On Thursday 20th June Select, together with the Exeter Initiative for Statistics and its Applications (ExIStA), hosted Talking Data South West, the region’s first conference aimed at showcasing all of the different data-related activities being undertaken within the South West. There was a fantastic response with over 100 delegates representing more than 50 organisations from around the region. The day consisted of a dozen presentations including our three keynote speakers, poster presentations as well as plenty of time to network.
Our first keynote speaker, Markus Gesmann from Lloyds of London, described what tools he uses to communicate to his colleagues ideas from his data analysis in order to initiate change and, most importantly, how to make playing with data fun! Alan Smith, Head of the Data Visualisation Unit at the Office for National Statistics explained how his team visualise data from the ONS. Whilst Alan pointed out that statistics.gov.uk may not look like an exciting URL, he went on to demonstrate how his fantastic visualisations could really engage the public and help them understand their implications – the Census visualisations being a great example. Finally, David Arnold, Senior Statistician at Unilever discussed the importance of multivariate statistics in order to understand consumer preferences in order to ensure the long term success of Unilever brands.
In addition to our keynote speakers, we had a number of presentations from local organisations including Landmark Information Group, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Mango Solutions and the University of Exeter. The variety of topics covered was fantastic including the use of smart phones in improving agronomic decision making, visualising league tables, the growing use of R by commercial companies and using genetic data to identify causes of disease to name just a few.
The day was a great success, which was emphasised by the real-time feedback questionnaire collected and analysed by Paul Howarth from Akumen during the conference. The questionnaire indicated that as a result of the day delegates had gained new tools and techniques to analyse and visualise data and had particularly enjoyed the diversity of talks, which they found to be both inspiring and motivating. Steve Brooks, Director of both Select and ExIStA said “Talking Data South West has been a real success. It has provided a great opportunity for attendees to develop new skills and share expertise as well as the chance to meet with other regional organisations working with data.”