Scotland’s national parks and rural and coastal spaces are developing diverse projects deploying sensors, IoT, digital tools such as apps and dashboards to help manage visitors responsibly. This workshop, in partnership with CENSIS, explores how data collected from sensor projects can be used strategically. We’ll also learn more about some of the work being developed in visitor destinations to understand how digital tools such as apps can influence visitor behaviour, and get an introduction to some of them from those active in visitor management across Scotland.

This event is aimed at: Organisations and stakeholders involved in managing responsible tourism; visitor spaces, tourism networks, councils and third sector organisations.


Register here to attend.


Founded by electrical engineer student Dale Colley, Altitude Thinking Ltd is on a mission to tackle marine pollution by using innovative technology in rivers and canals, capable of monitoring water quality and collection of marine waste.

Scotland’s rivers, canals and waterways represent an irreplaceable, high-value resource to the Scottish economy and make a major contribution to the tourism industry and biodiversity.

An electrical engineering graduate from City of Glasgow College, Colley was keen to tap into academic expertise to seek help in applying technology to tackle water pollution. He was looking for an innovative solution to develop, construct and test a prototype of a programmable drone that will be able to be deployed and subsequently safely navigate Scottish waterways and produce accurate, real-time reports on water pollution levels and in the future to remove litter and other pollutants from waterways using suction pumps.

Although Colley had no previous experience of drones or the marine sector, as an engineer he knew he could invent a device that could monitor water quality and tackle marine pollution.

The City of Glasgow College is one of Scotland’s largest Further and Higher Education colleges and the UK’s number one college for WorldSkills UK, which is a partnership between business, education and governments to accelerate the development of young people’s skills from national to world-class standards.

The College is renowned for its work in the areas of Nautical Studies, Engineering and Maritime studies and has a mix of skills, workshop facilities and expertise required for this project such as electronics, electrical systems, marine engineering, navigation and propulsion – under one roof at the college’s Riverside Campus.

City of Glasgow College’s STEM and Innovation Lead, Douglas Morrison had the necessary academic expertise and was keen to work in partnership with Altitude Thinking Ltd to develop, construct and test a prototype of a programmable drone. The suggested prototype will be a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) equipped with motors making it capable of being deployed to a Scottish waterway alongside a range of sensors and data gathering and transmission facilities, allowing it to report back on pollutants detected.

Most people think of drones as craft that fly in the air but his is designed to travel on the surface of rivers and canals to monitor water quality. Altitude Thinking hopes to develop it even further to have the capability to collect litter, cleaning up Scotland’s waterways and freeing them of blockages – rather like the little robot vacuums that can be programmed to clean floors.

This collaboration project was successfully awarded a £5000 Scottish Funding Council (SFC) Innovation Voucher, administered by Interface to allow partners to look at engineering development for subsequent drones with enhanced capabilities to remove litter and other pollutants from waterways using suction pumps.

This innovative project combines portability with pollution detection, as well as data gathering and transmission, allowing for larger models to be built up over a longer period.

Business benefits

An award of an Innovation Voucher has taken Coley from the design stage to making a physical prototype which, with the help from Scottish Canals, is currently going through field trials monitoring water quality in canals.

Academic benefits

Douglas added:

“Dale’s novel application and the way he has integrated them is what adds value and presents an opportunity to change how environmental conditions are monitored in Scotland. His long-term ambition is to support the clean-up of canals and rivers and with supported funding to commercialise it he anticipates seeing it on the market within the next year.”

“It’s a wonderful product and looks incredible. It’s really cool – like a water-bound batmobile – and I believe it will help us to have a better understanding of what is happening within our rivers and canals. What is particularly interesting about it is that it is very much based on a range of readily available sensor technologies.”

Additional impacts

This collaborative project has already delivered a series of successful outcomes associated with the mark 1 drone, its testing and ongoing reviews, modifications and future markets.

Altitude Thinking’s invention has been recognised locally and nationally for its innovative work when being shortlisted for the Global Game-changers for Young Entrepreneurs and made the final shortlist for the Shell Livewire.

Dale has also presented his recent work to her Royal Highness – Princess Anne on her visit to the City of Glasgow College.

Follow on activity

December 2020 – City of Glasgow College, in collaboration with Altitude Thinking Ltd, has been awarded £23,500 to support the ongoing development of a mobile device that will read and analyse water quality. The project aims to deliver a new prototype – Aquabot 2.0. This drone can be remotely operated on the surface of rivers, canals or lochs to monitor water quality. The grant was awarded by the Innovation Centre for Sensor and Imaging Systems (CENSIS) who are also contributing their expertise on engineering wirelessly operating IoT devices. 

Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.