Featured Digital Scot: Gavin Neate – The Neatebox

Pioneering Digital Scots

Gavin Neate is an inspiring example of the entrepreneurial ingenuity being cultivated in Scotland, and the Neatebox products he’s developing an exemplar case study of the concept of ‘Social Smart Cities’.

Building on his 18 years of experience of working with guide dogs he is pioneering technologies that make cities more accessible and helpful to disabled people.

The first product ‘Button‘ has now been followed that with the launch of their app ‘Welcome’ at a customer event at the Forth Valley Sensory Centre and The Falkirk Wheel on 27th July.

Button – Social Smart Cities

As described in this earlier blog Smart Cities is one of those IT domains that is somewhat guilty of obsessing about technology for technology’s sake, from self-driving cars, smart traffic lights through AI and the IoT (Internet of Things), but without any meaningful context or objective for how they will better enrich and improve the lives of those living in cities.

Gavin and the Neatebox innovations demonstrate that when you first define the user needs of specific social groups and then apply the technology towards those needs, tangible and socially valuable outcomes are much easier to identify and achieve.

As this BBC feature video demonstrates the first Neatebox application ‘Button’ is an example, a very simple concept that exploits smart devices and mobile phones, to automatically activate pedestrian crossings for disabled users, a simple process for others but for the blind or those in wheelchairs can prove to be a very difficult challenge. The app has already won the DfT Inclusive Transportation award for their initial installation in Largs.

Welcome

Gavin’s second product, the ‘Welcome‘ app, continues this theme of being sensitive to the societal challenges the disabled face, in this case their experiences of retail and office environments.

Described in this video it highlights how shockingly some can even experience humiliating treatment from high street stores, a terrible reflection upon those brands and thus what they should seek to avoid but more importantly do so as part of an overall customer-centric program of being welcoming and inviting to all social groups.

The Welcome app makes this easy for stores – The user downloads the app and inputs their details including the nature of their impairment, which then alerts the store and their staff upon their entry. It even transmits a summary of best practices for how best to accomodate and help, from expertise provided by relevant organizations in that field. Ie. it literally enables them to be more welcoming.

Inspiring Edinburgh

Gavin’s interview with Inspired Edinburgh is one of a series showcasing the dynamic entrepreneurs the city boasts.

With coverage such as this Scotsman interview, Gavin is trail-blazing inspiring leadership for other entrepreneurs to follow, in particular offering a real life demonstration of the principles of ‘Social Business‘. Scotland’s history of inventive entrepreneurship and inherently social nature makes it an ideal venue to pioneer what will become the most important business trend of the 21st century.

Neatebox is a winner of Edge funding, making possible their new Welcome product and demonstrating just how potent and valuable these types of awards are to encouraging and enabling small business innovation. The 11th round has now opened for their next cohort of new ventures similarly enabled to fast-track new product growth.

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