Edinburgh one of most digitally connected places

The Capital has a 'remarkably high' level of internet connectivity. Picture: Greg Macvean

The Capital has a 'remarkably high' level of internet connectivity. Picture: Greg Macvean

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Edinburgh residents are in the driving seat when it comes to making the most of the information superhighway, a major new study has found.

The city is one of the most digitally connected communities in Scotland, with local businesses cashing in on digital opportunities and web developers helping make the lives of ordinary residents easier, according to the report by a University of Edinburgh computer expert.

Professor Michael Fourman found that Scottish families living in poverty were more likely to live in “black spots” where few people had any connection to the internet.

But Edinburgh was praised as having a “remarkably high” level of internet connectivity, despite certain areas suffering from the effects of “isolation and deprivation”.

“Edinburgh certainly has good infrastructure compared with other places in Scotland,” Prof Fourman said.

“One of the reasons is having three universities in the city, as well as quite a big tech community.

“Places with lots of people online get a buzz, and so more people go online.”

According to Prof Fourman’s study, the city has the third highest level of digital connectivity of any local authority in Scotland, with 72 per cent of residents able to access the internet.

That has attracted major economic investment, with international firms such as flight booking website Skycanner lured by Edinburgh’s web-savvy workforce.

“We have a thriving start-up culture in Edinburgh, that brings in talent, jobs and money. Many of the businesses in the city can benefit from that culture,” Prof Fourman said.

“The fact that we have one of the world’s leading airline booking sites in Edinburgh is thanks to the fact that we had a little start-up that built their iPad and iPhone app for them.”

Edinburgh’s internet boom hasn’t just boosted company profits, with Prof Fourman saying ordinary residents have had their lives improved through digital innovation.

And he said Edinburgh is “leading the way” in moving community newsletters and noticeboards online.

“If you go to any bus stop in Edinburgh today, you’ll see people taking out their mobile phones to see when their bus is coming. We were one of the first cities to that, because we had some entrepreneurs around who threw an app together. By the time the festivals happen this summer, we should be seeing free wifi in Edinburgh to support people telling each other where the best shows are.”

“It helps with the economy, it helps with education, and it helps with culture.”

Trumping Disney

APP designers at the National Museum of Scotland are celebrating victory in a prestigious design competition over one of the biggest names in world media – Disney.

The Highlights iPhone app, which guides visitors around the museum’s exhibits, won top prize in the 2014 Drum Design Awards, beating an offering from Disney into second place.

Created by Edinburgh app design agency xDesign, the interactive app providers museum visitors with additional images and information as they make their way around the building, and helps them navigate to the most treasured pieces in the collection.

It also keeps users updated on special exhibits and events being held at the museum, which welcomed a record two million visitors within a year of being refurbished in 2011.