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How do we address the skills shortfall?

How do we address the skills shortfall?

September 2023
The development of geospatial skills in Scotland is falling behind other countries.

A recent article in Geoconnexion co-authored by Ashley Stewart, Senior Consultant at Optimat and Lead on Location Data Scotland, Bruce Gittings, Senior Lecturer in Geographical Information at University of Edinburgh and Tom Janes from the Improvement Service examines the key findings from the work undertaken to develop the skills roadmap for Scotland.

The article identifies where the skill gaps lie and why it is essential to make changes now, to help the geospatial sector flourish.

You can read the full article here.

GeoBiz 2023 update

Location Data Scotland at GeoBiz2023
Location Data Scotland at GeoBiz2023
Location Data Scotland at GeoBiz2023

GeoBiz 2023 update

June 2023
From Innovations in Space to Environmental Impact, it was all going on at GeoBiz 2023!

Hosting the Scottish Innovation Village at Geo Business in London for two days we caught up with the 7 organisations who exhibited alongside Location Data Scotland to find out more about their technology and what their highlights were from being at the show.

Eolas Insight provide automated mapping solutions predominantly for the environmental sector. Their highlight of being at Geo Business was the ability to be part of the Scottish Innovation Village and talking to the other companies on the stand to discuss potential collaborative opportunities.

Space to Consumer capture real time satellite imagery of people, animals and life form. They met with some key brands at the show who were very interested in their technology including Tom Tom and Amey. Space to Consumer also formed a strong partnership with one of the companies on the Alley and were discussing a potential collaboration.

Trade in Space’s technology uses satellite data analysis and blockchain technologies to make agricultural commodities traceable and sustainable. They attended the show to introduce their two highly innovative solutions; Digitrak and Sustainimaps.

NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility are a lending library for researchers sharing specialist equipment. They came to Geo Business to identify and build partnerships with key players to help improve their commercial activity.

Topolytics are a data analytics company providing solutions to make the waste supply chain more visible. Their CEO and founder Mike Groves highlighted how important it is for companies such as Topolytics to be part of the wider Scottish ecosystem and collaborate with other companies to share best practice and form partnerships.

Geovation are an accelerator programme supporting geospatial businesses in Scotland. Their partner manager Jess Sibley highlighted why it is essential for Geovation Scotland to be part of the Location Data Scotland community.

Craft Prospect is a NewSpace company providing AI-enabled space technologies, quantum encryption services and mission systems consultancy.

Alan Corbett, Head of Geospatial at the Scottish Government said,

Location data plays such an integral role in stimulating and promoting innovation within the Geospatial Sector. Location Data Scotland is working with some highly innovative organisations across Scotland and the UK, promoting the fantastic things currently being undertaken with location data. Having our own dedicated Scottish Innovation Village at Geo Business highlights the importance of the innovation and entrepreneurship being generated in Scotland, and the pivotal role Scotland plays in the wider UK Geospatial ecosystem.

LDS to host a ‘Village of Innovation’ at Geo Business 2023

Expo 2020 Dubai 3rd February 2022
Expo 2020 Dubai 3rd February 2022
Photograph courtesy of Spelfie; Space to Consumer

LDS to host a ‘Village of Innovation’ at Geo Business 2023

May 2023

Location Data Scotland is hosting the Scottish Innovation Village for the first time at Geo Business 2023. Taking place in ExCeL, London on the 17th and 18th of May, Geo Business is one of the UK’s largest geospatial and location intelligence exhibitions showcasing the newest tech, tools, and solutions for geospatial. The show is co-located with Digital Construction Week highlighting the latest trends in digital construction in which geospatial plays a pivotal role.

The Scottish Innovation Village is situated at the heart of Geo Business and will showcase some of Scotland’s leading-edge technology organisations working in geospatial including:

Read the full story in Scottish Business News

Private and Public sector unite to unlock the Power of Location Data

Private and Public sector unite to unlock the Power of Location Data

April 2023
March Webinar Update

In our March webinar we heard from Simon Roberts, Data and Engagement Manager at the Improvement Service and Arun Gopinath, CEO of Vahanomy talking about their partnership formulated through an introduction by Location Data Scotland and where they saw ‘The Power of Location Data’.

