Of all the talks I’ve attended recently, @GescheSchmid summed up what big data means to me when she said “Visualise the data, make it understandable to citizens so they can engage with it”.
It’s is a message which resonates because it perfectly describes what we are doing in Leeds. Over the past few months, I’ve been working with a number of others to bring people from different industries together across the city. Our focus is to highlight the ways different individuals and organisations use big data. We set up “Leeds Data Thing” to bring like-minded people together to talk about data, network, share ideas, learn a few things and have a beer or two together.
We couldn’t help but be surprised when the first Leeds Data Thing event sold out within 24 hours. We knew there were some people interested in data in the city, but hadn’t realised there would be such high demand to be at the event. We packed out a room with 50 people from health, academia, finance, business, marketing agencies, the city council, statisticians, designers, and developers!
Because of the enthusiasm and interest that we’ve had, the stage is well and truly set to take Leeds’ love of data to a global stage. The International Big Data Week is a festival held in over 20 cities worldwide from the 22nd -28th April. 2013 marks the first time that Leeds will act as a Big Data Week host city – and Leeds Data Thing, along with Bloom Agency, is at the heart of organising and hosting everything.
Aiming to attract a plethora of different sectors, we are running a range of events across the city during Big Data Week. From a session on market research and big data, to an opportunity for different community groups to discuss the data they hold, to a body of data experts, we’re also experimenting with creating a living, virtual capsule of how the city uses and consumes data in a day.
The week culminates in a Big Data Challenge where we’ve set the themese as “How healthy is your city?” Entrants from 20 cities - including Leeds, Moscow, Barcelona, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpa, Beirut, and Toronto will use data to explain why their city is the healthiest. Leeds Data Thing has managed to attract an expert panel of well-known judges who will be awarding prizes and ranking entrants on a global scale.
With each city focussing on finding useful data and localising it to their city, we’re hoping teams will be able to produce outputs that provide local citizens with information in an understandable format – highlighting how data can be used to engage with non-technical audiences.
I’ll be writing another blog post after the event to highlight the winning entries from Leeds, as well as each of the other international cities, along with the overall international winner.
We’re launching tickets soon…