Get Into the business of Data

More courses coming up at new T4G Training Centre

T4G’s Cathy Simpson is a part of a growing movement trying to position Saint John and New Brunswick as the next domain for all things data.

“We created an innovation mindset here, years ago. We need to build on top of that and data is one of those jumping off points,” says Simpson.

The hope is the tech services company’s new Data Analytics Training Centre will be part of that jumping off point.  T4G held its first course this past December on data visualization. Simpson says the course showed people how to take more complex algorithms, facts and figures and boil them down into easy to understand visuals, like infographics.  This, along with many other data analytics skills are going to be in high demand as companies increasingly make data-driven decisions

 “Ultimately, you need to be able to do something with the data, so people understand it. That’s data visualization. That’s all about story telling by using data to drive storytelling.”

Bill Cunningham, who works with the Nova Scotia Community College-Institute of technology says he didn’t hesitate to sign up for the course.

 “In the evolution of IT in Eastern Canada, New Brunswick is the province to go to.”

Building on that expertise, Enterprise Saint John worked with T4G to develop an economic development strategy that focuses on big data and the technology and talent that drives it. Companies and communities will eventually feed all kinds of public, community data all into one place, one data portal. Simpson says that a database of this size could give data analysts a place to look for patterns, problems and ultimately solutions for companies and communities.

“We will have this rich data base of info that is going to give us more insight about how people are moving, the types of economy that’s happening here and so much more, it’s going to be really exciting.”

Sara Taafe with Open Data Atlantic agrees. She says data analytics is already showing promise for municipalities. She heard the following story at the Govmaker conference in Fredericton.

 ‘They had things like the amount of car accidents caused by moose in the province.  They saw the data, and where those accidents happened over the years. For highway 8 between Fredericton and Saint John, they saw a huge reduction in accidents after the fences were put up and it was almost a light bulb moment for some of the mayors. This [data] takes the politics out of the decision making. Because we have the numbers to show where our different dollars need to go for infrastructure,” says Taafe.

To solve problems using data, more people will need to be trained in data analytics.  This talent will help both local companies grow and attract new ones to the region.  International competition is so fierce for specialized talent in data analytics, that communities connected to this skillset will ultimately be a magnet for business.

 “For us to be a Connected Community here in Saint John and in the province, we have the tools and technology. We have an eco-system that wants to make it happen and I think it will happen here.”

If you’re interested in learning more about a career on the technical side of Big Data analytics, an upcoming 1-day class on March 22nd will introduce people to some of the skills required. Participants don’t have to have previous knowledge in data programming.  Depending on what resonates with them the most, the instructor will guide them on where to best invest their study time and dollars.

For more information on education and training in the I-T sector, go to

Originally published in the Saint John Telegraph Journal February 17, 2017