Edinburgh to host global experts at first Data Summit

Dr Hannah Fry will be among the expert speakers at the Data Summit. Picture: David McDowall/Flock London

Dr Hannah Fry will be among the expert speakers at the Data Summit. Picture: David McDowall/Flock London

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Experts in the field of data science will gather in Edinburgh next month for the first event of its kind to be held north of the Border.

The inaugural Data Summit, to be held at the Assembly Rooms on George Street as part of DataFest17, will bring together innovators and blue-chip companies for a two-day programme that aims to showcase the social and commercial impact of data.

The first day, on 23 March, will focus on “proof” – current applications, experience and challenges in delivering value from data – while the following day will concentrate on “hypothesis”, or the future of information.

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Gillian Docherty, chief executive of The Data Lab, the publicly-funded innovation centre behind the summit, said: “Data innovation is disrupting all areas of our lives, from business to public services and beyond.

“The Data Summit, as the cornerstone of DataFest17, will provide insight into this dynamic and growing sector. The calibre of the programme speaks for itself, with keynotes, panels and pitches all brimming over with inspiration.”

Among those due to attend are former McLaren F1 technology expert Marc Priestley and Hilary Mason, founder of New York’s Fast Forward Labs, which helps organisations tap into the benefits of data science and machine intelligence. They will be joined by Nuria Oliver, director of research in data science at mobile phone giant Vodafone, and John Akred of Silicon Valley Data Science.

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Docherty added: “Scotland is a melting pot of data innovation and this event will showcase our leading role in data on the international stage. Data really does have the potential to change everything.”

Unicef, the United Nations’ humanitarian fund for children, is the official charity for DataFest17. Natalia Adler, the charity’s New York-based data, research and policy planning specialist, will also be among the industry speakers at the summit, as will mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, a lecturer at the centre for advanced spatial analysis at University College London and presenter of the BBC’s Joy of Data.

A range of other events have been planned as part of DataFest17, including Data Talent Scotland on 22 March at Murrayfield Stadium, where postgraduate students will be able to pursue opportunities with universities and employers.

There will also be a showcase for the financial technology sector, examining the future of banking, a look at how information can help drive innovation in the tourism industry, and a “data-driven” travelling art gallery on a bus.

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