Nicola Sturgeon at Data Summit

Data Summit 2021 – a fantastic day for Scotland’s data community

Five years of DataFest coming to a crescendo with Data Summit 2021

Data Summit has always been the grand finale of DataFest and the 2021 edition – while a little different – lived up to previous years. DataFest is in its fifth year now and after having to cancel in 2020 due to Covid-19 the whole team was delighted to be back to hosting these amazing events in person.

Nina Schick at Data Summit

Up until Data Summit, the DataFest21 events had been online and explored the theme of “our data” – discussing the way in which data affects people’s everyday lives. We spread the virtual events throughout the year; in May we explored ‘our future’, in September ‘our people’ and in October ‘our planet’ to coincide with COP26.

The first physical event was Data Summit in November where we were excited to welcome a limited number of delegates to the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh for a day of insightful talks and panels.

Our CEO Gillian Docherty opened her last Data Summit

Gillian Docherty OBE, Chief Executive of The Data Lab, was the first to take to the stage; welcoming guests to Data Summit for the last time before she moves on to a new role at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow in early 2022.

We had the wonderful Gemma Milne hosting the event who did a fantastic job of guiding the audience through the packed schedule of speakers and facilitating some fascinating Q&A sessions. Maggie Philbin hosted our online audience and was as fabulous as ever.

Kevin Fong at Data Summit

Our keynotes began with Nina Schick whose cautionary keynote warned of the dangers of deepfakes and synthetic future.

Kevin Fong struck an emotional and inspirational note with his ‘Anatomy of Hope’ talk which resonated with many people in the audience.

We were delighted to have Reema Patel from the Ada Lovelace institute deliver an incredibly thought provoking keynote before the first of our two panel sessions, featuring three companies we had featured throughout the year in our ‘data stories’ video series; Space Intelligence, Data Innovation.AI and Storm ID. Their fascinating discussion showed that Scotland is very much at the cutting edge of data and AI innovation.

Mike Berners-Lee delivered a staggering keynote about climate change and personal responsibility before giving way to the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon to discuss Scotland’s place in the fight against climate change.

An inspirational discussion on ethics and technology

Data Stories Discussion PanelPA discussion around the ethics of artificial intelligence was facilitated by Nina Schick, Reema Patel, Alessandra Fassio of the UN Data for Children Collaboration, and Steph Wright – the head of the Scottish AI Alliance Support Circle.

The breadth of the knowledge on display was inspirational, as were the ideas about how AI can be utilised to solve the world’s problems.

The day was brought to a close by Chris Moon who delivered a powerful keynote about hope, determination, and the power of positive thinking – the perfect way to end a day of high-concept discussions and future-thinking.

Data Summit may not have looked like previous years, but it was a huge success nonetheless and we’re delighted with the feedback we’ve been getting from the attendees, the speakers, and everyone involved. We had people from 26 countries on five continents joining us online, showing the power of hybrid events for bringing Scottish innovation to an international audience.

Take a look at our Twitter Moments from Data Summit 2021.

Have a read of Digit’s Data Summit 2021 run down.

See you at DataFest 2022!

We’ve already started planning DataFest 2022 and we can’t wait to show you all what we have in store. Data Talent – postponed from 2021 – will take place on the 15th of March 2022 in Glasgow and we’ll be announcing details and tickets shortly. Until then, make sure you’re following our social channels so you can keep up to date with the plans as they’re announced. See you in 2022!

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