they have their own challenge out there but people
like national parks you know they’re going to want they have the same kind of
problems that we have with degradation of the paths you know the erosion so
again understanding the visitors where they’re going is quite important and we
have our own little mini version of a national park which is Hollywood Park
here in Edinburgh where we got 4G but multiple access points huge increase in visitor numbers but just to understand actually
really what is that rather than just putting your finger in the air and
making guesstimate personally I’m really looking forward for the first
of june to read out the applications for this challenge because I think it’s
one of the most challenging challenges CivTech has had so I’m really looking
forward to see the innovation coming from these guys and the products
suggested so we’re going to go on to the questions from our viewers
we’re going to be live live on YouTube for the next 45 minutes or so or an hour
depending on how many questions we have if you have any questions send them
through to our mailbox is [email protected] we won’t be checking
Twitter Facebook LinkedIn or any of that the only questions that I’ll read out
are the ones coming into our mailbox so so I’m going
to read out the first question could you please clarify what is
expected by the term real time is it real time as in just after the visit is checked in or the data is
accessible remotely in real time yeah from my perspective it’s being able to access the data real time not
necessarily the moment a visitor comes to one of our sites so it’s the latter
of those two for me what is the threshold
of accuracy required in the counting of visitors for example what quantitative
margin of error would be acceptable given the sites are different in nature
and a solution may yield variable results that’s a interesting question
and I don’t have a specific answer in terms of percentages and accuracy and I
think the main thing thing for us is we understand how it can be calibrated and
making sure there’s a consistent like for like counting mechanism the whole
way through its lifecycle so it doesn’t change whenever we receive trends we
know those trends are in a like for like basis so I think different sites will
potentially require different levels of accuracy but as long as we have some way
of understanding what those are and I think that’s probably good enough for us
we are talking about very very very remote areas and with vegetation livestock etc
so we know there will be some kind of inaccuracy in that code but as long as
it’s as robust as we can expect that should be fine I think I’ll chip in
a question from myself which is out of the other sites 336 do you have any any indication on what percentage is manned
what percentages without connectivity do you have any indication on this or it
could be that you share that at exploration stage out of 336 locations, about 77 are staffed visitor attractions and most of them have power
and connectivity and so leaves 240 odds of unstaffed locations and but they’re
in such a huge variety of locations that it’s difficult to say right now how many
of those have 4G potential for Wi-Fi or connectivity and I think it would be safe to
make a rough guess to say the majority do not have
any proper good connectivity since we’re on this… could you give us an example of a real remote site
with no connectivity what does that look like even some of our staffed sites
have no connectivity so or by difficult connectivity so slice like Inchcolm abbey
on Inchcolm Island in the middle of the Maid of the Forth and we recently installed
satellite broadband which is really really slow so that’s an obvious one
they work on a generator and we have Threave Castle which is an island as
well so you cross a river to get to it and so that for example the way we put
as visitors there is we we have a tail which runs off line onto the island the
posts its visitors on the day comes back into the network and outputs live data that
way so those are a number of sites which where we have no power and no
connectivity at the site but we sometimes in some cases have connections
nearby where we can upload and download information and data
what about sites where it is just a Pictish stone in the middle of the
highlands the northwest highlands they are what they are.
