About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Three Scottish local authorities have opened up data to technology companies to improve services for commuters and councils services to help keep citizens on the move and local services functioning.

Glasgow City Council, along with a collaboration between Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils, received funding from independent innovation foundation, Nesta, to work with technology partners to open up data they hold to improve travel in poor weather.

Glasgow City Council in partnership with IRISS, has developed Glasgow Gritting which uses real-time data from the authority's gritting vehicles to show local citizens which streets have already been gritted and are safer to use.  It also shows the routes gritting vehicles are taking.  This will not only help ordinary citizens to plan their journeys, but will also help other Council services to plan their work to ensure vulnerable people can still be reached and helped.

In the north-east of Scotland, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils have joined forces with technology company Swirrl to develop Smart Journey.  This web and mobile app service shows all current traffic problems in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire areas as well as any reports of ice, snow or other weather issues affecting the roads.  

Commuters are being asked to provide feedback to Smart Journey through the mobile-enabled website or Android or iPhone App. 

A key feature of both projects is to allow local people to contribute to make the information presented more accurate.  In addition, all of the code for these applications will be made publicly available so that Councils from across Scotland and beyond can develop their own, similar, digital services.

In Glasgow this could mean local people requesting additional gritting of an area where one treatment may not have been enough or highlighting additional poor conditions in other areas, helping the Council's roads team to prioritise its future work schedule.

Jackie McKenzie, Head of Nesta's Innovation Programmes in Scotland said: "We all know that when cold weather strikes, councils are under enormous pressure to keep towns and cities moving, helping people get to work and reaching the most vulnerable in society.  

"The fantastic work being done by Glasgow, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire councils shows how open data can be used to develop new services for citizens and, by encouraging them to provide additional information, to make that service even better.  Local authorities have shown the amazing results that can be achieved through the excellent partnership they have developed with digital companies.

"Nesta hopes that other councils across Scotland and beyond will take advantage of the fact that all of the information and code for these initiatives is open source helping others to develop services for future years."

For more information contact Graeme Downie on 07973 300 184 or at [email protected]

Notes to Editors:

About Nesta: 

  • Nesta is the UK's innovation foundation. We help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. We do this by providing investments and grants and mobilising research, networks and skills. We are an independent charity and our work is enabled by an endowment from the National Lottery.
  • Nesta Operating Company is a registered charity in England and Wales with a company number 7706036 and charity number 1144091. Registered as a charity in Scotland number  SC042833. Registered office: 1 Plough Place, London, EC4A 1DE

Make it Local Scotland

'Make it Local' aims to identify how local authorities can maximise their use of open data by working with local digital companies to create innovative services that benefit their community. Applications had to address a specific need identified by local residents, allow users an opportunity to update and augment the data with their own content and use real-time local public data.

Nesta is supporting a total of five projects through Make it Local Scotland:

  • City of Edinburgh Council - Edinburgh Outdoors is  a new digital service to allow local communities to explore and enjoy Edinburgh's parks and green spaces. Information on historic monuments and other features are featured on the website and can be spotted following routes within the park/city.  Users can add their own content including comments and photos.  This is of particular assistance to groups such as bird watchers, cyclists, dog walkers and families who will have their own interests.
  • Orkney Islands Council.   A new website which brings together data about archaeological sites and monuments in the Orkney Islands, allowing users to explore and learn about Orkney's heritage via smart-phones. This interactive service will also allow users to add data such as updates on key monuments which are at risk from coastal erosion, sound files of place-names and photographic records, giving communities a central place to record their own history.
  • Glasgow City Council.  This website will make available to customers live real time information on road and pavement gritting services during the autumn and winter period. The service will show which routes have been gritted, those to be treated and those which are not gritted using live Geographic Information System (GIS) data from trucks and map data/travel data.
  • Aberdeen City Council & Aberdeenshire Council. A mobile-friendly website that reports road and travel conditions on an interactive map, helping users make informed travel choices and minimise disruption, particularly in bad weather. It will include information on gritting routes and current gritting operations, locations of grit bins, road and footpath conditions, travel and transport information, and weather forecast data. It will also allow citizens to provide their own live updates, ensuring timely and detailed local travel information.