Festival hailed for promoting ethical use of data

Finance secretary Derek Mackay hailed the impact of Scotland's growing data sector
Finance secretary Derek Mackay hailed the impact of Scotland's growing data sector
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Championing the ethical use of data in the wake of the Facebook scandal was one of the successes of a major industry event in Scotland, organisers have said.

The 2018 DataFest saw more than 3,000 participants at 45 events across seven towns and cities in Scotland. It took place as the public debate on the alleged breach of Facebook user data was at its height.

It gathered businesses and academics to promote the benefits of the industry.

Gillian Doherty, chief executive of event organisers The Data Lab, said: “DataFest took place at a time when data was top of the news agenda.

“What DataFest18 achieved was putting the potential positive power of data to the fore. A prominent theme throughout the week was the ethical use of data which has to remain a key focus for everyone in the industry.

“The data sector in Scotland is on the rise and the success of DataFest underlines this. It is essential that events like this shine a light on the prospective benefits and opportunities that can be achieved when data is used ethically.”

Finance secretary Derek Mackay, who addressed the two-day Data Summit in Edinburgh, said: “Scotland already has impressive data infrastructure and skills, with world class research taking place in our universities and a thriving data business sector. We are now in a great position to seize the advantage of data driven innovation to help boost our economy and become the data capital of Europe.”

Forty-four fringe events took place across Scotland including hackathons, networking and inspiring workshop sessions for school pupils stretching from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Kirk Borne, principal data scientist at Booz Allen Hamilton, said: “DataFest 2018 was perhaps the most thoroughly comprehensive and exciting data extravaganza that I have ever experienced. An entire country got into the fun, with talks and hackathons and panels and social-good activities.

“The conversations surrounding the event were informative and insightful, There was something at DataFest for everyone who works with data.”