NatureScot, the lead public body advising Scottish Ministers on natural heritage matters, along with Informed Solutions, clinched the Digital Category award at the Scottish Government’s Scottish Planning Innovation Awards 2023 (SPIA 2023).

This prestigious accolade, evaluated by experts from across the Scottish planning sector, acknowledges NatureScot’s pioneering use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) through InformedDECISION™ – a groundbreaking AI-based decision support platform, which is transforming decision-making processes for planning proposals on sensitive land.

The announcement was made during the Scottish Planning Innovation Awards 2023 ceremony on Thursday, March 21, 2024 where Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning, presented the award to Darren Hemsley, Head of Supporting Good Development at NatureScot.

This achievement marks a significant milestone for InformedDECISION™, an innovative AI and NLP platform designed to speed-up and improve decision-making processes, allowing experts at NatureScot to allocate more time to priority policy areas related to climate and biodiversity crises.

NatureScot’s thoughtful and responsible approach to AI demonstrates exceptional leadership and innovation in enhancing decision-making processes and resulted in impressive results during its pilot phase, including:

  • 50-60% reduction in case triage time
  • 65-85% reduction in time for evaluating and responding to SSSI consents
  • 40-60% reduction in time for evaluating and responding to uncomplicated statutory consultations
  • 30% automatic case filtering
  • 86% of users finding the platform easy-to-use

The journey of InformedDECISION™, supported by the GovTech and CivTech Scotland accelerators, to becoming an award-winning platform reflects Scottish innovation at its best. It is in line to be expanded for use across all regions in Scotland, with teams exploring the  potential benefits for decision-making processes in similar organisations in the UK and local planning authorities who are facing similar challenges.

Seth Finegan, UK CEO of Informed Solutions, commented, “We are proud to have developed a world-class AI-based decision support platform that is helping NatureScot deliver an ambitious national transformation agenda to support environmental stewardship, net zero, natural resource sustainability, and the development of a sustainable and resilient rural economy.”

Innovation Showcase Webinar

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