DataJam North East: Event Series – #5 Smart Living


Around this time of year, DataJam would usually be running a series of face-to-face events including the DataJam conference – an annual event first held in 2018 – which has had great success in producing tangible outcomes and funded projects for our region.

Although we are not able to hold a physical conference at the new Catalyst Building on the Newcastle Helix Site this year, DataJam North East held a series of virtual events to explore five key themes:

  • Health

  • Environment

  • Inclusivity

  • Mobility

  • Smart living

We hope that the ideas and projects identified at these remote events will, through broader community engagement in a series of follow-up meetings, be developed into projects the DataJam community can work on together, and be taken forward to the next DataJam conference.

Smart living event

Data promises to revolutionise our lives.

It can be used to monitor our health and to promote wellbeing, to make our homes and offices more efficient, to keep us connected to our work and our loved ones, and to better integrate us with our society and our environment.

What are the new products and services that will help us deliver those opportunities?

The DataJam Event Series Smart Living webinar brought together people from across the data community to hear about initiatives, actions and challenges, and to discuss how we can, as a community, help policy-makers better understand and react to these challenges.

Through talk and discussion, we sought to better understand what we mean by ‘smart living’ and to explore how we can navigate the potential disruption that these changes will bring. Some 30 people from across 18 organisations gathered to hear speakers from public and private-sector organisations including:

  • Urban Foresight

  • Hull City Council

  • Arup

  • ADL Smartcare

  • Newcastle University

  • Future Homes Alliance

Speed talks – data insights

Working towards data-driven decision-making (and other buzzwords)

Adam Jennison, ICT Principal Lead (Smart City), Hull City Council

Our talks got off to a great start with Adam Jennison who shared his experiences in Hull’s Smart City journey, its unique qualities and issues, and the focus they are bringing to data and data-driven decision-making. Adam explored the definition of a Smart City as a connected system, the importance of measuring attributes, and collecting data to measure its output. He went on to discuss the reasoning behind their approach and procurement and how this differs between cities, and shared some use-cases they are looking at with the data they are uncovering.

To find out more about Hull’s Smart City journey, contact Adam.

Follow Adam on Twitter.

Privacy challenges of space monitoring in smart buildings

Charles Morisset, Senior Lecturer in Security, Newcastle University

In his talk, Charles explored space monitoring in smart buildings, focusing on privacy challenges and how to address them. Charles’ background is in security and privacy and he has been working with the Urban Observatory at Newcastle University for some time, focusing on privacy challenges. Recent work has been on the health and safety aspect of building occupancy and regulation, but their current topic extends beyond the effects of Covid to general concerns from employees about monitoring in their workplace.

Charles outlined the projects his researchers are undertaking to explore how data can be used to do better in this regard. These included privacy preservation by image recognition and degrading image quality and instance occupancy detection. Summing up, he posed some open questions to the community, including, ‘How can we convince space-users that their privacy is preserved?’

Those interested in working with the data set Charles and his team have collected are welcome to get in touch.

Follow Charles on Twitter.


Teaching Alexa to say 'No' – the importance of context for data

Peter Gore, CEO ADL Smartcare Limited, Professor of Practice in Ageing & Vitality, Newcastle University

Peter’s discussion of the importance of context for data, focused specifically around smart living in the kitchen environment. 7% of people in the UK are living in multi-generational households and this may become more common. Peter, his team and their designer have created a 4GenK kitchen, recently installed in The Catalyst building at Newcastle University. The kitchen is designed so that all generations can use the space. This kitchen is intended to allow a multi-generational household to safely and productively use the same space at the same time or separately without needing changes for individuals.

In his talk, Peter explored the setting of this challenge and its design process then went on to put the work in a technological context, exploring the use of available off-the-shelf control systems in the same environment.