they are literally fields in the country and most people would walk past and not
on the same difference so yeah bigger issues there and I
think that’s quite interesting for us as an organization you know our our remit
is to protect and care for and promote the historic environment of Scotland and
that’s not just those really obvious sites that we know we love but it’s also
these other ones and trying to understand actually who in fact maybe
there are many people who are visiting those sites might be local might be
tourists but again it’s just just understanding that because maybe we need
to be directing our resources differently another question is the
solution required to recognize any details about the visitors example:
gender, age I think and we’re not too interested in I guess the demographics
in terms of their gender age our minimum requirement is what we’ve
already described really if someone came up with a solution which had an amazing
feature add-on and and sort of thought a little bit wider and you could
understand potentially where those visitors were from and whether they’re
local as I said or if they are from Europe or from the wider global
traveling Network and that might be interesting they might be but I don’t
well who knows who know what snows what solution might be out there I guess if
they asked then they also have something in mind, that’s brilliant what range of self sustainability is required battery-powered should last for
X months or years and would the use of renewable sources of
energy be acceptable giving the preservation of the sites I think we renewable resources would be preferable if that’s an option and it’s always
going to be good to have that option and I think otherwise standard battery life
expectations would be the norm really and batteries all run out you need to be
replaced as long as they’re at least of an industry standard that should be fine
for us I would suggest just to go a little further on the
renewable options we didn’t mention it as well in the write-up of the challenge
that if anything needs to be physically attached to a site we will have to get
scheduled monument consent and although it is actually historic
environment Scotland who awards that consents and you know we have Chinese
walls within the organization so we would still have to apply for that
consent and and the standard timeframe – for that consent to be awarded if it’s
the proper application and all the details can be found actually on our
website how to do that is around fifty six calendar days and it’s also that is
something that we would have to consider and if there was a solution out there
that meant that we didn’t have to actually
nail something to the fabric of a monument that would obviously make life
a little easier and at the same time, we have the exploration stage and the
accelerator stage will be the period where you guys negotiate that with the company that was successful and if it’s it might be a case that in some some
instances it needs to go on the monument and some other instances not, we never know. Is the maintenance of
on-site systems expected to be done by the provider or will the administrators on
the sites arrange it? I think I would entirely depend upon the solution that someone comes up with and
there is obviously there are three stages the exploration stage there’s the
accelerator stage when we come up with a Minimum Viable Product and then there’s
the pre commercialisation stage and I think once we got to that pre
commercialisation stage if we had a Minimum Viable Product that we were
happy with then we would start discussing those terms about maintenance going forward what standards and What standards and certifications should the
solution comply with and will the cost of any certifications I have to be
deducted from the development phase funding or could such costs be covered externally from any funding to the provider.
so would you guys pay for standards and certifications. I think this question is
a little bit confusing so if whoever sent the question is watching if you could
send a bit of a clarification on what standards and certifications are you
talking if you are talking about maybe we can go a bit more detail on that do
you guys have anything that you can then say from what we got here so I think
you’re right I think it depends what context we’re talking about there really
what kind of standards we’re talking about so if we know that we can be
answer that question so send me questions through if you can send it now, we
will answer this question in any case on public contracts Scotland once we have
more information come through what are the expected deliverables at
each stage in other words what tangible outputs are expected from the exploration
and accelerator phases If someone comes up with the all-singing
all-dancing solution at the exploration stage then happy days I think I have
something to add on that from prespective of CivTech this is a
different sort of procurement so we’re waiting for you to tell us what is the solution
and how much you’ll deliver what’s your plan for delivery I’ll give you an
example from the CivTech pilot so we had a challenge as you know, the
flood warning challenge and the person that got through to the accelerator
stage on exploration stage actually brought in a working demo 3D printed
the working demo of their solution and this is why we pay companies to to be
part of exploration stage so you can really go all out so as much as much as
you can bring at exploration stage is going to help you to get through
accelerator stage and then at accelerator stage all of these deliverables will
be negotiated with a company that comes through and with the challenge sponsors
yeah anything that you want add on that? certainly I think at the end of
accelerator stage we want to have something that we can make a decision do
we want to support the company further and see their business plans and
then how that might look in the future but I think we have to be open minded it
depends of the technology it depends on the solution depends on how out there it is, if its mainstream or if it’s brand-new and so as you say really the
more developed is clearer the better idea we have to help judge and in turn
critique these things there was quite a few people joining in
in the last few minutes will be live for the next hour so you you can send your
questions to [email protected] What resources would there be to integrate and test solutions giving the
remoteness of sites and existing systems used… so this could be financial
personal staff resources I think certainly during the accelerator part of
the program the funding that comes through CivTech we would expect the
accelerator participants to be covering their own costs but if we were to go out
and show you around a site then one of us would be available to do that or one
of the HES staff and obviously we would cover our own travel costs to be there
other costs to be negotiated I guess you know again not sure what’s going to come
up yeah I think in terms of resource it’s the different kinds of resource
that we perhaps require for this project so the data side is one part of it so
my team would potentially be able to help there and the techie side so how
does the data actually connect what the database looked like but also there’s a
conservation side and also the heritage management side of things as well so
what can we or can we not do to the monuments to get these counters in
place so I think it’s a kind of a broad spectrum of resources probably the
biggest thing that we would bring to the process at that stage I’m gonna be
sitting as a little lynchpin in the middle trying to pull
everyone together How are recurring charges for the project expected to be financed, will the sponsor
