"Let's talk about Data"

“Digital technologies have changed our world perhaps most significantly in how we think about data”

- David Rogers (2016, p.4)

On the 22nd of August the CoLab hosted a Roundtable Discussion on the concept of DATA. Data is one of the key drivers of digital transformation and innovation, but it is a complex and multi-dimensional concept with differing perspectives often adding to the complexity of unlocking its value.

Participants in the Discussion included a delegation from Belgium

  • Prof Leo van Audenhove (VUB/imec-SMIT) who presented on Data and Media Literacy

  • Prof Wendy van den Broeck (VUB/imec-SMIT) who presented on the DataBuzz project

  • Dr Ilse Marien (VUB/imec-SMIT) who presented on various open data and digital inclusion programs they are involved in various cities in Flanders, Belgium.

  • Prof Lieven De Marez (UGENT/imec-MICT) who presented on their tools and methods of measuring aspects of digital inclusion and innovation (including the imec.digimeter and MobileDNA projects)

South African Panel members included

Various critical questions surfaced during the course of the deliberations and active participation from the floor ensured a variety of perspectives. Issues deliberated included:

  • The various interfaces (nature of relationships) between between government, business, civil society and academia

  • What conversation should become visible in the public domain?

  • How do we need to think (act) about data as academic/research institutions and as government; what about the research focus?

  • Skilling - requirements, challenges and collaboration

Attendees also included various units of the PGWC Training Institute, DEDAT, CoCT, Academia from various universities and post-graduates students.

On a very pragmatic level, the current national and provincial discourse requires of the CoLab partnership to give input into the thinking-process of senior government officials around data. Although the session, as a kick-off conversation, was necessarily broad we reached our mutual goal of sensitisation in terms of nuancing potential pitfalls, opportunities and challenges in view of phrasing guiding principles for facilitating a responsible, fair, ethical and inclusive approach.

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