Smart technology reaping rewards at Lasswade High School

Friday June 30th 2023


In the picture from left to right are: Lasswade pupil Cole Gentles, Shrikant Sharma, founder and CEO of SmartViz, Education Resource Officer Magnus Inglis who is leading on this project for the council, Lasswade Head Teacher Campbell Hornell, pupil James Rae and Paul Dodd, Senior Associate Director of Scottish Futures Trust (SFT).

Written by Midlothian View Reporter, Luke Jackson

Lasswade High School is setting up a taskforce of pupils and staff to cut energy use, make better use of the building and improve the learning environment thanks to the findings of a smart technology project.

Simple peel and stick Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and data analytics, including Artificial Intelligence, monitored everything from classroom occupancy rates to indoor air quality and energy use in real time. Other sensors could anonymously track how people moved round the building.

The information gathered will not only help Lasswade realise benefits such as lower energy bills but it will also inform the layout of new and existing schools in Midlothian and nationally. The initiative has secured additional funding from Scottish Futures Trust to develop these insights and work collaboratively with the school.

Head teacher Campbell Hornell said: “We’re really proud to help shape findings that will support the wellbeing of pupils across Scotland and beyond while improving their learning, optimising space and cutting energy waste.

“We had no idea the data would throw up such fascinating insights. Simple changes like moving a dining hall table slightly further away from the main stairwell made a huge difference to a ‘traffic’ pinch point, we’d not even been aware was an issue.

“Pupils and staff are really looking forward to setting up a taskforce to make sure these benefits are realised and using the opportunity to connect the project with the school curriculum.”

The project was one of 12 CivTech Scotland challenges announced by Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise in 2021.

CivTech is a government body established to drive innovation by taking problems public sector organisations have and solving them in collaboration with innovative businesses.

The Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) and the council, in collaboration with Censis (Scotland’s innovation centre for sensors and Internet of Things), teamed up with SmartViz, a spin-off from the engineering consultants Buro Happold. Representatives of the main organisations returned to the school recently to discuss the project outcomes and next steps.

Paul Dodd, Senior Associate Director of SFT, said: “We are really excited by the opportunity and engagement by all partners within this project. Technology will enable a better understanding in how our educational buildings perform and how we then manage our estate. This will ultimately improve outcomes, for example the wellbeing of user, reduce carbon and costs. The lessons from this project will be shared across the public sector to support adoption and drive this approach.”

Shrikant Sharma, founder and CEO of SmartViz, said: “This collaboration with Lasswade High School, Mauricewood Primary School, Midlothian Council and Scottish Futures Trust has provided unprecedented insights into how school buildings are used. It builds on our parallel work with 30 other Scottish schools and several UK universities, which has created a solid baseline with millions of datapoints to feed the AI engine in our digital twin platform. With the taskforce at Lasswade High School we are truly excited to take the learnings to the next level and co-create the optimum design and operations for future schools.”

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