Professor Seb Oliver, University of Sussex - Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning
Dr Thanassis Tiropanis and Dr Haitham Cruickshank, Petras Research Hub - Internet of Things
Victoria Evans, London Lead for Local Public Services, EY and Wajid Shafiq, CEO of Xantura - Smart Cities and the role of data
Expert talks were followed by an audience Q&A session
Liam Ward, Catalyst Team Project Manager at Sussex Innovation Centre, blogged about the session:
"Brighton Council were delighted to host a room of local leaders and business owners at the Sussex Innovation Centre, Sussex University this month, gathering to share their thoughts on Brighton, it’s smart city journey, and the technologies that will help our city get there over the next decade.
"Simon Newell, Head of Policy Partnerships and Scrutiny at Brighton and Hove Council, opened the session. Simon highlighted the major role that technology will play in ensuring our cities are fit for purpose for a rapidly changing population over the coming years. He opened to a packed room, with more chairs requested several times, and it was great to feel the energy and passion for Brighton at all levels.
"The first speaker, Professor Seb Oliver of the University of Sussex, delved into the potential applications for the future of artificial intelligence and machine learning. His day job comparing galaxies and applying data science to the universe around us has created unique opportunities to apply these techniques to problems within cities. For example, applying mathematic principles to predict flux probabilities for galaxies had led to similar results predicting dementia within patients – just one example of the possibilities when we think about data differently and collaboratively. The University has a host of lecturers working within data science, AI and machine learning and its clear from Seb’s presentation that there is great potential for data based solutions to our city and our society’s challenges.
"Dr Thanassis Tiropanis of the Petras Research Hub, a specialist Internet of Things research hub spanning 9 universities and 65 companies, then shared his insights on their work with the Internet of Things. Data sharing is currently a hot topic, but the landscape is barren. Specialist searches and access requirements hold up innovation, and with due reason, but Thanassis proposed a new model to address these challenges while ensuring momentum. Petras are working on a centralised database, a Google for data, that allows us to distribute data sets with permission and have people access it to create solutions to problems. With access control, anonymisation, high quality data and transparency, innovators could access data sets needed to create products or services to better serve our cities – an interesting concept and one for which Thanassis’ passion really shows. It’s these ground up initiatives that can help us to make the quickest progress towards better cities and data sharing. Dr Haitham Cruickshank, also of the Petras Research Hub, then gave an example of open data working in smart cities. With 5G connected vehicles, AI could reduce the need for human drivers, easing traffic caused by human mistakes. However, security threats associated with car locations, terrorism and data hacks mean that we need collaboration from industry, government and public sectors to ensure that all possible threats are managed.
"Our final speakers, Victoria Evans of EY and Wajid Sahfiq of Xantura, both focused on smart cities and the role of big data and analytics. For EY, smart cities mean the integration of data and city services to improve public services. Victoria highlighted our need to be thinking about resilience of cities and how our vulnerable citizens are affected by the changes we are seeing in cities, with 4 key issues driving change:
- Increasing population density
- Aging infrastructure
- Quality of life
- Safety and security
"A case study carried out in a London Borough gave rise to many questions, including:
- What does being smart mean to different places?
- How will it save money or create efficiencies?
"Wajid Sahfiq, CEO of Xantura, has worked on data in cities for 10 years. Rather than infrastructure projects, or smart tech, Wajid highlighted how ‘early intervention’ in public services is often already too late, and that with big data, we can start as a society to reach people who may need help before problems occur. Crucially, cities often have 30 or 40 data sets that are never collated. When used to create a single view, we can create interventions far earlier. Challenges arise again around data quality, varying data sets across councils and government, but the potential for recognising at risk people before early intervention stage is promising – creating not just smart infrastructure but smart services for people too.
"Speakers were followed by a Q&A from the audience, generating discussion around the value of data, collaborative ways to create social good, how to encourage (or compel) the private sector to contribute social value and future skills demand and supply – it was also no surprise to see GDPR get a mention. The panel also spoke on safeguarding against bias being built in to AI, big data in politics and the risks of excluding those who don’t have access to technology from smart cities. The event generated a real buzz around the possibilities for our cities and showed that there is a seat at the table for all kinds of organisations to help shape the future of Brighton."
Throughout the talks the audience were encouraged to contribute questions to our Slido event page, which were voted on and ranked in order of popularity
To see all Slido submissions and leave any questions or comments for follow-up events visit the main site https://www.sli.do/
The event code is: #5034
Key themes arising from discussion were:
- Big Data
- Ethics of data
- Sharing of data
- Internet of Things
- Connected and smart cities
- Predictive analytics
Post-event we surveyed attendees and asked: What do you think is the most important question for policy makers when considering Data Intelligence in the future towards 2030?
The replies were as follows:
“There seems a fundamental mismatch between expectations that data held by public bodies should be open access, but data harvested by private companies is private and only for sale. Private companies should be forced to make some (anonymised) data freely available for policy making for the public good. Oh, and pay their taxes.”
“How do we build a consistent, well-trained community of analysts across the Council and with our partners - a group that develop the underlying capabilities needed to meet demand?”
“What problem are you seeking to solve. Data and data intelligence is part of the solution or the response, it is not the end product or silver bullet. Policy and decision makers need to work back from the policy challenge to see how data can inform and build a strategic policy response.”
“How do you avoid leaving some parts of society behind in the journey to the future and what would be the effect if you don't address this?”
“Integrating public and private data whilst safeguarding individual privacy for the common good ( social contract)”
“What data do we need - ie what are we trying to find out? As opposed to what data can we get”
“How might we encourage the private sector to collaborate/share their data for the wider social good?”
“How to unlock the enormous potential of data to help us lead healthier, longer, more productive, wealthier, more enjoyable and more sustainable lives, while at the same time keeping data secure and protected from being used in ways that are to the detriment of specific groups of people.”
“How can the citizen be really involved in the development of using big data to inform change?”
“Accessibility and useability”
“I am interested to know how policy makers will ensure that all areas of the city (private, public and CVS) are all included in the process of Data Intelligence, that end user groups are consulted and that there is investment in training so that digital and analytic skills are improved across sectors.”
“Cooperation. (inc. sharing, privacy, security interoperability,...)”
“All Data Intelligence should be supported and approved by an ethical panel”
On the basis of feedback from attendees we hope to follow up this event with a further event or events delving deeper into areas of interest, such as the ethics of big data, practical applications in Brighton and Hove, and the future of collaboration between the public and private sectors in data intelligence and data sharing.