The Improvement Service is owned by the 32 Scottish Local Authorities, COSLA and SOLACE and one of their focuses is to create a more consistent and comprehensive evidence base for decision making by enabling better access and usability of local government data.

The Spatial Hub is the Improvement Service’s flexible and scalable, online platform that provides standardised access to Scottish local authority data. A key objective of the platform is to stimulate innovation and improve productivity for organisations across Scotland. The platform addresses the challenges that organisations face around accessing public sector data.

Local government data custodians are invited to provide data sets to the Spatial Hub, which are then transformed and published into more harmonised national datasets which can be accessed by any authorised organisation or user. Organisations such as EDINA at the University of Edinburgh are sharing the Spatial Hub data via their DigiMap service with most academic and research institutions across the UK.

The Improvement Service has been working with Vahanomy Limited, an Edinburgh based start-up developing innovative artificial intelligence data driven B2B solutions to enable the accelerated rollout of electric vehicles (EV) charging infrastructure globally. Through an exploratory licence for the Spatial Hub, Vahanomy can access local authority data sets that have been critical to the development and testing of their innovative technology.

Arun said:

When we started out, we encountered lots of challenges accessing data around where electric charging points could be located including:

  • sourcing accurate, current, standardised, easy to handle and affordable data,
  • developing predictive models to use this data to pinpoint the electric charging points.

Through Location Data Scotland (LDS) we have been introduced to a number of key data suppliers like the Improvement Service, which has been important for us to access quality data. We also were able to connect with Ordnance Survey, Scottish Government, Registers of Scotland and the Geospatial Commission. As a start-up with limited resources, it is difficult to connect with the right contacts. Ashley at Location Data Scotland has a fantastic network of connections and she easily started opening doors for us to the right people across the location data domain.

The Spatial Hub has provided Vahanomy with access to 40 spatial datasets through their exploratory licence.

Simon Roberts commented:

The Spatial Hub could become a sort of ‘one-stop shop’ for Scotland’s local government and public sector spatial data if this was deemed necessary and we are working with other parts of Government such as health organisations and SEPA to evolve the data sets we currently support. Companies who are interested in accessing or supplying this data should get in touch with us via our website.

A list of available data sets from across the UK can be found here.

Available Data Sources

Public/Private Sector Disconnect

There is a massive question around how we bring together the public and private sectors to unlock the data being generated across the public sector? Lots of best practice is already being created in the private sector as organisations find solutions to similar data challenges. To address the issue and find solutions, first we need to understand the challenges. And bring together suppliers to share their insights and knowledge to try and solve the challenges.

Project Manager for Location Data Scotland Ashley Stewart said:

Our role in Location Data Scotland is to bring together an inclusive community of entrepreneurs, industry, third sector, academia, and public sector to collaborate, drive innovation, create opportunities and efficiencies and unlock the value in location data across multiple industries and sectors. We have a key role to play in helping address the public/private sector disconnect and our strong community of members could be the conduit to unearthing both public and private sector challenges and finding solutions.

The Power of Location Data

The Power of Location Data

March 2023
Location Data is integral to the technological advancements of many industries.

Location technologies (both indoor and out) are spurring the evolution of rapid digital transformation and innovative new solutions across almost every part of daily life.

These systems rely on three main location data sources:

  1. Geographic information systems (GIS) which use a variety of types of location-based data to build 3D visualizations and maps
  2. Indoor positioning systems (IPS) that find and track people or things indoors using a range of different technologies
  3. Internet of Things (IoT) devices (like beacons, sensors, etc.), which provide data to inform GIS and IPS systems

Location Data Scotland’s webinar, The Power of Location Data on Tuesday 30th March, will provide a case study of Scottish technology company Vahanomy Ltd discussing the importance of accessing rich data for their technology and the partnership they have formed with the Improvement Service to access datasets via their Spatial Hub.

Register below for this event to uncover a rich library of data sources and form partnerships with key data providers generating data and others looking to source data.