cover the costs or is it expected for the provider to absorb the costs in
their fixed accelerator fund with a one-off payment model be
preferable to the sponsor … again the accelerator and exploration stage of set
costs and we’re expecting the teams to get to an MVP stage within those costs
after that there’s a negotiation and there could potentially further
funds available if if you convince Historic environment Scotland that it’s
worth it and your solution is good enough so it’s all depending on you and
how much financial resource will be committed up to the 100k limit of the
contracts in the sense that you convince the challenge sponsors – that your
solution is good enough that should be funded through you guys agree with that
yeah sounds about right here yeah yeah let’s go through the next ones does
every site currently have some form of visitor tracking? No there’s only around
about ten or so sites have counters of the unstaffed sites and
we’re due to put a few more of the traditional counters in the next few few weeks months and but beyond that these on staff sites
have very little information at all I think we already answered that –
many sites have no mobile network coverage? We need to do
proper surveys to get that information? Are there other metrics other than
visitor numbers that would be useful/important? So we’ve covered
I suppose the majority of that question earlier talking about demographics
and things like that and I suppose something else just to add to that is when we were
developing the challenge we also talked about visitor flow around sites and
that’s it we took that out of the challenge because we think that is
actually much bigger challenge and it’s a bigger piece of work and there are
actually there are companies out there who do research into visitor flow they
look actually to people doing the Hajj to Mecca for example and it is
something that we’re looking at anyway having said that if there is someone out
there who comes up with an innovative solution that both counts the visitor
numbers gets the data back like we need the data that’s at the right time and
also helps us understand the visitor flow around sites that’s that would be
great but it’s not the number one thing that we’re looking for I think basic level being able to know the time of visit would be useful so whether it’s
time of day time of year week month etc being able to slice and dice the simple
metric of visitor numbers would be useful for us to understand how people are
accessing our locations just as an example actually to throw in here and I
can’t remember if we mentioned this in the write-up or not Orkney has a
huge proportion of our sites just in one set of islands up there
and they have some real pinch points particularly when cruise ships come in
and there are some sights like Skara Brae which have huge numbers of
people wanting to go visit there are so many other sites around Orkney that very
few people visit now that could be a case of just managing that better and
signposting people the right way but again I think if if our solution comes
up with with some way of providing data to help manage that and that’s just an
example of what we are looking at Do you envisage
different solutions for different sites example the final solution may not be
appropriate for every combination of sites I think that is a possibility we
have such a wide variety of locations that are very different from each other
it might be that there’s a core product out there but it’s a variation of that
product which suits different sites depending on how big they are and how
many access points for the sites have so I think yeah I think some
variation around the core product would be what we might the expect would be
every what would be a realistic price What would be a realistic price range for a unit cost per site be ? I’m not sure I can answer that right now to be honest clearly there are costs out there for the standard counters so that would
be our starting benchmark I guess so you know we have to see whether tuition
compares and a cost-benefit analysis against that standard solution to go back to what said at the beggining of this live stream we’re not looking for a standard visitor
counter and there could be that whatever solution you come up with it’s not even
a price per site it could be something that’s nothing to do
with the actual piece of equipment that’s on a site it might be something
totally different so again
pricing something and telling someone now what it’s gonna cost you know that
that’s for you to come up with at the end I mean it you know the the
innovators out there will be aware of the the latest technology or Internet of
Things or the latest cheapest mini computers that we can get so I think
they are in a better position to come up with the cheaper solutions out there
that will work that will be viable is there ongoing budget available for maintenance example periodic charging of
batteries I think it would have to be I think it’s a realistic assumption yes are there any solutions in the past they
have been considered and ruled out and which? nothing along these terms beyond the
basic counters that we have at the moment what are the limitations around
physical installments and I think we touched a bit on that before So anything that will actually physically touch the
fabric of the monument will require scheduled monument consent And clearly the aestheticsand the impact of whichever device that goes in the building
will be important if it’s huge and ugly it may not get approval that’s to bear
that in mind How do you currently collect data from the
problem sites problem sites Depends how you define problems sites and a lot of
our sites as I said we don’t have any data and we make assumptions based on
their location and the proximity to tourist attractions and population and
and comparable sites where we do have data some of our rural unstaffed sites are
opened by key keepers and so we have some angles of evidence of what what
visitors go to those sites but otherwise most of our sites we don’t have any
concrete data at all will the solution be able to optionally use power and
connectivity if available If available then yeah yeah
let’s not make things difficult for ourselves another one through what is
your budget for each of the monitoring What is your bugget for each of the monitoring systems at each site I think we’ve
answered that it’s up for debate we have someone here saying
that they love your challenge and they’re asking what are the hardest
sites to monitor and why? probably the size of
multiple access points because you were to look at who’s coming in who’s coming
in one entrance and leaving by the same entrance and who’s coming in by one entrance and leaving by another entrance places like as Helen’s already mentioned
Hollywood Park for example it’s a very big disparate area and that probably is the most difficult thing to look at are you are you tied to a
certain brand or format of people counters not in the slightest no
which is why we’re using CivTech how regularly do you report data
to stakeholders and what format does this report take we report on our key
KPI’s so visitor numbers and income and every week and we also report monthly
and quarterly so data to us and information is is really important to
understand how our business is operating and how about the format? various formats we have databases we have ticketing systems we
have reports and databases and we have lots of spreadsheets as well so we have
different formats and that was it mostly goes into different reports for senior
managers and the board This is not a question that came through but
just to clarify you handle the collection once the data is in your it’s
collected from the sites and is in your systems you will handle the reporting?
