With data comes responsibility – Irish Data Forum, Panel 2 (videos)

25 Nov 2013

(From left) Ann O'Dea, CEO, Siliconrepublic.com; Stephen Moffatt, IBM; Dr Tracey Lauriault, NUI Maynooth; and Andrew Maybin, Tibus. Photo by Conor McCabe Photography

The ability to access and analyse data is revolutionising many aspects of life today. At the Irish Data Forum in Dublin on Friday, we heard how the data revolution is transforming everything from sports to healthcare and government.

Phil Townsend, director of communications for Manchester United, said the world-renowned football team has a burgeoning data science department that is analysing data and throwing up startling findings.

“We look closely at player health and can we start to predict players’ injuries should they train today.”

Stephen Moffatt, cloud computing and business analytics leader at IBM, said the technology giant is working with University College Cork to analyse blood results from children to identify the likelihood of infections.

“In fact, football players today wear sensor packs on their jerseys that sends data back to give insights. Results can go down if a player is injured,” Moffatt said.

Dr Tracey Lauriault from NIRSA at NUI Maynooth highlighted Canada’s approach to open data and how chief medical officers there are mapping cities to understand the health of their cities.

She pointed to work to create a similar health atlas for Ireland. “Combining different types of data and charts we are able to provide the potential for decision-makers to make informed decisions on where to locate hospitals, services and planning.”

With data comes responsibility, said Andrew Maybin, managing director of Tibus, who reminded everyone that ultimately public trust must be respected as firms chase data for competitive advantage. This is especially true when it comes to social media and digital advertising.

“This presents us as an industry with a problem,” he said, adding that losing the trust of consumers should not be allowed to happen.

He said firms need to be clear on what kind of a deal they are cutting with consumers – if they are getting free email and storage then the internet giants in turn need to be clear about their activities in terms of advertising and gathering data.

“If that’s the grand bargain, be open, but only so long as people understand what’s going to be done with their data.”

Highlights of the second panel discussion at the Irish Data Forum:

Part 1:

Part 2:

More on the Irish Data Forum:

Making Ireland the best place to do data – Irish Data Forum, Panel 1 (videos)

Man United comms director: ‘Football will get bigger as the planet gets smaller’ (videos)

Data tsunami – firms need to weigh risks and rewards, Gartner analyst says (videos)

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years