With the global geospatial market forecasted to be $681 billion in 2025 according to Geobuiz, we have seen data become exponentially richer over the last 5-10 years. The market is estimated to grow at a much faster rate post-2025, making it $1.44 trillion by 2030; this is largely being driven by strategic public policy reforms, increased government investment, the increased role of national geospatial agencies as well as industry acceleration strategies and innovation in the digital twin and metaverse paradigm.*

*Source: Location Data Scotland Market Intelligence Report


Three years of exciting growth for Scotland

Three years of exciting growth for Scotland

March 2023
Scotland has the potential to be centre stage in the growing global geospatial industry.

There are some exciting things happening in this arena in Scotland! Location Data Scotland, working with our partners are focused on accelerating the growth of this nascent industry in Scotland, underpinning public services, helping protect our environment and delivering economic growth through the creation of new products and services using the power of location data. Now in our third year we are seeing our community grow, we’re having conversations with the key decision makers and we’re tackling the skills issue.

Ashley Stewart, Lead on Location Data Scotland talked to Business Insider magazine about how location data can help Scottish businesses to thrive. Read the interview here.

Call for Partners – Scottish Tourism Industry to Trial Geotourist’s Data Dashboard

Call for Partners – Scottish Tourism Industry to Trial Geotourist’s Data Dashboard

February 2023

Scottish Government fund ground-breaking Tourism Data initiative with University of Dundee expert in place branding and Geotourist Analytics.

Geotourist and Dr Keith Dinnie, from the University of Dundee, are undertaking a shared project to identify and assess Geotourist’s economic and social benefits to Scottish tourism – with a call to Scottish Destination Management Organisation and tourism-related organisations to take part. With 20 spaces on offer, each partner will have a Geotourist multimedia trail created – to showcase their destination or brand – with access to Geotourist’s data dashboard to assess and analyse the results. The project runs until May 2023, with results released in a paper authored by Dr Keith Dinnie, an industry report co-authored by Dr Keith Dinnie and Geotourist CEO, Shaon Talukder, and an online event for Scottish tourism industry stakeholders.

Building on existing links between Geotourist and the Scottish tourism industry, the digital storytelling tours will be hosted on the Geotourist platform and generate data bespoke to each of the 20 project partners. Under the supervision of Dr Keith Dinnie, interviews will be conducted with the partners to assess the potential for Geotourist to deliver economic and social benefits to organisations and their destinations.

With significance on a global scale, this project will help Scottish tourism organisations to unlock data sets that have not been measured or previously accessed. The data generated by destinations’ own visitors removes the need for a third-party data provider or the general data pool to provide destination leaders with accessible, actionable insights that reveal which activities are delivering real visitors in and which are losing organisations money. The goal is to help destinations accelerate their economic growth by using data to focus on the activities that their visitors would travel for.

Shaon Talukder, CEO, of Geotourist said:

“We’re thrilled to be working with Dr Keith Dinnie of the University of Dundee to help destination management organisations and other tourism stakeholders across Scotland understand how Geotourist-generated data can support their economic activities and drive visitor engagement. We’re hugely committed to the visitor economy in Scotland and are looking forward to bringing more destinations on board during this research project.”

If you’d like to take part, please contact

A widening GIS skills gap in Scotland

A widening GIS skills gap in Scotland

November 2022
A recent round table hosted by Location Data Scotland, in conjunction with AGI-Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, saw a meeting of minds between industry, Government, academia, and research to consider the geospatial skills gap in Scotland.

Geography is viewed as a social science within the Scottish curriculum; however, this currently downplays the element of GIS and its importance as a source of employment. The ability to link geography with computing science in schools to help put geospatial on the map! Qualifications also need to be considered at all levels – SQA, college and university.

Schools, colleges, and universities are promoting data science as a key career path for students. Huge opportunities are opening up across the world and salaries in this area are leading the charge, however GIS analysis is not considered under the umbrella of data science. If it is to be taken seriously as a career path, awareness raising is required to showcase the opportunities and consideration must be given as to where it is introduced – school or college or university courses – apprenticeships – jobs?

There is a need in geospatial sector to develop a campaign similar to the one launched a few years ago in the Construction sector – GoConstruct – an online resource for anyone looking for a career in the construction and built environment sector. A campaign like this will significantly increase the awareness of geospatial and ultimately the skills base for geospatial in Scotland.

