Unlocking the Potential of Data: Insights from the Data Innovation Showcase


10th October 2023

Topic Events
Technology AI
Sector Events

Sunderland Smart City’s Mo Chowdhury recently presented at The National Innovation Centre for Data’s Data Innovation Showcase, a dynamic two-day conference at The Catalyst that delved into innovation, data’s transformative potential, and its broad-reaching impact.

Data drives decision-making across all industries – and underpins our smart city activity in Sunderland. The Data Innovation Showcase shone a light on the immense potential of data, exploring its impact across various sectors, by bringing together experts and innovators to explore trends in data science. With a focus on data innovation in the public and private sectors, analytics, machine learning, and AI; the event underlined the significance of data in fostering innovation and shaping a brighter future.

The keynote session, delivered by the BBC’s Bill Thompson, explored journalism’s evolution through big data and AI, with a focus on the changing role of technology at organizations like the BBC. It touched on ‘New Journalism’ in the 1960s, discussed AI’s impact, and questioned its transformative potential, exploring limitations such as errors and biases. The talk concluded by contemplating AI’s potential for journalism, pending the resolution of these limitations.


The event followed two tracks: Data Mastery, and the Art of Innovation. Sunderland City Council’s Smart City Project Manager Mo Chowdhury presented as part of the Art of Innovation track at the event, delivering a session showcasing Sunderland City Council’s ambition and unique 20-year partnership with Boldyn Networks to create the UK’s smartest city. Mo highlighted the city’s vision for inclusive services, education opportunities, and economic prosperity through responsible innovation. This commitment to responsible innovation reflects the broader theme of the conference, emphasising harnessing data for positive change.

At the conference, various topics were explored, exploring the role of data innovation in both the public and private sectors. Discussions at the conference ranged from predictive modelling for healthcare capacity planning, to data modelling for offshore windfarm energy storage – illuminating the wide-ranging potential of data-driven decision-making in industry.

Throughout the two-day event, diverse perspectives, sentiments, and questions were raised: here are some of the highlights.

Democratisation of data: Data is no longer limited to data science graduates. Professionals from diverse fields, like marine biology or chemistry, are diving into data science, making it accessible to a broader range of backgrounds.

Artificial intelligence and job security: Generative AI won’t replace jobs but will empower creative professionals by handling routine tasks, fostering efficiency rather than job loss.

Cultivating data sharing: A cultural shift is necessary for successful data sharing, especially in the public sector. A lack of sharing culture hinders innovation, emphasizing the need for breaking down silos.

Power in partnership: Collaboration is the cornerstone of data innovation. Companies working with partners have a higher likelihood to succeed in data innovation, as they spread risks and amplify rewards through joint efforts.

Leadership in innovation: Early adopters set the pace, and are followed by mass adopters. Effective leaders embrace risk to foster innovation. Staying connected with innovators and like-minded companies mutually benefits all involved, by spreading risks but rewarding everyone involved.

Artificial intelligence governance: Discussions were also raised around AI Projects needing a different governance from traditional IT governance: for instance, the NHS has developed a new governance model tailored specifically for AI transformation projects, underlining the importance of adapting to the unique challenges posed by AI.


As we reflect on the insights and knowledge gained from the National Innovation Centre for Data’s Data Innovation conference, we invite you to learn more about our innovation and data work. Explore our website’s innovation challenges, insights and case studies to learn more about how we’re using data to create a positive impact for residents and businesses across Sunderland.