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Reflecting on the 3rd S-Direct Seminar 2018

The third S- Direct Seminar took place at the University of the Western Cape on Wednesday 7 March 2018. The theme of the 3rd S-DIRECT Seminar was “The Data-Driven Economy: Implications for Developing Societies, Cities and Citizens”.

From left to right: 3rd S-Direct Seminar 2018 Keynote Speakers

Arthur Wade Anderson, Dr Leona Craffert, prof Leo van Audenhove, Wouter Grove, Wouter Gevaert, Olivia Dyers, Dr Ilse Marien, Dr Johan Breytenbach

The S-DIRECT seminar is an initiative of the International Joint Research Group (IJRG) combining the expertise of imec-Smit (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), University of Gent, University of the Western Cape (UWC) and its extended partnership. The seminar is aimed at sharing methodologies, experiences and learning on how social digital innovation and skills development interventions can stimulate social and digital inclusion in disadvantaged communities.

The interactive and engaging seminar was well attended by high-level key role players within the South African National Government, Provincial Governments and Local Governments, as well as digital inclusion intermediaries, business leaders and academics.

Larry Pokpas, Institutional Planner welcomed attendees on behalf of the Rector, Prof Tyrone Pretorius. Thereafter the Director of the Western Cape CoLab, Dr Leona Craffert Contextualised the S-Direct applied research collaboration. Prof Leo van Leo van Audenhove, (imec – SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel) delivered a keynote entitled “Data Literacy - life skill for the data driven economy?” and thereafter Dr Ilse Marien (imec – SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel) discussed challenges and solutions in data literacy & data-driven societies based on her experiences in both the European and South African contexts.

Against the background of the current rapid global growth of Artificial Intelligence projects, Wouter Gevaert, (New Media and Communication Technologies, Howest (Belgium) delivered an engaging view into the current and future realities of artificial intelligence applications.

Within the context of the Smart Cities discourse in South Africa, Dr Johan Breytenbach (UWC) and Wouter Grove (UWC) discussed design-led approaches to making communities smarter using data. A final highlight of the day was an inspiring look at innovative approaches to using data for determining the socio-economic impact of community interventions. This keynote was delivered by Arthur Wade Anderson (AFRICASGOTGAME), founding member of a rapidly expanding social enterprise with an international footprint.

The important question grappled with at this seminar was “What are the questions that we as researchers and practitioners should focus on to unlock the value of the data-driven economy?

In order to engage in depth with this issue, an interactive panel discussion was chaired by Prof Kobus Visser (Office of the DVC: Academic, UWC). Panelists were Prof Leo van Audenhove, imec – SMIT, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; Wouter Gevaert, Howest, Belgium; Olivia Dyers, Director: Digital Leadership, DEDAT (WCG), Dr Mmaki Jantjies, HoD: Department of Information Systems, UWC.

For more info and copies of the presentations see:

Video interview with Prof Leo van Audenhove:

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