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SIB Data and Digital

SIB acts as a centre of expertise in the public sector on data and digital innovation. Our team supports a wide range of clients and projects by providing strategic advice, project management and procurement support on:

  • delivery of next generation digital infrastructure for Northern Ireland
  • roll-out of digital technologies to transform our public services
  • use of advanced data science to enhance public sector decision-making
  • greater adoption of data and digital innovation in our public and private sector.

This support is available from a number of specialist teams within the Group.

Data Analytics Research & Exploitation (DARE)

Established in 2016, DARE specialises in supporting our clients in all areas of data engineering and advanced data science.  Our work ranges from development of appropriate organisational data strategies, to implementation planning and delivery.  DARE has particular expertise on:

  • leadership of strategic initiatives to help the public sector understand and implement appropriate digital and data technologies to deliver improved outcomes;
  • design and delivery of secure on-premise and cloud-based data systems architectures and analytics, using a wide variety of open-source and proprietary technologies to meet clients’ business objectives;
  • use of advanced statistical modelling (including machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques) to extract maximum value from public sector data, particularly for forecasting and rapid scenario evaluation;
  • design and delivery of user-facing application for the public sector;
  • applications of Systems Dynamics Modeling as a distinct technique for understanding and modeling complexity in large and inter-related public sector systems;

DARE manages the £2.4m per annum Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) programme in Northern Ireland on behalf of the Department for the Economy (DfE).  Under the SBRI programme, SIB assists public bodies to access research and innovation from the private sector data and digital technology marketplace. To date, SIB has worked with around 35 technology companies to deliver innovative solutions to a wide range of public sector challenges; for example:

  • for DAERA, using satellite imagery to detect cattle and sheep grazing on farms across Northern Ireland to improve animal welfare
  • for the Education Authority, using sensor technologies and data analytics to improve pupil safety during home-to-school transport across Northern Ireland
  • for Belfast City Council, using digital edge technologies and AI to detect and respond to anti-social behaviour in public parks across the city and encourage healthy use.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, DARE has designed and built detailed epidemiological models and contact tracing analytics as a member of the Expert Modelling Group of the Department of Health in Northern Ireland.  DARE staff have also input to UK government’s SAGE modeling group on COVID-19.

Specialist Data/Digital Commissions

Alongside core DARE services, SIB provides specialist data and digital support on a longer-term basis, where requested by our clients.  For example, we are providing:

  • a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to Tourism NI. The CTO has responsibility to develop and implement an appropriate and agreed data and digital strategy to meet the needs of the tourism sector in Northern Ireland, working a wide range of industry stakeholders and reporting to the TNI Board.
  • a Chief Digital Information Officer (CDIO) to the Department of Health. The CDIO provides professional leadership and co-ordination for all data and digital modernization initiatives and procurements across Health & Social Care (HSC) organisation in Northern Ireland – including the recent signing of a £275m 10-year deal with US firm Epic to supply electronic patient records across the region.
  • a Digital Innovation Commissioner for Belfast, to support the vibrant digital innovation economy and Smart City agenda across Belfast City Council.

Digital Catapult NI

SIB’s Data & Digital Group is also home to Digital Catapult NI – the local hub of the UK Digital Catapult.

Through Digital Catapult NI, SIB helps local organisations of all sizes to originate and adopt advanced digital technologies for commercial benefit. It has a wide network of collaborative partners across multiple technologies, supporting knowledge transfer and creating opportunities for local companies.

Working closely with InvestNI, the Department for the Economy and our universities, Digital Catapult NI introduces businesses to new possibilities by sharing use cases that demonstrate how emerging technologies are being deployed in industry.  It helps businesses to leverage the opportunities being presented, particularly by artificial intelligence and immersive technology:

  • through the Immersive Lab, startups, scaleups and organisations of all sizes can experience the latest immersive technologies, including virtual reality and augmented reality. This space can also be used to demonstrate and test their own immersive content.
  • through the internet of things (IoT), organisations can gather and process data, which can then be analysed using artificial intelligence to deliver key insights.
  • local businesses can also apply to join the Digital Catapult Machine Intelligence Garage programme, which opens a global door to accelerate their AI capabilities and ambitions.

Digital Infrastructure Projects

 Originally established to accelerate delivery of major ‘hard infrastructure’ projects, SIB is now a regional centre of expertise in delivery of major digital infrastructure.  This includes provision of technical advisory and programme/project management expertise for investments such as:

  • 5NINES, Northern Ireland’s first commercial carrier neutral data centre, providing hosting, servers, co-location & cloud services to Northern Ireland, Ireland and GB. Located within the Atlantic Link Enterprise Campus, this world-class facility provides super-efficient and exceptionally resilient, high security data storage with the flexibility to satisfy clients from small customers to those with wholesale requirements.
  • Project Stratum – the £165m broadband infrastructure project to extend access to superfast broadband services to 79,000 premises across Northern Ireland. The premises to benefit will be in a position to avail of some of the highest available broadband speeds delivered through an NGA ‘full fibre’ solution, such as Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). This will provide citizens with the option of availing of broadband services with speeds up to 1,000 Mbps, with speed packages available to consumers competitively priced on an open access network

For more information on SIB Data & Digital services, please contact:

Dr Martin Spollen

Chief Investment Officer & Head of DARE


+44 (0)7966 982363