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Northernlands 2 - summary and what happens next

Northerlands 2 took place on 6th and 7th July 2020

Northernlands 2 had always been an event waiting in the wings, ever since we wrapped up on the first Northernlands event in May 2019. Our sponsors and collaborators at the Embassy for the Kingdom of the Netherlands were extremely happy with the event, at the turnout, the response, and more. We had brought together some fine people from both the UK and the Netherlands in a neutral setting to celebrate great things and the sharing of different and startling perspectives.

Recapturing that energy and atmosphere was important for a second event, and of course the coronavirus pandemic offered very specific challenges. Despite hosting and live-streaming events for years, this would be the first time that we attempted to design and deliver everything digitally. This meant thinking about what could (and should) be done 'live' and what we could pre-record.

We want to thank all of the speakers for their time - we asked a lot of them when we asked them to pre-record a video, but everyone rose to the challenge with gusto and delivered some amazing talks. We want to thank the acting Ambassador for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Brechje Schwachfer, and the team at the Embassy for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, who trusted and supported us to create and deliver another stellar event. And of course we want to thank our sponsors, who support our ongoing data projects and help drive our mission-led work.

Mr Gee, the broadcaster and poet and regular artist in residence at the Open Data Institute, kicked off every session with a fantastic reading of the poem he composed at the first Northernlands event.

Open Data Saves Lives - 6th July

The Open Data Saves Lives session - named for our #OpenDataSavesLives work that launched at the start of 2020 and had been ramped up since the coronavirus outbreak - brought together some exceptional people from equally exceptional organisations, including the Health Foundation, the Open Data Institute, CODATA, and Core Life Analytics.

From the deliciously niche but insightful talks about safe sharing of data to the open and thorough debate about the need for data standards (especially during a crisis), each talk was delivered with passion and relevance to the current global climate. Remember, there are big and complex issues that rumble on alongside the pandemic, so thinking about how open data, and by association open innovation and radical collaboration, can positively impact people's lives is important right now.

Ben Goldacre spoke about his latest project Open Safely, which was ground-breaking in its ambitions and delivery of an analytics platform built on extremely sensitive data. Emma Vestesson from the Health Foundation spoke about their recent work and focus on data analytics as a way to drive healthcare and wellbeing decisions. They want to be as open as possible and see the benefits to sharing. (Thumbs up from us!) Professor Barend Mons from CODATA and Go Fair delivered a passionate debate about the difference between open data and FAIR data, when FAIR data could be available in situations where open data can not. Jeni Tenison from the Open Data Institute shared her personal interest and love for data standards. (Yes we said love.) Her talk featured real-world experiences and examples from the NHS and from Track Together during the coronavirus outbreak. David Egan from Core Life Analytics took us on a fantastic voyage into the cell profiling, specifically the wealth of data that can be extracted from cell profiling and how he used the R language to create analysis tools for scientists.

Responsible Data Collaboration - 6th July

Data collaboration will always be important, but it is absolutely vital now. As more people are becoming aware of their data rights (and more conscious of the misuse of data committed in their name) they are rightly in a position to demand privacy and security in their lives. How do they and we ensure that data is used responsibly and that it represents the needs and desires of a community? Leigh Dodds from the Open Data Institute carefully explored data collaboration through the lens of collective data gathering and maintenance, and collaborative data publishing. Sander van der Waal from the Future Internet Lab as part of Waag shared his experiences of building trust in the day-to-day tech that citizens come to rely on by focusing on the public values. Stian Westlake from the Royal Statistical Society shared the three elements of what a 'data moon shot' could be - those startlingly ambitious projects that don't necessarily have an immediate benefit to investors but should be done all the same.

Mobility in Modern Cities - 7th July

Exploring the concept of mobility in modern cities was approached from two angles - what makes a city modern and prepared for future developments; and what mobility might look like in cities, especially as greener modes of transport have become more popular in pandemic recovery. As we start to leave lockdown and productively think about the 'new normal,' Catriona Swanson from Arup shared her knowledge of low traffic neighbourhoods and how they can play their part in encouraging more people to take up sustainable travel options. Jack Hardinges from the Open Data Institute presented two sides to the question of whether private sector organisations were sharing enough data to enable innovation in cities. Mieke Masselink from the Smart Mobility Embassy described the conflicting desires of people in cities - they want clean air, more green space but also demand fast deliveries and want to travel whenever/wherever they want. There is potential to smooth out these conflicts but it will take some ingenuity. The amazing team behind recent advances in bus open data at the Department for Transport shared their experiences from a perspective of legislation, technology, and practicality. Lily Dart from FutureGov and Giuseppe Sallazzo from the Department for Transport took part in an open discussion about data skills, decision-making in transport...and more data buses.

Social Interaction in a Distanced World - 7th July

Northernlands 2 was designed to be positive even during bleak times, and whilst we had a specific aim not to focus too much on the pandemic, we would be remiss to exclude one of the biggest changes to human behaviour seen in decades. Social interactions could change forever under the looming dark clouds of another pandemic, one that is more virulent and deadly. How do we combat the associated challenges with having to reduce our social contact? Was it time to rethink how much we rely on physical presence? Tom Bridges from Arup delivered a passionate explanation of why cities will survive this pandemic, and could even come back in a new way, contributing to concepts of a 'new normal.' In a world of fatigue-inducing video calls, could VR hold the key to better meetings? Tim van Deursen of Hack the Planet thought so, and demonstrated other profound and meaningful uses of VR. Matt Clancy fought squarely in the corner for remote working and why it had previously struggled to be adopted (and why that won't be the case forever). Laura McInerney, founder of Teacher Tapp, and Amber Walraven, who is overseeing the roll-out of Teacher Tapp in the Netherlands, answered some probing questions from Tom Forth about the app, which gathers feedback from thousands of teachers every day.

Everything can be found on the Northernlands 2 website, where each video has a dedicated page and transcript. You can also visit our YouTube channel to watch a replay of each day in full (technical glitches included!).

So where do we go from here? Well, we must include a slightly cheeky plug to join our mailing list because this will be the best way that you can find out about all upcoming events and projects. Including Northernlands 3, which is already a twinkle in someone's eye.

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