Bruce Gittings, Chair of AGI-Scotland said “We want to put Scotland at the centre of an international geospatial stage so we can attract technology entrepreneurs, promote start-ups and bring research to this country. To do this we need a diverse base of skilled professionals, building on Scotland’s geospatial heritage and a growing data science sector. While our universities lead the world in aspects of this GIS and remote sensing, we need to expose students in schools and colleges to the benefits and potential of this technology, as well as ensuring we have appropriate professional development opportunities for those at all career stages. Having access to industry networks such as Location Data Scotland and AGI Scotland is essential to help address this skill challenge and identify appropriate solutions.”

Have your Say!

A survey was launched in May 2022 and a series of roundtables are underway to consider the findings and discussion a shared vision for tackling the challenges. If you want to join a roundtable, contact

Everything you need to know about Innovation, Collaboration and Funding

Everything you need to know about Innovation, Collaboration and Funding

September 2022
Innovation is the process of taking new ideas and research to market. It drives productivity, exports and economic growth and helps solve societal challenges.

In our recent webinar Innovate UK, Scottish Enterprise and ESA (European Space Agency) joined Location Data Scotland to explore opportunities around innovation, collaboration and funding.

Innovate UK funding and support

Innovate UK is the UK’s innovation agency, enabling business led and collaborative innovation in all sectors, technologies and UK geographic regions. The Innovate UK group offers a range of specialist support for innovative businesses:

Innovate UK Innovate UK KTN Innovate UK Edge Catapults
Funding and support for innovation projects Connections to new partners and opportunities Support for growing innovative businesses Specialist facilities and experts in technology areas

Carol Sunderland who works in the Artificial Intelligence and Data Economy (AIDE) Team discussed how Innovate UK has supported a range of geospatial innovation projects – both from a geospatial data generation and application perspective in a number of different sectors including agriculture, maritime, port logistics, construction, infrastructure and rail, by way of example. It was further explained that geospatial funding opportunities also lie in some cross-sector and international programmes.

ESA Funding and Support

We also heard from Ken Gordon, the UK business ambassador at ESA Space Solutions who are the largest space innovation network in the world. ESA support start-ups and SMEs to grow their business through zero equity funding, technology and commercial guidance, support from a personalised consultant and access to a network of partners. Companies can apply for ESA funding (open calls or kickstart activities) as long as they use one space asset – for example, earth observation, space weather, satellite navigation, satellite communication or human spaceflight technology.

Scottish Enterprise Funding and Support

Tracey Ward introduced the innovation, collaboration and funding team at Scottish Enterprise. Scottish Enterprise help ambitious companies who are seeking innovation funding from a variety of sources. Scottish Enterprise work typically, but not exclusively, with SMEs (10-250 employees) who are:

  • Market-orientated innovation and/or R&D projects
  • Can evidence a market (have customers who are willing to pay)
  • Are confident that they will be able to match-fund at least 30% of the project costs
  • Are willing to share their results

  • Our webinar speakers shared their top tips for preparing and submitting a funding application:

    1. Ensure there is a fit with the funding call in question (including the technology readiness level (TRL), does your organisation fit the criteria, does your idea match the themes of the funding?).
    2. Ensure your innovation is central to your application.
    3. Solve a problem worth solving and make sure you include external validation of the problem.
    4. Ensure you answer the IP (intellectual property) question fully.
    5. Convey the business case within your application and demonstrate your market knowledge and the opportunity. Clearly articulate your specific knowledge of the market you are addressing your proposition and where you are positioned within the value chain.
    6. For ESA applications understand how you will use the space assets you will be using.
    7. Don’t generalise; ie don’t say ‘we are the only people doing this’ unless you can prove it! Demonstrate where you fit against the competition.
    8. If your project requires partners, find your partners as early as possible. Seek support from the networks – Location Data Scotland, Innovate UK KTN and Scottish Enterprise. Individuals such as Luca Bodello from Innovate UK KTN can help provide geospatial connections.
    9. Demonstrate your knowledge of the market opportunity. For ESA applications this needs to be from a UK/European perspective.
    10. Don’t underestimate the time needed to complete an application. Ensure you submit it in plenty of time – on some platforms you can add draft versions of documents – upload as you go along so you have evidence if problems arise. Draft – Review – Redraft – Proof Read – Check – Submit
    11. As Innovate UK is awarded via a competition model, look out for relevant competitions and answer the questions clearly.
    12. Ensure you have the capacity to deliver the project.
    13. Co-funding can NOT be other sources of public money.