yes just on the data side, whilst we’re live unfortunately our chap who is going to come along today’s it’s
unfortunately ill today so but if there are any questions around that
more techie side of the databases and interfaces then send them in and if we
can’t answer them then will make a note and get answers so we
can get it up to PCS in the next week How big a pain point is the problem for you right now and what is your current
fallback solution It’s not necessarily affecting our day to day and
well-being our operations and but we we are very much aware that we have a
backlog of maintenance to sort out at our sites we’ve had some budget
allocated from government to do that and begun a process to prioritize
where that money is spent and so clearly the more information we have to help
guide where we put that money will help us do that job properly wether it’s from a
health and safety perspective or a conservation and degradation perspective
and the more information we have about these rural sites the better just a note
to our viewers we had quite a few people jumping in in the last few minutes so
you can send questions to [email protected] I’ll read them live and the
guys will answer it, we have still some questions left to to answer but if you
do have questions send them in now so we have enough time to read them out you have some sites where there are a lot of people in the area but no one visiting
the actual site for example the West Quarter Dovecot which is in the middle of a housing
estate beside the road do you want this monitored? potentially and I think that’s
up to the point of once we get to a solution stage we commit a decision we may not be that we put the solution to every single site but at least if we can we have an option we can look at you know see where
it goes to give us a really good representative
sample of what the visitors across our estate what data do we need to collect a
minimum data example and a dream solution I think we’re sort of touched
on that and the main thing is the numbers simple as that and if we can get
things like where people are from demographics fantastic but that’s very
much a nice to have for us …and visitor flow. A question for me
these 336 sites is that a way that we can go online and find out where they are what
they look like yeah they’re all listed on our website there’s a section of
places to visit and you can search geographically by region on that website
and you can look from there yeah we actually don’t have questions through
we’ve read out all the questions we have a lot of questions but a lot of them or
repeater than them short short answers so if you do have some other questions
that would like clarified send them now and we’ll still have some time to read
them out. I’ll ask you guys a question in terms of organisational point
of view not so much the solution for the challenge what are you expecting for
your CivTech experience going forward I think as an organisation we have a lot
of really exciting work that goes on and a lot of innovation that happens within
the organization and CivTech is exciting for us because actually it’s
it’s trying to throw things out there to people who wouldn’t maybe traditionally answer a public sector tender and and just and I think for us to be able
to have access to all of those other exciting entrepreneurs and companies
potentially research students without actually having to go to look for them
ourselves is really exciting and I think it’s it’s a way of working that we’re
embracing more and more at HES so it’s going to be great to see what comes through and at the end of the fingers cross forgets someone with a
great solution to work with during the accelerator phase and at the end of that
if we can have this pre commercialisation and take it forward
and have this ongoing license that just obviously revolutionises how we count
visitors how we maybe look at visitor flow that’s an add-on and that would be
fantastic and I like the element of that
whatever we’re looking for you know it’s not just us that looks for these kind of
things but there are a lot of other organisations out there who are using
standard visitor counters and I know people who’ve been involved with and Land
Management in national parks and they quite often say to me oh you know it’s a
bit of pain that you know a cow walks past and it gets counted maybe twice
it’s got four legs and so that I think it’s definitely got scope and it’s it’s
it’s exciting and it’s nice to know that and we can be part of that solution not
just for our sector but looking more widely as well I think it’s really good
to see what’s out there that will challenge existing assumptions you know
we we all kind of work in a certain way we all assume things are
what they are and maybe there’ll be no real solution for us but maybe it’ll be
something really cracking creative solutions are there so anything that
challenges the way you think about things I think would be really good so
be really interested to see what comes out of this this process. And I think this is
an area that is primed for innovation the same system has been used for that
