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Scotland’s external affairs secretary in US firm visit to promote transatlantic tech trade links
Angus Robertson, Scottish Government external affairs secretary, right, with Lawrie Elder, global director of law enforcement and national security, SAS
GovTech

Scotland’s external affairs secretary in US firm visit to promote transatlantic tech trade links 

Scotland’s external affairs secretary has met with a leading US digital firm to promote the transatlantic tech trade.

Angus Robertson visited the Washington DC offices of artificial intelligence and advanced analytics specialist SAS, which has a 100-strong research and development hub in Glasgow.

The company opened its base in Argyll Street in the city in 2014, and it has since doubled in size as it recruits ‘local talent’ from some of Scotland’s leading universities.

The highly-skilled data scientists, who are focused on technology development, have helped create world-leading analytical solutions in areas like law enforcement and fraud prevention.

SAS, which is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina, has also invested in The Bayes Centre – a major scientific research centre created by Edinburgh University in 2018 – as part of its commitment to supporting public and private sector ambitions in Scotland, and to build the country’s reputation as a truly significant regional player in the enormous and rapidly expanding global AI and advanced analytics market.

A number of successful projects have either been led or jointly supported by the Scotland R&D Centre, addressing client issues relating to areas such as fraud, risk, compliance, customer intelligence and data management. The centre contributed to law enforcement solutions now used in a number of locations globally to help keep communities safe.

One example is the Delaware State Police in the US which is using solutions from SAS to help identify suspects, solve cases and protect communities. The department uses SAS to aggregate data from organisational records, collision investigations, traffic citations, criminal incidents and calls for service from every law enforcement agency in the state.

The records are searchable and indexable, providing a visual display of patterns and proximity. The system layers in additional information from the firearm forensic database, Department of Corrections, statewide criminal intelligence records and carefully secured information from police informants.

The result is the department is tracking down suspects much faster using analytics. The SAS® system catalyses information sharing so departments are less dependent on what officers know, effectively meaning a new officer has the same type of institutional knowledge as a 30-year detective.

External affairs secretary, Angus Robertson, said: “Scotland is a dynamic, open nation with an outward facing economy. We have global strengths in the digital economy, especially in data science, built upon the excellence of our academic institutions working hand in hand with innovative businesses. It was clear in my conversations with SAS that this has been a significant incentive for them to invest, and grow their operations, in Scotland.

“I was pleased to have this opportunity to hear more about the SAS R&D Centre in Argyll Street – which has doubled in size since its inception and now employs more than 100 highly-skilled people in Scotland – and the company’s ongoing commitment to developing talent in partnership with Scottish Universities.”

Lawrie Elder, global director of law enforcement and national security, SAS, said: “At SAS we’re proud to be leading on innovation in this area, with expertise built up over more than 40 years and considerable investment into R&D, above the industry average. 

“We know the opportunity is there for all organisations to use data and analytics to better understand themselves and the world around them, so they can ultimately make better, faster decisions. This is particularly critical in areas such as Law Enforcement, where informed decision making has such a critical and potentially beneficial impact on the safety of communities.”

Also in attendance today was Mike Cwalinski, Vice President – Inward Investment, at Scottish Development International, which helps business get set up and expand within Scotland. He said: “More overseas businesses choose to invest in Scotland than any other UK location outside of London, with digital technology among the industries leading the way for Foreign Direct Investment. 

“What is really important is that we are developing technology expertise within Scotland’s workforce, as these skills are in high demand across the globe.  These skills, alongside the country’s world-class universities, competitive cost base and supportive business environment, continue to make Scotland an incredibly attractive investment location.”

A common challenge in the technology industry is the issue of gender imbalance and attracting women to the industry. Scotland Women in Technology (SWiT) has partnered with Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) and Cisco to deliver a highly acclaimed academic programme to upskill 100 women across Scotland in the field of cyber security. The programme is fully funded through Scottish Government and therefore accessible to all who fit the very open eligibility criteria. 

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