At the first in-person Digital Jersey Annual Review since 2019, global industry experts urged the Island to seize the opportunities it has in developing major new areas of the economy by using its current strengths and executing strategic digital vision.
Around 200 people attended the two-hour review at Cineworld, where they heard about the successes of the past year, despite the pandemic, as well as the huge opportunities for the Island. They also learned how technology isn’t just about the digital sector or new businesses, but is helping traditional industries, like agriculture, improve productivity and reduce resources through the Smart Fields project.
Senator Lyndon Farnham paid tribute to the work that Digital Jersey has done: “Your work is extremely important. Perhaps the most important is the Digital Academy and helping Islanders train and develop new skills. Everything we do with digital will contribute to improving our productivity. Digital Jersey has always pushed the boundaries and provided an alchemy to the island and to the sector which has been very useful. The way we shape our economy shapes our society.”
In the highlights of 2021, CEO Tony Moretta talked about the Jersey for Fintech microsite launch (www.fintech.je), the Island leading the world in broadband speeds, and initiatives such as Open Banking. 2021 also saw the launch of the funding platform initiative, Springboard, and work with Andium Homes to install damp censors in order to anticipate problems for tenants. Tony also told the audience, that despite the pandemic, last year had been the most successful period in advertising Jersey as a place to live and relocate a business and they’d never had a stronger pipeline of prospects who are looking to move here, bring their companies, and provide revenue and jobs for the economy.
New initiatives for 2022 include working with government to ensure the Technology Accelerator Fund kickstarts the ecosystem here by using tech to solve the Island’s productivity and environmental challenges. Tony also said they will work to harness the potential of States owned enterprises working together to develop new technology, whether that’s through infrastructure such as fibre broadband or the smart metering network.
Tony added: “We will also launch a digital matchmaking tool. We are working to match up Jersey Finance members who have projects they need doing with Digital Jersey members who can support them. A kind of local procurement platform. If that works we will expand that portal to other sectors.”
One of the main areas that was highlighted in terms of opportunities, was that of digital stewardship. Rachel Harker, Technology Development Consultant with Digital Jersey, introduced the findings of a working group of industry experts who last year had been looking into the opportunities for data stewardship in the Island.
Rachel said: “We are living through the data revolution. By 2025 the world will be generating 175 trillion gigabytes of data each year. It’s impossible to imagine that amount of data, but we do understand its worth because the most valuable companies in the world are digital data driven businesses like Facebook, Amazon and Google.
“All businesses want to drive efficiencies and make better decisions and they can do that through data. This represents a huge opportunity for Jersey. We steward a trillion dollars of financial assets in Jersey. That can be matched with data stewardship. With our internationally respected legal system and judiciary and the trusts and foundation experts who serve the financial sector, Jersey could pivot its skills and develop a data stewardship sector.”
John Taysom, co-founder of UK based data privacy company, Privitar, told the audience that Jersey has the perfect opportunity to develop a data stewardship ecosystem and become the Delaware of the information age. “Delaware is the second smallest state in the USA, but it has 70% of the Fortune 500 companies registered there because it was the first to develop a business-friendly legal environment. Artificial Intelligence will be in some form of everything we do going forward, and AI needs data. We need an ethical framework for AI to work for us and whether you or someone else does it, it will happen. So, Jersey has an opportunity in data trusts. The Island is big enough to be meaningful, but small enough to be manageable.”
His words were backed up by Miranda Sharp who sits on the Smart London board. She said: “In London there is no one body that has all the data we need. There are complex governance issues with boroughs and the Greater London Authority. Jersey has an advantage over everybody else because people can collaborate here and there is the connectivity.”
Working with government to encourage more sustainable island wide travel, Digital Jersey announced it is going to invite cyclists in the island to take part in a data sharing pilot initiative later this year. Irene McAleese Co-founder of See.Sense will help run the project and told the annual review how the project will work. Their ‘intelligent’ bike lights will allow the cycling community to share anonymised sensor data insights to improve safety and planning. “Swerving patterns, braking, and even road surfaces can be monitored. Data can be used for cycle network planning and to identify where there is a pedestrian conflict or hazardous locations. The lights will also flash brighter and faster, even in daylight, at moments of risk.”
Alan Brown, Professor of Digital Economy at the University of Exeter Business School, talked about his work with stakeholders last year at the Building a Digital Jersey event. He said they would be carrying on that strategic work this year but urged the Island to make the most of its current opportunities. “The danger in Jersey is that you want to retain your lifestyle and what you like, but you have to move on. The challenge is to know when to change what made you successful. Jersey needs to work together and drive change and underpinning that is the right skills base because it is all about people. Strategy without execution is just hallucination.”