    If you missed our webinar, or just want to refresh your memory, links to the event recording and resources are available below.

    Location Data Scotland can help your business access the right funding sources and support to help grow your business. If you wish to access this support, or the support discussed during the webinar, use the links below.

    So, what do we really mean by Innovation in Geospatial?

    Panel at What is Innovation in Geospatial with Geospatial Commission, Electrek Explorer, Registers of Scotland, Eolas Insight, Geovation Scotland and Location Data Scotland
    Panel at What is Innovation in Geospatial with Geospatial Commission, Electrek Explorer, Registers of Scotland, Eolas Insight, Geovation Scotland and Location Data Scotland
    Panel at What is Innovation in Geospatial

    So, what do we really mean by Innovation in Geospatial?

    September 2022
    Collaboration in Key!

    30 August 2022 saw Location Data Scotland and Geovation Scotland join forces to run an event at the Registers of Scotland’s building in Edinburgh to explore the topic of innovation in geospatial with industry, public sector and academia.

    A range of speakers and panellists from the Geospatial Commission, Registers of Scotland and industry joined Ashley Stewart, lead for Location Data Scotland and Lyndsey Dougan head of Geovation Scotland, to explore what we really mean by innovation in geospatial.

    Innovation is Problem x Execution = Solution

    Lyndsey explained that Geovation Scotland deliver a hugely successful accelerator programme targeting companies in Scotland working in the geospatial sector and they feel collaboration is the number one ingredient to make innovation happen. It’s not just about having an idea or creating new technology – it’s about creating value and having the support infrastructure in place to make it happen!

    We also heard from Douglas McNeil from SME Eolas Insight who have an innovative solution tackling the impact on the environmental sector using location data. Doug said “In our experience, we can see there is lots of geospatial technology impacting the environmental sector and these technologies are making service development easier, enabling SMEs to punch above their weight. These technologies can help inform us to support our efforts towards biodiversity net gain and help us on our journey towards net zero.”

    Tourism business Electrek Explorer introduced their innovative app which supports the green traveller to find new experiences when they are out and about, providing information about e-bike and EV routes, charging points, nature sites, EV accommodation, bike friendly accommodation, electric bike charging cafes, local businesses and activity providers.Eilidh Smyth from Electrek Explorer said, “Innovation is nothing without the support of the wider ecosystem. We had fantastic support from Location Data Scotland and Geovation Scotland to help raise our profile, challenge our business model and make cross-sector collaborations which has really helped us scale and grow.”

    In terms of innovation, areas such as climate change and sustainability, transport, utilities and insurance are evolving, however sectors such as the emergency services are way behind! The key challenge in driving innovation is scalability. There are lots of great things happening across Scotland but questions remain around how we as a nation can help develop new skills and technologies and commercialise these, to drive more innovation. We also need to consider data democratisation – how do we get the right data to the right people in the right way at the right time? And what about data standards – are they interoperable, are they based on fair principles? Now is the time to create national standards that tie it all together.

    Scotland has an amazing opportunity to drive innovation. We are a small nation with lots of opportunity to scale. Scotland is the perfect location for a test bed as we have scalable datasets and can lead by example. But we need to work together rather than working in silos!

    As a starting point, we encourage you to join Location Data Scotland’s community to help you find collaboration partners and stop trying to figure this out on your own!

    Relevant Funding, Events and Reports referred to during the event:

    Location Data Scotland : Innovation and Collaboration Webinar – 28th September 2022

    SAVE THE DATE: Geovation Showcase 20th October

    Geovation Scotland Accelerator Open Call

    Applying Space Data to the Net Zero Economy

    Agri Challenge – Can your organisation help to accurately measure biomass and natural capital using space data?

    Other Funding Opportunities

    Geospatial Commission Annual Plan 2022/2023

    Building public confidence in location data: The ABC of ethical use