The Data City on Tour

In my last blog post I introduced The Data City and what we’re building at the moment. Here I introduce our international strategy and what we’re doing later this year and in early 2018.

Because The Data City doesn’t rely heavily on formal national statistics we are able to expand to new countries easily. Language and subtle differences in economic structure are the only large barriers.

We know this because we’ve tested it. We already have large parts of The Data City working in Ireland and Scotland where national statistics are different to those in England & Wales. Our method is mostly unaffected. We can today provide comparable assessments of industrial strengths and potential for innovation in small niches of technology in Dublin, Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Leeds.

In December we are expanding to France. We’ll be starting in Leeds’ twin city of Lille, producing a version of The Data City for the Lille City Region. At the same time we’ll be updating our version of The Data City for Leeds so that both tools can be presented to both cities at the same time.

We’ve chosen France for three big reasons,

  1. France’s cities and national government have embraced open data, so we can easily access everything we need to expand our tool. We can publish our results easily too, on great data portals run by our friends at OpenDataSoft.
  2. French Cities have strong regional governments and business groups, both of which have the power and money to invest in innovation.
  3. Paris is one of the world’s leading cities for artificial intelligence. Places like Station F host both start-ups and big companies like Microsoft.

It also helps that France is so close, that we speak French, and that Lille is so close to Belgium and The Netherlands.

We’ve already done a lot. Our early work has been featured by étalab , the French government’s digital services team. Our workflow for analysing scientific papers worked without change, since most papers today are published in English. And we’ve already shared a lot of the additional methods we’ve developed to use French datasets and compare them with English & Welsh ones.

Our work on IoT UK Nation provides a fantastic basis on which to compare the UK and France. Famously, France is strong in The of Internet of Things , with nearly a third of exhibitors at this year’s CES in Las Vegas hailing from the hexagon. Our initial work suggests that this excellence is widely spread and often deeply linked with local industries.

In Rennes, IoT businesses are linked with Orange and Télécom Bretagne, a leading university and research institute. In Toulouse, IoT businesses are linked to Airbus and Ariane, world-leading aviation and airspace companies.

What we see in France is similar to what we’ve found in the UK. One example is The West Midlands, where the automotive industry plays host to world-leading companies in IoT that slip beneath the radar of many policy experts and investors.

IoT businesses in Toulouse. We are building the same, but better, for Lille.

We still have lots of work to do in France. For a start all our machine-learning needs translating. Internet of Things is probably Objets Connectés but we need to teach a machine that, and we’ll need French tech people to help us.

If you’re in Lille, or if you can come to Lille, and you can help, please come and see us in December at EuraTechnologies and take us to a nice Flanders bar afterwards, the first drink’s on me.

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