“The whole event was focused on amplifying the existing business, civic and cultural ties between the Netherlands and the north of England,” said Paul Connell, founder of ODI Leeds, a node of the Open Data Institute which hosted the Northernlands Summit on 2nd May.
The one-day Northernlands Data and Startup Summit was at full capacity with 125 attendees and 150 people watching the live stream of provocations, lightening talks and panels. Ethics, trust, transparency and data – the topics at the centre of DataIQ Align - were the subject of a lightening talk and a panel. In addition, Northernlands held lightening talks on the future of data engineering, on open contracting partnerships and procurement data, and on the future of health data.
A highlight for Connell, in addition to having 15 happy sponsors, was hearing about Radically Open Security, a non-profit computer security consultancy. “It looks after the internet in the Netherlands and there are really interesting projects. It is a world-class security team which is pretty amazing,” he said.
There was also a data demonstration from Bradford Council which gave an example of how they employ simple but straight forward data flows using PowerBI. Connell said: “That saved them a significant amount of time which means they are not messing with spreadsheets all the time. Their IT department has helped their Adult Social Care teams understand how PowerBI works and they update the reports and freed themselves up to deal with real problems, rather than management reports and spreadsheets.”
The agenda also included visual artist Akeelah Bertram and poet Mr Gee. What did Connell feel they would bring to a data conference? He said: “They have both got special talents but they are both working in that sphere so they are able to bring a different perspective. They brought the real challenges, that we all know, to life. We are people, we’re not just all engineers or scientists.” He went on to say that because art and science are so linked, it brings diversity to any innovation that is being done. “If you are doing innovation, the more perspectives and the more ideas you have, the better.”
I wondered how this data and start-up summit in connection with our European neighbour came about. Connell explained that ODI Leeds met with the Kingdom of Netherlands Embassy in the UK during its tour of Northern UK cities. “They came to us and asked what we can do together. We made a few suggestions and that’s where Northernlands came about – to strengthen and build relationships between the economies of the North of England and the Netherlands around data and entrepreneurship and start-ups.”
Going forward, ODI Leeds has been invited to work with Radically Open Security in the future and there is probably going to be a return event in the Netherlands next year. These prospective events are impressive considering that two years ago ODI Leeds was hosting “Algo-Raves” and is now hosting the Dutch Embassy.
Connell wants attendees and viewers of the event to move forward while being more “radically open.” He said: “If you are radically open, you can create a massive surplus around your data, and that surplus can be monetary, it can be cultural capital, civic capital, or social capital. If you want to make a massive difference you need to be radically open.”