Due to close in 2023 – but saved by data science?
Posted on 16th March 2018
Every time we buy from Amazon, or open up an online account, we are parting with our data. Recommendations as to what you might purchase next can be very useful and, while it’s essential that there are safeguards (GDPR anybody?), the way in which data are being used has transformed the online business world.
However, while we generally accept the ways in which data science impacts on our lives, there are other, less-heralded, ways in which it is increasingly affecting the wider economy, especially in the industrial/engineering sphere.
A key fringe event at DataFest18* will explore this in more detail on Monday 19th March, at Strathclyde University’s Technology and Innovation Centre in Glasgow. Hosted by the Centre’s Professor Stephen McArthur, “Delivering Industrial Value from Data Analytics” will explore the value and impact that data analytics have made in industrial environments with specific examples from nuclear generation, electrical grids, renewable generation and the oil and gas industry.
Professor McArthur’s work in AI and data science solutions have led him to the view that although there is equal value to data in industrial environments compared to other business settings, there are also very specific challenges. The potential benefits though are immense. For example, in Scotland we have two nuclear power plants, both of which are scheduled to close soon – Hunterston in 2023 and Torness in 2030. In a world where energy supplies may be less reliable than at present, it’s important that we gather data from all the available sources at facilities like these to see if we can prolong their working lives. The range of data available from the rotating mechanical plant, steam turbines, generators, electrical cables and the nuclear core is vast and with detailed and informed analysis it may be possible to extend the life of these plants.
Unfortunately, the location of much industrial/engineering data makes it hard to access and analyse. In rural areas, where there are little or no telecoms to transmit them to the data lab, a lot of data may, literally, be up poles and pylons.
These – and similar – issues are what Professor McArthur’s workshop will tackle. By bringing lots of like-minded people and companies together – there are currently 8 companies presenting and 100 people from industry and the data science community listed to attend – there will be opportunities to learn from the challenges others have faced and thus to increase the speed of innovation to that seen in online retail sectors.
A lot of people talk about big data, but sometimes the volumes are not huge. Despite this, there is still significant information that can be drawn out and much more that can be done in the industrial/engineering context that is currently not happening. Ultimately, it’s in everyone’s interest that this happens and it will, without doubt, create lots of opportunities for data scientists now and in the future.
Christina Hall, Ops Manager, Be-IT
* Datafest18 is a festival of data innovation run by The Data Lab, with events hosted across Scotland from 19th to 23rd March 2018.
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