Data Fest 18, the second outing for The Data Lab festival, will support ‘data warriors’, whatever their core profession or industry, “by providing inspiration, tools and leadership skills to make a difference”, said the organisers.

The festival will run from 19-23 March encompassing a talent event, an international summit and numerous fringe events across Scotland. The Data Lab said that by bringing different industries, expertise and data together, the huge potential of data can be realised.

This is exemplified by returning speaker, Dr Hannah Fry, “a data warrior for her championing of data to support human decisions, not replace them”. Dr Fry explained: “The more open and collaborative data is, the better use it will be to society.

“This requires input from all walks of life and areas of expertise – not just mathematicians or data scientists. We must continue to challenge analysis and improve algorithms to derive the greatest value from data. Algorithms can support human decisions – not replace them.”

Fry is leading pioneering research into how a pandemic spreads and what, using a special pandemic app, would happen if one hit the UK. The free app will anonymously collect vital data on how far users travel over 24 hours.

Users will be asked about the number of people they have come into contact with during this time. By partnering with researchers at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the BBC Pandemic App will identify the human networks and behaviours that spread infectious disease.

The 2018 Data Fest will be supported again by analytics leader SAS.

Hugo D’Ulisse, senior manager, public sector at SAS UK & Ireland, said: “SAS has many data warriors of its own and our users and customers all play their part on a continual basis, so I’m looking forward to sharing what we’ve learnt and hearing from others too. I’m very proud that we’ve been able to be the premier sponsor of Data Fest 2018; it’s a unique event.

“If we’re going to use data and analytics to shape and drive the Scottish economy, then it’s vital that we play our part in enabling and improving collaboration, wherever we can, between customers, developers and everyone involved in developing analytics and data science skills.

“There are lots of exciting opportunities in Scotland right now, and helping to make more ideas become a reality through sharing our knowledge and expertise and combining that with the talent and potential here is very compelling.”

Gillian Docherty, chief executive at The Data Lab, added: “We are committed to enhancing how data is used in Scotland, and internationally, by giving data warriors in every sector support at the Data Fest next Spring. The event is set to be bigger and better than the inaugural event this year.”

More than 2,000 participants attended DataFest17 in March, ranging from school children to politicians, academics to key industry players. DataFest18 will seek to build on 2017’s list of world class speakers, and further increase international participation and academic involvement, with plans to boost participation by some 500 additional attendees.