Scotland was the true home of Data last week. Given the recent scandal with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, this year’s DataFest couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time! DataFest, a week-long data innovation festival run by The Data Lab Scotland, is comprised of Data Talent, Data Summit, and a range of fringe events around Scotland – you can read more about the festival and our involvement in our recent blog post here. We had a fantastic week taking part in all things data, keep reading to find out more.
The week kicked-off for BDP at Data Talent. As Silver Sponsors of the Data Talent event, we had the opportunity to meet and speak with data science and engineering students from across Scotland. Our afternoon workshop hosted by Erin Boyle, Graduate Programme Manager and Ehab El Badrawi, Junior BDP Consultant, covered everything from our graduate programmes to Ehab’s first-hand account of his experience going through this process and the work he now does as a BDP Consultant working with major clients on exciting projects.
Later in the week came Data Summit. The two-day conference, hosted by Maggie Philbin OBE, presented stories on data driven innovation with keynotes, panels, and pitches.
Day one started with Hannah Fry (if you don’t already know her, check our her Ted Talks on mathematics and humans) showing us the power of data in helping understand, and limit, the spread of pandemics in the future. Hannah’s studies used anonymised participant data to show how a virtual contagion was spreading and at what rate. The study also allowed for mapping in the future, before such an event becomes catastrophic in the UK and overseas. These studies were highlighted in the BBC Four show, Pandemic which you can watch on the BBC now. It was fantastic to see how data can be used to simulate a contagion and to prepare us for when a real life pandemic hits the UK.
Throughout both days there was a continuation of this theme: when data (appropriately used with shared responsibility and the public’s trust) can impact positively across all sectors. It was highlighted that shared data would not only benefit the other public bodies and the NHS, but also smaller, private and start-up organisations. An example of this was presented by Alex Depledge, creator of Hassle.com, a London based online booking and payment platform that connects customers with cleaners. In the development stages Alex zoned in on the data which led to a more focus approach and ultimately hugely successful business. When utilised appropriately, data truly benefits everyone.
The day two highlight for BDP was Dr Iain Brown, Lead Data Scientist at SAS, taking us through how AI is driving forward sales in business’s including Shop Direct. They are currently exploring how AI can help to determine which out of hundreds of items of clothing matching the shoppers search criteria, are the most appropriate to display first, thereby negating shopper fatigue.
DataFest18 is a wrap!
It’s fair to say we had a fantastic time at DataFest18. Big thanks to The Data Lab and DataFest team for organising such a great event! We had a great time meeting the future of Data at Data Talent and hearing all about the exciting ways data can be used, the Future of Data is looking bright and we’re excited to be part of it.