MacKay Hannah

Data driven placemaking: how to deliver innovation with data


Diarmaid Lawlor

Associate Director – Place, Scottish Futures Trust

Diarmaid is the Associate Director for place at the Scottish Futures Trust.

He was previously Head of Urbanism with Architecture and Design Scotland. An urbanist, with a multi disciplinary background, he has worked on projects involving the shaping and implementation of change for clients in Ireland, the UK and Europe, for the public, private and tertiary sectors. He has almost 20 years' experience of helping clients make well informed decisions about complex, connected urban policy and investment challenges. He is an educator, communicator and collaborator who writes and speaks on creative approaches to making better places.

SFT_Scotland UrbScotland

Yalena Coleman

Solution Architect, Connected Places Catapult

Yalena is a technology and data specialist who has worked across Europe, Asia and Africa, with a focus on data governance, digital strategy, software and product development, IoT, and cybersecurity. She is currently a Solution Architect at Connected Places Catapult, the UK’s innovation accelerator for places – covering verticals or ecosystems such as local decision making institutions, transport and new mobility, sustainability, wellbeing, critical infrastructure, and the built environment. Her primary focus is on CPC’s impartial ‘innovation as a service’ offering to catalyse step-change improvements in the way people live, work and travel.


Gemma Cassells

Lead Strategist – City Region Deal, Data Driven Innovation Initiative, University of Edinburgh

After completing my PhD (University of Edinburgh School of GeoSciences) in 2013, I initally worked for NGOs and in academia, pursuing my interests in the application of science to current environmental problems, and how best to communicate this to policymakers and the public. Working for local authorities, I have become an expert in the use of data driven innovation in to support public service delivery, developing strategic thinking, leadership, negotiation and facilitation skills. I use service design tools and participatory methods to co-design effective services, particularly around smart cities, sustainability and improving the use of data for decision making. My experience and expertise was recognised with the award of Chartered Geographer and I am a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

My PhD researched issues surrounding the use of remote sensing for mapping forest cover change in Malawi, with regards to in-country sustainable forest management activities as well as the monitoring, reporting and verification requirements of REDD+. This technical experience has given me a thorough grounding in statistical analysis and carbon accounting at local, national and international levels. My research also allowed me to pursue my interests in developing innovative strategies for tackling our current environmental challenges, and looking at the gendered impacts of environmental issues, which I explored further through both paid and voluntary work with New Course. 


Catherine Topley

Chief Executive, Scottish Canals


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The background history of the UNCRC was very useful to confirm how my role fits into the wider context.

Know Your Children's Rights Seminar, 3rd October 2017