Live: Scotsman’s virtual Data Conference 2020

One of the world’s biggest and most ambitious data conferences is being hosted online and for free today.

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The Scotsman Data Conference 2020 is being hosted virtually on Friday, November 6 – and its line-up offers a dynamic agenda and an ethical take on data in a post-Covid era to anyone working with, or who wants to embrace, data in business.

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Sponsored by the University of Edinburgh, Data-Driven Innovation, Baillie Gifford, the Data and Marketing Association and Accenture, this year’s event has rapidly adapted to the changing landscape in the UK and beyond in 2020.

And it’s against the data-rich backdrop of the pandemic – and how information has shaped the government responses and the public’s knowledge of the Covid journey – that this year’s data conference is set.

Chaired by David Lee, participants at the virtual event can enjoy a packed day of top quality speakers and intelligent debate, diving into the core of data use, evolving opportunities and ethical approaches.

Introducing the day is Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, Peter Mathieson, who will discuss the power of partnership.

The keynote speakers throughout the day include Leith MSP Ben Macpherson, Scottish Government Minister for Public Finance, who will speak on the essential role of data collaboration during a crisis, and Timandra Harkness, author of Big Data: Does Size Matter? Before answering a lively Q & A, she will address whether Big Data equals Big Brother.

Covid 19 – the most data driven pandemic in history

Next up a crucial panel of experts will debate data, Covid-19 and public services. Heading the bill is Jason Leitch, National Clinical Director at the Scottish Government, with Kenneth Meechan, Head of Information and Data Protection Officer Glasgow City Council, Gemma Cassells, DDI, lead for the public sector, Gillian Docherty, CEO, the Data Lab and Rowan Conway, Head of UCL’s Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose Mission Oriented Innovation Network.

Data, of course, helps us predict and plan the future, but learns greatly from the past. Enjoy the discussion of Data in Public Health Crises past and present as a panel moderated by Jonathan Seckl, Moncrieff Arnott Professor of Molecular Medicine and Senior Vice-Principal, University of Edinburgh debate the issues, and explore what has influence the way we react in the 21st century.

Digital breadcrumbs

The afternoon line-up is equally tantalising; immediately after lunch Sandy Pentland from the Massachussetts Institute of Technology - described as “one of the seven most powerful data scientists in the world” - will address community data – and how you can reclaim your own.

In a section headed Data and People guest speakers will look beyond the analytics. Firas Khnaisser, Chair, DMA Scotland says enough about data, let's talk about people. Data skills and the wider tech skills landscape will be the focus for Katy Guthrie, Head of Data, ScotlandIS.

Firas and Katy will then be joined by Darren Seymour-Russell, Head of Data Science, Mudano (part of Accenture Applied Intelligence) for a Q & A to explore the fascinating subject further.

Covid-19 shone a spotlight on the frailties of the care sector, but can a new £20m partnership project in Edinburgh - with data at its heart - make a difference? Discussing data’s role in the revolution to come will be John Godfrey, Legal & General, Ian Underwood, University of Edinburgh, Susan Shenkin,University of Edinburgh and Lynne Baillie, Director, Interactive and Trustworthy Technologies Research Group, Heriot-Watt University.

Just how much will data innovation shape the UK Government’s industrial strategy for decades to come? Will it help ‘level up’ the regions from a Westminster-centric world?

Tackling financial exclusion

The siting of the Global Open Finance Centre of Excellence in Edinburgh is big news for the city – but what does open finance really mean, can it cut through to making an impact at a societal level and what role does data have to play?

Gavin Starks, founder at IcebreakerOne.org & Dgen.net, Gbenga Ibikunle, University of Edinburgh, Nicola Anderson, FinTech Scotland and Zachery Anderson, Royal Bank of Scotland will discuss the opportunities and challenges of open finance.

Wrapping up the day #DataConf20 will return to the ethics are the heart of data, with Shannon Vallor, Baillie Gifford char in the Ethics of Data and Artificial Intelligence asking “are we doing data right?”. Shannon’s research explores the philosophy and ethics of emerging science and technologies. Her current research project focuses on the impact of emerging technologies, particularly those involving automation and artificial intelligence, on the moral and intellectual habits, skills and virtues of human beings: our character.

Her session will explore the fusion of technology and ethics, melding to create a future worth wanting.