DATA Play 8 is here...

DATA Play 8 kicked off to a great start, helped by the great venue provided by the STEM Hub at City College which really fitted in with the DATA Play vibe and encouraged some great creativity and digital networking.

Tom Westrope from Plymouth City Council kicked started the day with an introduction to DATA Play and what people could hope to get out of the day. Then Andy Robinson from the STEM Hub set the mood of the day by showing CrazyTalk, a 3D facial animation software tool which looked great fun!

Plymouth, small enough to manage, big enough to matter

We then moved on to our keynote speaker, Ed Whitelaw (@EdWhitelaw) from Real Ideas Organisation who opened up discussions around economics and how social enterprises can help drive a socially sustainable economy. Ed posed some really thoughtful questions about economics; is it even about mathematics or more to do with social science? He also provided us with our favourite quote of the day: ‘Plymouth, small enough to manage, big enough to matter!’

After a quick coffee break and a few snacks, we reconvened to listen to Michelle Virgo (@MichelleVirgo) from Plymouth Social Enterprise Network talk on the role of social networks and how we need to challenge the way we think about Plymouth. She talked through some of the challenges they face around measuring economic activity and how we could use data to make a better economy and use it to see if it’s improving people’s lives and contributing to environmental sustainability.

Next up were staff from Plymouth City Council’s housing department who set out the council’s housing agenda and plans for homes over the next 30 years. Josh Pulston talked about his work with Plymouth Connects and how he finds suitable housing for homeless people. Liz Dunster and Juliette Jackson from the housing delivery team gave a great talk about some of the issues they face delivering housing in Plymouth. They talked about homelessness, empty homes and self-builds and wanted to know how we can use data to know what housing people in Plymouth want and how we can get smarter at delivery the housing people need.

Just before lunch, everyone had a chance to try some of the cool kit we brought with us (we finally got the Makey Makey working), explore the challenges, swap stories and share ideas. The team also did some spot interviews asking people what they like about DATA Play and what they hope to get out of it. From this morning, it sounds like a lot!


After a busy morning and great lunch, we regrouped to listen to pupils of Plymouth School of Creative Arts talk about their project Emoti-OS, a chatbot that uses conversations with its users to understand the collective mood of pupils at the school. They created the chatbot to give pupils a voice and a way to express how they feel about important matters at the school. By using software developed by IBM the chatbot is able to identify the tones in conversation then outputs this as an emoji-style image.

It was then time for another coffee break with more ‘speed DATAing’ and challenge exploration before settling down for the last talk of the day from Glen Crust (@glencrust) which focussed on wellbeing economics. Glen gave us real insight into the impact your chosen job or career has on your wellbeing and posed the question; to what extent do you feel the things in your life are worthwhile? A thought-provoking talk with interesting and surprising data.

A fantastic first day and tomorrow is looking to be just as exciting and productive!

17 November 2017

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