SDS|2018 – glimpses and highlights. What a great day!

It’s already been about a week and the SDS organising committee members are still feeling the exhaustion that stays after the completion of a grand event.

On 7th of June, we organised the 5th Swiss Conference on Data Science (SDS) at Kursaal in Bern. What had started as a half day workshop in 2014 with less than a hundred participants and born out of the Datalab in InIT ZHAW, is now a day conference gathering around 400 people. The conference has been a flagship event of the Swiss Alliance for Data-Intensive Services (Data+Service Alliance), a Switzerland wide network of Data and Service scientists and professionals, for the past 2 years with a strive to get bigger and better each year in terms of content and participation.

The main conference was held on the 7th and we had a pre-conference event on Deep Learning co-organized by Fernfachhochschule (FFHS) the day before. There were 3 talks followed by an apero and thereafter the Data+Service Alliance General Assembly. Tamedia, Nvidia and Datalab ZHAW presented at the Deep Learning Workshop, the slides of which can be found here.

The pre-conference event went very well and was completely sold out with 60 participants joining us. The Data+Service GA afterwards was also a good meeting and went by smoothly.

The next day, 7th June, was the big day for us. We started at 7am, setting up the location and then the day rolled out until 7 in the evening. Following are some of the glimpses to tell you more. We hope that you had a good time at the conference and are already looking forward to SDS|2019 as we are.

Our own, Dr. Gundula Heinatz Bürki opened the conference with her welcome speech. The opening was shared by our Presenting Partner sponsor, D ONE Solutions, Mr. Hans Peter Gränicher. We thank D ONE Solutions for their continued and generous support in organising this conference.

The first keynote was given by Taavi Kotka, who gave insights about creating a digital society. He is the former Estonian Government CIO and is the person behind the Estonian digitalisation of the entire society. We are extremely proud to have him at our conference and hear from him in person. 

Taavi Kotka again here and it was a housefull.

Here we have Prof. Naftali Tishby, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He was our 2nd keynote speaker. Unfortunately his flight to Switzerland was cancelled and he couldn’t give the keynote in person. Thanks to the Kursaal technical team, we organised his session remotely and hopefully managed not to disappoint our participants completely. There was an entire afternoon track that Prof. Tishby was to hold, which again was held remotely. We thank Prof. Tishby for still doing it that way and the technical team at Kursaal which made it all smooth and possible.

The rest of the day went quite smooth and no further glitches were observed! The food was excellent and the breaks long enough to instigate enlightening discussions.

We had a large participation of around 400 people, here is what it looked like at the lunch break!

Because of the nice, warm weather, many people enjoyed their discussion at the terrasse.

Dr. Lisa Amini, Director of MIT IBM Watson Lab joined us as a keynote speaker. She enthralled the crowd with her talk about why AI needs even more Data Science, and vice versa.

At the end, SATW organised a panel discussion on “The impact we want AI to have on society”. The panel was held by dignitaries from Switzerland, academicians, member of parliament, Managing Director Hasler Stiftung, economists who kept the audience glued to their seats even at the end of the day. The question comes over and over again as to what the future holds for us with AI developing fast and forward hand in hand with humanity. We shall see, maybe already next year.

We thank all our keynote speakers, panelists, dignitaries, speakers and participants for making this 1 day conference a leap forward in the SDS conference series. A huge shout out to all our sponsors whose generous support is very highly appreciated.

Please stay tuned to check the conference photos, presentation slides and videos (from speakers who agreed to share) on the conference website They will be uploaded in the coming days and weeks. Meanwhile please take some time to fill in the feedback form and help us improve SDS|2019.

We look forward to working with you all again and meeting you for SDS|2019 next year on June 13th and 14th at Kursaal again!

Photo credit goes to Mr. Tom Würsten ( Thank you for the incredible pictures!

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