DATA Play 10 is here... looking back and forward

DATA Play 10 got off to a great start. The Rolle Marquee at the University of Plymouth was a great venue and the room was soon buzzing with ideas and creativity. It was great to see old friends and lots of new faces getting to know each other and data playing.

Tom Westrope from Plymouth City Council kicked off the day with an introduction to DATA Play 10 and an explanation on how the mini tasks would work and what prizes were up for grabs! We also had an introduction to the Environmental Futures & Big Data Impact Lab and the South West Creative Technology Network and what funding is available for start ups and technology ideas.

How do we understand the world through data?

The first talk of the day was our keynote speaker, Mike Phillips from i-DAT (@idatorg). Mike talked about data sense, asking; How come, with the not inconsiderable investment in environmental data science and climate change modelling, we are so surprised by the climate emergency? For all our data literacy, our ability to ‘feel’ data is a missing ingredient in our ability to change behaviour. Can we use behaviourables and futurables design strategies for visualising and modelling urban and rural activity to enable people to change behaviours?

Everyone then had a chance to try some of the cool tech equipment the library service (@plymlibraries) had brought along, a chance to explore the cool portable dome and complete some of the mini tasks – all eyes are on the Data is Beautiful books!

Next up was Richard Abrahams who gave us an insight into synaesthesia – which can include visualising colours when listening to music, experiencing different tastes associated with different words and other sensory combinations. He also gave us the opportunity to see what colour our voice is – mind blowing!

After a quick coffee break and a few snacks, we regrouped to listen to Lauren Ansell from the Sustainable Earth Institute (@PlymEarth) talk about using social media data, in particular how to extract useful information from Twitter. Then Matt Longman from Devon and Cornwall Police (@DC_Police) gave us a quick run-down on their Stop & Search data and how they want ideas on how they can use this data and visualise it in ways that help people see what is being delivered, how and where.

Then there was more time to network and continue with the mini tasks before lunch. The maps were proving popular with everyone wanting to plot their favourite building, green space and place to relax!


After a busy morning and a yummy pizza lunch, we gathered to listen to our very own Zoe Sydenham from the Natural Infrastructure Team (@NaturePlymouth) discuss the future of parks and how we can use data and technology to solve challenges and influence future green spaces.

Services are about people and crayons always beat code!

Next up was the wonderful Lucy Knight (@Jargonautical) talking about data x design. She talked about how data science doesn’t answers questions, it asks questions – that ultimately services are about people and crayons always beat code! If you understand people it will help answer questions and build better services.

We then had a great talk from Katharine Willis (@trolleytweet) from the University of Plymouth and Martin Howitt (@MartinHowitt) from the DATA Place Plymouth who talked about smart cities and the internet of things and how connectivity enables us to do things. They posed some really thoughtful questions about economics; what happens when the spaces around us get more intelligent than us and when we link people, places and technology – what can happen?

It was then time for another coffee break with more ‘speed DATAing’ and challenge exploration before the last talk of the day from Theo McCaie (@informatics_lab). Theo talked about Pangeo and how the Met Office deals with the large volume of data they collect. Not only is their data big but also complicated which take super computers to handle all the data that they process!

It’s been another great DATA Play, thanks to all those involved and we look forward to seeing you all at DATA Play 11. Happy data playing!
1 November 2019

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