many years and the technology as evolved and there’s more things that we can do
with less so you might find that the reason the same
solutions been used for many years is visits the best solution but you know
what there might be something else out there exactly this is what CivTech is here for, to find new solutions to old problems What level of error margin
is acceptable for visitor numbers we touched a bit on that but the second
part of this question is does this differ from site to site I think it probably would. The pure physical structures
the entrance points and all those kind of variables what will affect
things somehow but we open-minded we understand that and so as long as we
know where we are and we can test things, that’s fine You highlighted accuracy of data is important? same question… waiting for you to tell us what your
solutions will be capable of and what predictions in terms of accuracy can you
make right now but the CivTech is a stage process and all of these will be
discovered and explored with the companies that get through the next two stages The biggest thing we already know affects these counters is things like livestock and long grass and carrier bags flapping in the wind you know
that’s not down to a counter it’s down to the world we live in
And you guys have that experience that you can input to
this product which I think it’s one of the main advantages of CivTech is that
you’re creating a product that you can go out and sell it in the world are you
creating your product with subject matter expertise as their knows they
know what are the difficulties what are the things that these kind of
organizations are looking for so it gives this companies a really good
opportunity to go forward and I have really thought out solution that really
nails the problem in the head and really solves it so it’s a staged
process and as some of these questions we don’t know right now but we’ll all
find out together going forward okay I have no more questions this
session was a bit shorter than usual I think you guys were answering
the questions way to quickly! So for our viewers if
you have some questions send them now in the next thirty seconds otherwise
send them through to public contracts Scotland and we will answer it in due
time deadline for applications is soon first of June so I would advise you to
send the questions sooner rather than later and we have bank holiday on
Monday so questions will be answered on
Tuesday okay we don’t have any other questions I guess we can then we can
always get back to them announcement on… if you are watching this challenge chances are you are kind of
curious about Cairngorms National Park challenge as well so due to some
circumstances we’re not going to be able to livestream the Cairngorms National Park
and Scottish Natural Heritage’s challenge tomorrow morning we will read
out questions that you send into the [email protected] mailbox from now until tomorrow
morning we’ll make a video with the challenge sponsors and we will put the
video live at some point tomorrow at around lunch time so if you do have questions
about that challenge send them now and we’ll make a video to answer them it
just won’t be live due to unforeseen circumstances we have another question
that came through in the meantime What will be done with the data for example
analytics? We have a team of analysts who analyze our figures use
them for understanding what’s happening at our sites and helps us forecast our
business and plan resource and expenditure accordingly so I will be
putting alongside our existing data and use accordingly this is an interesting
one the solution created will this involve visitor interaction or will this be accepted visitor interaction for example a mobile app? it’s a potential I think if
we’re going to go on that root and just have to be aware of data protection and
if we’re going to be collecting data about people now we have a great data
protection team at historic environment Scotland and that is just something to
be aware of but maybe there is a solution out there that involves that
just bear in mind that if it’s a mobile app one of the biggest problems that
we’re talking about is the lack of connectivity and that includes 3G let along 4G. And we also have a visitor facing app for our sites as it stands at the moment
so there’s a potential conflict there You have an app that you currently
use could these guys consider how they can integrate with the current app out
there. I guess that’s a potential we need to check of the existing IPR on the
existing app and the existing agency that built layout for us so was that a
discussion and to care about but you never know the possibility okay okay guys
thanks very much this is all the questions that came through today the video will be available on YouTube going forward you can watch it on catch up as they say, you can send questions through pcs as well and we’re all looking forward to seeing your solutions and seeing what
you guys come up with thanks very much for joining I’m Rui Cardoso, Helen, Nick thank you guys and… see you soon!

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