14/12/2020

MIT’s big data laboratory at Lot Fourteen is closer than ever to yielding results that will help grow the state’s economy.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) big data Living Lab, based at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide, is just a few months away from its goal of using data generated from the everyday lives of South Australians and visitors to SA to help grow the state’s economy.

The process is a clever collaboration between MIT, principal partner BankSA, Optus, DSpark and the State Government. “MIT is a fantastic partner to work with as they are a leading university in the world, a global leader in data science,” Nick Reade, chief executive of BankSA, says.

With several MIT labs already operating around the world, Adelaide has not had to reinvent the wheel but can immediately take advantage of the powerful data tools MIT has produced elsewhere. The corporate partners in the project are providing their own expertise, as well as bank and telco customer data, all carefully washed of individuals’ personal details.

Similar data from the State Government has been added to the mix.

“We’ve got aggregated data, there’s no personalised information, no individual data,” Reade says.

The amassed information is nonetheless very rich and is revealing useful trends and themes through several concurrent projects the lab has on the go. The group is using the data to burrow down into the true economic value of boosting mobility through transport networks.

“MIT has done an enormous amount of work around the world looking at what is the benefit of getting people mobile,” Reade says.

“We are looking at what’s the economic benefit of doing that, in a state growth sense.

“We typically go, there’s a social benefit of public transport, the jobs benefit of building that road, but we don’t usually articulate what happens if we get Mr and Mrs Smith from Port Adelaide from A to B – does that create other economic value, does it create jobs?”

An outcome of this deeper investigation might be using the information to help franchisees make better decisions about the best location to open their next business. Using data from interstate visitors may also lead to lengthening tourists’ visits to SA, delivering a very direct economic benefit.

“People might be coming to SA for the Fringe, we can see it from plane rides booked and tickets reserved,” Reade says.

“We can go, ‘What can we do to capture this opportunity, market ourselves differently, provide more incentives for a side trip?’.

“We have a number of projects we are working on and we are quite excited by the potential. We are pretty close to having more ideas than we have the capacity to do, but that’s a good problem to have. There’s lots of interest.

“We’ve got a job to land these things and get them out into the right hands. We are trying to add value.”

This article originally appeared in Future Adelaide