Q&A with Dan Botterill, chief executive of Ditto Sustainability, on his online automated advice service.
Can you explain what Ditto Sustainability’s technology is and how it works?
Essentially, it’s a software platform that has been designed to answer the question ‘How can I/we be sustainable?’ We use artificial intelligence (AI) and some quite advanced software development techniques to model the knowledge of experts, creating a more cost-effective alternative to the traditional consultancy and training services out there.
What does the technology offer to businesses managing waste/ recycling/resources?
Circular economy thinking is the foundation of our platform, vision and strategy. This links directly into how organisations manage waste and resources. Ultimately, our approach is based on helping to improve and be sustainable across three core areas; learning, compliance and data analysis.
Our learning platform provides hours of accredited content linked to waste and resources, including a wide range recognised by the Institute of Environmental Management & Assessment. This is a perfect tool to build knowledge, understanding and engage employees.
Our compliance platform provides a truly interactive way to determine, understand and monitor compliance. Based on your sector and activities, we can automatically configure a legal register and framework for an evidence base. And our data platform helps businesses to aggregate data from waste contractors, analyse performance and make recommendations on areas to improve and make savings.
What makes it unique?
We use a patented process to capture and harness expert knowledge from sustainability leaders, technology developers, consultants and lawyers to deliver cutting edge learning, compliance and data management solutions.
Using our technology, we are able to democratise expert knowledge and scale this expertise to individuals, teams and businesses to help them be more sustainable. Our ultimate vision is to be the new standard in sustainability software, education and advisory services.
How would users use the technology in their day-to-day work?
It is a flexible software-as-a-service solution, provided on a subscription basis. Access is provided against the learning, compliance and data components of the platform. How it is used depends on the user’s job function. Waste managers, for example, would benefit from access to the learning, compliance and data components. Ground level staff may simply be enrolled in specific learning activities. It depends on the business strategy and end goals.
How can the technology be slotted into existing operations?
With ease. The platform is cloud-based and accessible 24/7, with no need for any specialist software other than the recommended use of the latest browsers – which is a must from a security perspective anyway.
From an operational perspective, the platform has been designed to integrate and link to existing systems should there be a requirement – for example, linking to a waste contractor’s data management and reporting platform to avoid data double-handling.
Ditto Sustainability recently won a CivTech challenge seeking to find an efficient and robust data system to monitor NHS Scotland resources. What does this involve and how will it work?
“We use artificial intelligence and some quite advanced software development techniques to model the knowledge of experts, creating a more cost-effective alternative to the traditional consultancy and training services out there.”
We are thrilled to have won CivTech. NHS Scotland buys more than £2bn-worth of goods and services a year, and is motivated to prevent waste and maximise reuse opportunities. The challenge posed is of great significance in sustainability terms, linking a broad range of environmental, social and economic factors.
Managing assets and resources in a circular manner forms the bedrock of our proposal. Through the utilisation of best available technologies and AI, in particular, our aim is to scale, automate and democratise the knowledge that decision-makers need to prevent waste and drive efficiency.
The project represents a considerable challenge because of the scale of NHS Scotland, and the diversity of goods and services procured. This was a huge attraction for us as a technology company. The lessons learned here will not only help NHS Scotland but help us to develop a platform approach relevant to any organisation.
What other types of clients are using your technology? Why are they seeking to use it?
Sustainability applies to everyone. Our client base is therefore diverse, from waste producers across the private and public sector to waste management contractors and brokers.
Businesses generally come to us because the traditional sources of knowledge are too expensive and offer limited long-term value. Our integrated approach to learning, compliance and data management provides a one-stop solution that is not available anywhere else.
Dan Botterill is chief executive of start-up Ditto Sustainability