SJ Region will collaborate with data to innovate & grow

Harnessing the Power of Data for Community Success

Innovation and collaboration run deep in the Saint John region, and Enterprise Saint John is hoping to use that foundation to build economic success in the community. The time is also perfect to look at data as a fuel for this innovation.

“Our region enjoys some of the fastest Internet speeds in North America because of our fibre network but that’s just the start. There’s now a new resource in abundance running through our highway of glass, and that’s data.  With the close knit and collaborative nature of our community, people with cutting edge ideas can experiment and create new solutions using data,” says Enterprise Saint John’s, Janet Scott.

Scott is hoping more businesses and organizations will want to use the information they collect today to drive innovation tomorrow through the Smart & Connected Community Data Project. It was announced by the regional economic development agency and its partners in May. While other communities have had projects that use open or public data to find trends and insights into how a community runs or works, this is the first project in North America that will also encourage organizations and businesses to contribute the information they collect every day.

“Organizations are very good at collecting transactional information to achieve a business need.  However, it’s rare that this information be viewed in the context of external data.  A restaurant owner may know that a typical Friday night performance can help predict the next Friday’s results; however, correlating past results with other data like weather, events, staff, specials, etc. will give the owner a much better prediction and, as a result, will allow for much more confident decisions and better results,” says Project Manager, Mirko Crevatin.

Companies and organizations have been invited to workshops at the T4G offices on December 13th and 14th.  Crevatin and Scott want them to understand the power of the information they collect, or could collect, and how it could be used to solve challenges they’re facing.

“Most small businesses or organizations wouldn’t be able to afford to do this on their own, and many don’t know where to start. We want to explore how we might collaborate to develop new and innovative solutions using data. We can bring data scientists and resources to the table to analyze their data and find ways to help them be more successful, “says Scott.

As organizations agree to collaborate, anonymous and aggregated information will go into a cloud-based platform or repository where data scientists and innovators can apply models to find new insights and develop solutions to company and community challenges.  Data analytics can be used to help a company better forecast their sales, invest more strategically in marketing, better identify rising stars in their company and ensure they retain their most valuable clients.

“The ease in collecting large amount of data has resulted in more and more companies having enough information that modern data science techniques can now allow them to look at historical data to predict the future, and adjust accordingly, more accurately than ever before,” adds Crevatin.

The workshops will group organizations by similar industries such as entertainment, media, manufacturing, fundraising and membership, service industry as well as Municipal government.

“In November, we brought a number of restaurants together and learned that what they thought was an individual challenge was really an industry one. If like-minded organizations share and combine their data to solve common challenges, we can uncover important insights and build solutions. These solutions and insights will not only help the local industry flourish and grow, but could be marketed outside the province. It could also mean new start-ups are created around new learnings or applications,” says Scott.

25 organizations have signed up for the workshop and Enterprise Saint John plans to hold more in the future. Any organization that wants to find out more about the Smart & Connected Community Data Project can contact JanetScott@enterprisesj.com.