Tag Archives: unlocking big data 2015

‘Unlocking Big Data’ in Review

Photo of attendees talking at the Met Office during the Big Data event
Attendees meeting during a break between talks. © Torben Sommer

More than 80 people turned out for our Unlocking Big Data event at the Met Office on the 28th of January. The event brought in speakers who are experts in various facets of the Big Data phenomenon to share their insights, and to encourage discussion on what Big Data is, and how it can translate into business and employment opportunities for people in our community.

Big Data speakers posing together at the Met Office during the Big Data event
Our speakers pose for a photo at the Met Office during the event. © Torben Sommer

Attendees came from a wide variety of backgrounds—from students considering what a career in Big Data might entail, to local employers learning how Big Data can benefit their businesses, to seasoned data scientists looking to share their knowledge and experience with others. But hopefully everyone came away knowing more about Big Data, and having some idea what opportunities it can bring to the Greater Exeter area.

While our speakers’ talks served to educate and lend focus, they weren’t the only ones talking: Time was set aside throughout the day for attendees to meet and discuss the points our speakers raised, and ask and answer questions about Big Data amongst each other.

In addition to the discussion happening in the room, attendees also shared their thoughts on Twitter, using the #UnlockingBigData hashtag, and on a private comments submission system reserved exclusively for the event.

Big Data attendees grouped together having discussions and posting online messages via their wireless devices
Attendees conversing together, and sharing their thoughts virtually. © Lauren Trew
#UnlockingBigData screen shot
A small sample of the lively discussion had on the #UnlockingBigData Twitter feed

Some thoughts and comments from ‘Unlocking Big Data’ attendees:

“Great talks throughout the day! In general, I think more work needs to be done in educating everyone in the use of big data. It could have so many benefits to many companies but needs to be approached correctly.”

“…thoroughly engaging and designed to meet a broad audience base.”

“Having a culture that rewards and acknowledges innovation helps, allow people to experiment, and even to fail, to foster innovation.”

Did you attend ‘Unlocking Big Data’? Would you like to see another event like it in the future? Please feel free to leave comments below!


Getting to the ‘Unlocking Big Data’ Event

Wednesday’s ‘Unlocking Big Data’ event is being held at the Met Office in Exeter. Please remember to bring a picture ID with you, as you will need this for registration. Registration will be on the 2nd floor balcony, where you will collect your badge and be given instructions for accessing the guest wi-fi.

The Met Office is easily reachable from a number of different routes; please see below for directions. We encourage attendees to use public transport if possible, as visitor parking will be limited.

(Directions provided by the Met Office)

By walking or cycling

Pedestrian/cycle links with safe crossing facilities have been provided from the Met Office site to Honiton Road and Hill Barton Road (adjacent to the site), and to Honiton Road Park and Ride.

Typical walking times and distances from the Met Office site are:

• to Honiton Road Park and Ride: 10 minutes (700 m)
• to Pinhoe Station: 20-25 minutes (1.5 km)
• to Digby and Sowton Station: 25 minutes (2 km)

By rail

Frequent direct services operate to Paddington and Waterloo stations in London to Exeter St Davids and Exeter Central. A typical journey from London to Exeter takes around 2 hours 15 minutes, and from the Midlands around 2 hours 30 minutes. See By Bus section for bus connections from these train stations.

The stations closest to the Met Office site are Pinhoe station to the north and Digby and Sowton station to the south. Note: these stations are not serviced as frequently as Exeter St Davids.

Pinhoe can be reached from London Waterloo from the east or Exeter St Davids from the west and south. It is possible to travel direct to Digby and Sowton without changing trains from stations on the Paignton line.

By bus and coach

From Exeter city centre

The Park and Ride service (PR2/M2) provides a regular, quick route from Exeter city centre every 12 minutes, and stops at the Honiton Road Park and Ride stop, from which it is a 10-minute walk to the Met Office. This service departs from Paris Street (stop 17), or Sidwell Street (stop 19). Journey time approximately 20 minutes.

Service B operates every half hour and passes Pinhoe railway station. On the journey from the city centre you need to alight at Honiton Road Park and Ride stop, from which it is a 10-minute walk to the Met Office. However, on the return journey the service passes through the Met Office site. This service departs from the High Street (stop 3) and Sidwell Street (stop 19). Journey time approximately 26 minutes.

Service 56 operates approximately hourly from the bus station in Paris Street. Journey time approximately 26 minutes.

From Exeter St Davids railway station

The 56 operates approximately hourly and passes through the Met Office site, and continues on to Exeter Airport. Journey time approximately 26 minutes.

By road

From the north, south, and west

Leave at junction 29 of the M5 motorway.
Turn right at the end of the motorway slip road and go straight across the first roundabout.
Take the second turning on the right into FitzRoy Road.
Follow the road around the Met Office building.

From the east

Follow the A30 under the M5.
Go straight across the first roundabout.
Take the second turning on the right into FitzRoy Road.
Follow the road around the Met Office building.

If you are driving, please proceed to the West Car Park, where spaces have been reserved for event attendees. Signs will direct you to the Visitors main entrance.

For further directions or to view a map, please see this guide provided by the Met Office.

Participation at ‘Unlocking Big Data’

At a typical conference, speakers do all the talking, while attendees simply sit and listen. But at ‘Unlocking Big Data’, we envision attendee participation in discussions taking a central role in the day’s events. A significant component of attendee participation will rely on the Internet: We have set up a private website where delegates will be able to log in and submit comments on the event—the topics discussed, the speakers, and their experience of the event itself. At several points over the course of the day, we will be running real-time analyses on these comments, and reporting those findings to the group. These comments will be anonymous; no personal data will be attached to them. But feedback from our delegates is an important part of the day, so please remember to bring your wireless-enabled devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. When you arrive at the Met Office, you will be given instructions for accessing their guest wi-fi, as well as our website.

