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Edinburgh puts data creativity in the spotlight

EuroCities conference, Edinburgh 2018. Photo by Sandy Young

The potential of data within Scotland’s creative industries has been showcased to mayors and civic leaders from across Europe at an event in Edinburgh.

The flagship Eurocities conference took place in the capital on 28-30 November, exploring the role of culture and innovation through the theme of creative, competitive cities.

Event partners, the University of Edinburgh teamed up with hosts, City of Edinburgh Council to hire Edinburgh-based agency Ray Interactive to create interactive installations for the Eurocities opening gala using state-of-the-art data visualisation.

The University of Edinburgh is leading the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation initiative, to help citizens and organisations capitalise on the emerging data economy.

Brendan McCarthy, Director of Ray Interactive, explained how the interactive displays reflected the conference’s theme: “Our installations require group collaboration to reach full potential. They’re fun and engaging, built to highlight the need for co-ordinated effort while acting as a social ice-breaker for the attendees.

“Data visualisation has progressed greatly as non-scientists become more familiar with it. Nowadays, many of us are comfortable roaming the virtual space via apps, news graphics and games. For the first time, the holy grail of data visualisation is within sight: to be simultaneously elegant, accurate and understandable.”

Jarmo Eskelinen, Director of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative, said: “Edinburgh punches way above its weight when it comes to data capabilities. The data-driven innovation initiative taps into this, with the goal to establish Edinburgh as the data capital of Europe.

“Being a data capital does not mean competing with other cities. Data is the new soil and collaboration is the seeds. We will do data right, working with top researchers, companies and cities around the world to develop fair ways to utilise data, respecting privacy, developing cyber security and building business models which benefit all.”

Eurocities is the annual conference that brings together the local governments of over 140 of Europe’s largest cities and over 45 partner cities.

Through discussion forums, working groups, study visits and events, delegates will have an opportunity to share knowledge and exchanging ideas for the economic, political and social development of cities.