To arrange a visit to the 4Gen kitchen contact:

Follow ADL Smartcare Ltd on Twitter:

Visit ADL Smartcare Ltd LinkedIn channel:

Digital homes

Ross Weddle, Future Homes Alliance

Leading on nicely from the previous talk, Ross Weddle introduced the work of the Future Homes Alliance which is a community interest company developing a blueprint to challenge the status quo and provide housing fit for the future.

Future Homes have recently been granted full planning permission for 66 housing units for multi-generation households. Not being data specialists themselves, Ross reached out to the community to better understand the challenge of building performance evaluation and monitoring and how data could be used to make improvements to the design of their housing for the future of inhabitants. Ross raised questions around what should be monitored – what’s useful and what’s of real benefit – as well as the ownership of data. Future Homes hope to work with Newcastle Helix site neighbours to discuss and adopt potential monitoring options.

Find out more about the work of Future Homes:

Contact Ross Weddle for more information:

Sharing data for a smarter city: challenges and opportunities

Aastha Madaan, Senior Data Scientist, Arup

Aastha’s talk was a reflection on the challenges and opportunities around sharing data which she has observed over the last few years working as a Senior Data Scientist at Arup and Research Fellow at the University of Southampton. Put in the context of the digitisation of cities and data-driven transformation, Aastha explored a variety of topics around the sharing of data between smart communities including the new digital team at Arup and their work around Smart buildings and digital fabrication, communities brought together via cyber social machines, trust between the community and local government and the importance of continuity for data-driven solutions and the maintenance of data repositories.

Learn more about Arup:

Follow Aastha on Twitter: @MadaanAastha

User needs for assistive technologies

Emma Clement, Consultant, Urban Foresight

Urban Foresight is a smart cities consultancy based at The Catalyst on the Newcastle Helix site. They work on the application of technology management policies and strategies to urban environments and public sector services for the benefit of the environment, residences, business and other stakeholders within an ecosystem.

Emma’s talk focused on an assistive technology project carried out by Urban Foresight with Sunderland City Council around their National Assistive Technologies Test Bed for digital services in social care. Emma outlined the background of the project as well as the series of design principles and the assistive technologies end-user needs which were a key output from the project.

Contact Emma for more information:

Learn more about Urban Foresight:


What’s next?

We have come to the end of the current DataJam Event Series but are looking forward to hosting more DataJam events in the new year.

Over the course of the series, and in lieu of the physical conference we would usually be hosting at the new Catalyst Building on the Newcastle Helix Site, we have explored five key themes:

  • Health

  • Environment

  • Inclusivity

  • Mobility

  • Smart Living

Take a look at the highlight reels below or watch the full recordings of our DataJam Event Series to see the tangible outcomes and projects which stemmed from the 2019 and 2018 DataJam conferences.

More focused meetings have followed each event to drill down into individual projects. For more information on these follow-up meetings or to join the ongoing discussions, view our social media channels or contact

We hope that the ideas and projects identified at these remote events will, through broader community engagement in a series of follow-up meetings, be developed into projects which the DataJam community can work on together and be taken forward to the next DataJam conference which we hope to hold in Autumn 2021.

More information on the next DataJam online event, coming soon!

#DataJamEventSeries and data strategy

DataJam North East aims to bring people together with a variety of backgrounds from across the public and private sectors to talk about how data and service design can be used to solve real problems that are affecting people in our region.

The DataJam Event Series is supported by the National Innovation Centre for Data and the Analysts Network North East.

Missed a DataJam event?

View more content here:

#5 DataJam Event Series Smart Living Webinar 26 November [FULL] and Highlight Reel

#4 DataJam Event Series Inclusivity Webinar 8 October [FULL] and Highlight Reel

#3 DataJam Event Series Mobility Webinar 13 August [FULL] and Highlight Reel

#2 DataJam Event Series Environment Webinar 9 July [FULL] and Highlight Reel

#1 DataJam Event Series Health Webinar 4 June 2020

DataJam 2019 Collaboration and Community

The Outcomes from DataJam 2018

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