Additionally, we encourage attendees to use Twitter to communicate their thoughts and ideas about the event, as well as to engage with other attendees and the larger Big Data community. You can use the hashtag #UnlockingBigData to discuss the event, as well as to continue the discussion afterward. You can follow us on Twitter at @ExeterSkills. If you don’t have a Twitter account, we encourage you to get one! It’s easy to get started, and it will further your ability to engage with other participants at ‘Unlocking Big Data’, as well as with the larger Big Data community.

Meet the Speakers for ‘Unlocking Big Data’

Technology Editor, The Guardian

Charles Arthur has been in technology journalism for over 30 years. Most recently he was technology editor at The Guardian for nine years, writing about Apple, Google and Microsoft as well as other topics including Wikileaks and the Snowden documents. Previously he was at The Independent and New Scientist. He has written a book,
Digital Wars, about the business battles and history between Apple, Google and Microsoft. It is now in its second edition. He is married to Jojo Moyes – international best-selling author.

Topic: Big Data Revolution: the Big Picture

Chief Executive – Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership

Chris Garcia was appointed as the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership’s Chief Executive in June 2013. Chris has a background in both public and private sector leadership roles and an in-depth knowledge of building economic development partnerships working with the public, private, education and voluntary sectors. One of Chris’s first early senior roles was as a partner at KPMG, focusing on the private sector in the South West. He later ran his own successful family business, providing new technology and knowledge sharing support to both government departments and major technology firms. Previously Chris also worked as the Director of Enterprise and Skills at the South West Regional Development Agency and for the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS). His senior management experience has included 13 years as a non-executive director of a significant charity – a leader in the field of developing people and management. Alongside this role Chris worked closely with voluntary organisations, establishing the Western Development Partnership, a major economic development partnership for the West of England. Chris is passionate about living in the South West and wants to ensure that Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay are equipped to work and succeed in a global economy, by driving economic growth and boosting jobs throughout the area.

Topic: The Heart of the South West Big Data: Current and Future

Chief Information Officer, Intelligence Optimisations Technologies Group

Alex is the Co-Founder of Intelligent Optimisations (IO) and is the company’s CIO. He is the lead architect of the IO platform, where he exploits his in-depth knowledge of and passion for computer science, big data and machine learning technologies. In addition to several startups Alex has utilised his technical knowledge and business acumen successfully in a range of senior management positions, in public and private sector companies, as CTO, COO, and most notably as the Enterprise Architect and ultimately IT Fellow within the Met Office. Alex is hugely passionate about exploiting software and systems with elegance and performance through enterprise architecture and software design, fusing technologies in new and creative ways.

Topic: Building the Reality of a Big Data Team

Managing Director, Pivigo

Dr Kim Nilsson is a Swedish national and PhD in Astrophysics from Copenhagen University, Denmark. After working four years as a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and later as Hubble Astronomer in the European division of the Hubble Space Telescope she decided she was ready for a career change and
came to the UK to complete an MBA at Cranfield School of Management. It was during the MBA that the initial plans for Pivigo were formed, together with her co-founder. After a short time in risk management consulting, post-MBA, she co-founded Pivigo recruitment and Pivigo academy, two London-based start-ups in the recruitment and training sector. As MD of Pivigo Academy, she is also the lead organiser of Europe’s first and largest PhD-to-Data Science programme S2DS (Science to Data Science, http://www.s2ds.org), which ran its initial programme this summer. The launch programme saw 85 analytical PhDs working on commercial data science projects with the 22 commercial partners on the programme in mini-internships. She is passionate about supporting the career transitions of academics into commercial industry, and supporting the revolution to our way of life that data science promises to bring.

Topic: Investing in Human Data Capital

Director of Information and Chief Information Officer, the Met Office

Charles is responsible for the development and implementation of the ICT Strategy and for the internal technical teams within the Technology Information Services Directorate, working closely with the Science teams to operate the High Performance Computing capability. The Met Office relies heavily upon cutting-edge IT to improve the quality of forecast services and increasingly to make those services accessible and effective for customers and the Public. Charles has worked for the Met Office in a number of senior technology roles since 2008 and, prior to that, worked in the Business-to-Business online retail and distribution industry. During this time he used relevant technologies to transform businesses from traditional retail approaches to being internet and technology capable. As well as a number of consulting appointments, Charles worked within the Premier Farnell group of companies for over 10 years. He has run his own small technology company and started his career as an Electronics Engineer in the defence industry.

Topic: Big Data: Maximising the Collaboration Effect

Introducing ‘Unlocking Big Data’

On 28 January the Met Office will be hosting an event produced by the Exeter and Heart of Devon Employment and Skills Board entitled “Unlocking Big Data: Investing in Human Capital”. The goal of this event is to explore the explosion of Big Data, focusing particularly on how this new and rapidly expanding field can be translated into new education and career opportunities for people in the Exeter and Greater Devon area.

Our all-day event will feature five guest speakers coming from widely varied backgrounds, all leading authorities in various aspects of the Big Data revolution.

Unlike the typical conference-style event, attendees at Unlocking Big Data will be encouraged to participate actively in the day: In addition to having time set aside for break-out discussions between speakers’ presentations, attendees also will be encouraged to make use of a dedicated online network for submitting anonymous comments and reflections on the topics being explored, and on the event itself. Likewise, we will also encourage all attendees who have a Twitter account to make ample use of it; please feel free to submit comments regarding the event using the hashtag #UnlockingBigData — and remember to follow our Twitter feed, @ExeterSkills.