"Detect the Expected & Discover the Unexpected"

Big Data Congress - Halifax, NS

Monday, October 19th

This past Monday, James Lockhart and myself, Sara Taaffe, attended the Big Data Congress in Halifax, NS. Not only did we leave feeling inspired, we also were able to gain a wealth of knowledge to apply to our work at HotSpot. James and I wanted to take a moment to talk about the lessons learned and highlights from the congress, and how we can apply them to our work at HotSpot.

One highlight was hearing how data solved the problem of bird strikes to engines, saving Boeing $615+ million annually. The keynote, provided by David Kasik, one of Boeings Senior Tech Fellows, had no shortage of informative yet inspiring thoughts to share.

What resonated with James was that Boeing, a 100-year-old company continues to remain so competitive today. This is due to their ability to use data to make decisions. Big data creates relevancy, helping keep companies, like Boeing, competitive by reducing uninformed decisions and accelerating decision-making speed with actual statistics and quantifiable data, not just a gut feeling or shooting in the dark. David Kasik stated, "it is easy to know the solution, not the problem. KNOW the problem." It is this ability to collect and communicate data that will enable Boeing to stay competitive for another 100 years.

Afterwards, I attended the Digital Marketing Panel, composed of three marketing experts from the eastern seaboard of North America. One of the greatest highlights I took from this was understanding that marketing must have an ROI, and to make that happen, data needs to be in the equation. Essentially, marketers must be creating content that is backed by science yet is still personalized, relevant, and in real-time.

For the remainder of the afternoon, participants had the choice of attending various breakout sessions. I chose to go to Smart Cities while James attended the Internet of Things.

In the first Smart Cities session, Jay McGloin and Paul Lewis of Hitachi Social Innovation spoke to the importance of big data in creating a safer and healthier society. As a newbie to the tech scene, I was very inspired to see the power of data in solving social and environmental problems. In moving forward with HotSpot, I see great opportunity in leveraging the data collection and analytic capabilities of our start-up in helping build smarter and stronger cities.


This inspiration was only surmounted by the presentation from Paul Beach of Sault Ste. Marie's Innovation Centre. This incredible center has taken all of the city infrastructure and social statistics, and configured it into 3-D models and heat maps. Not only does this allow city planners to better understand the city, it plays an imperative role in solving problems, notifying citizens of emergencies (ie. sewage backup, water shortage) and financial distribution for city infrastructure development. By collaborating with both public and private sector, the SSMIC is taking leaps and bounds in making Sault Ste. Marie one of Canada's Smartest Cities.

As a lover of tech, James learned a great deal from the Internet of Things sessions. It was commonly discussed that we need to stop wasting data, because data IS money. Data has the power to increase efficiency, create new business models, reduce costs, and address dynamic business needs. By analyzing data, we can predict failures before they happen for things like network failures, bank fraud, poor road conditions and backed up transit systems, reducing wasted energy, money, and time.

Innovation of Things + Big Data + Analytics = cash

There is nearly $400 billion in the private market and $14.6 trillion in the public market for data in Canada. This is a huge market that is only growing as technology continues to advance. What was interesting to hear was the onus to giver users the knowledge and power instead of the IT companies. Because 80% of data is unstructured, we need to have more minds exploring how this data can best be leveraged.

So what does all this mean for HotSpot?
  1. More marketing backed by data, demonstrating an ROI.
  2. Data collection and analysis centered around building smarter cities.
  3. A better understanding of the importance of data in relevency and longevity.
  4. There is a great deal of financial gain available for useful big data analystics.