Session Details

Harnessing the Potential of Generative AI: A Path Forward 

Generative AI (GenAI) made waves with the masses in 2023 in the form of ChatGPT. More recently, Microsoft Copilot has ventured into the public sector. What does this mean for us? For local government, GenAI-powered tools have the potential to enhance our work, such as writing, research and programming, to name a few. 

The City of Markham and York Region shared their experiences using GenAI. Workshop participants then had the opportunity to surface solid use cases of GenAI in their organization, appreciate the challenges they may face and how, by working together, these challenges can be addressed. 

Sumon Acharjee, Chief Information Officer, City of Markham
Andrée Gates, Data Project Specialist, York Region
Duncan Rowe, Manager, Analytics and Visualization, York Region




Data Literacy: A Key to Digital Transformation 

In today’s rapidly evolving digital landscape, organizations are increasingly recognizing the importance of data in driving innovation, efficiency and better services. To successfully embark on digital transformation projects, organizations must first build a solid foundation of data literacy. By fostering a data-literate workforce, we can unlock the full potential of our data and drive impactful change across our departments and organizations.   

This session equipped workshop participants with the knowledge and skills to build a data literate workforce. They explored the fundamental concepts of data literacy and its vital role in implementing digital transformation initiatives. Through engaging discussions, real-world examples and practical exercises, participants developed a deeper understanding of how data literacy fosters a digital mindset to effectively contribute to their organization’s digital transformation journey 

Scott MacNeil, Director, Modernization and Transformation, Town of East Gwillimbury 
Sarah Allen, Digital Education Program Specialist, York Region 
John Houweling, Director, Data, Analytics and Visualization Services, York Region




Building a Dream Team: Talent Acquisition Strategies for Data and Analytics Resources 

The demand for skilled data scientists, analysts, and other data and analytics professionals is high, while supply remains limited. This workshop helped participants explore effective talent acquisition strategies, obstacles faced by organizations, and pinpoint opportunities to address these challenges.  

The workshop began with Richmond Hill and York Region providing background on their approaches to hiring and growing Data and Analytics talent. Workshop participants then discussed what positions they need and the challenges they and others encounter in attracting applicants, recruiting, onboarding and retaining good people. Together, we considered opportunities for collaboration in data and analytics recruiting and developing talent. 

Rob Jones, Director Information Technology/CIO, City of Richmond Hill 
Joanne Taylor, Head, Talent Management, York Region 
Susan Chin Snelgrove, Manager, Data Management, York Region 




The Power of Data Sharing: Maximizing Opportunities through Collaboration and Awareness 

Data fuels our business processes and informs our analysis. But sometimes getting the data you need when you need it is harder than it should be, with various concerns including data privacy and data security sometimes presenting unwarranted barriers. Platforms, partnerships and a variety of tools have collectively improved data sharing possibilities. The Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville and York Region demonstrated how YorkData, the Data Sharing Toolkit, the Data Co-Op and the YorkInfo Partnership are helping them achieve their collective goals. 

The workshop focused on how we can further collaborate to share data within and between our organizations. Workshop participants shared successes stories, discussed challenges, and brainstormed potential strategies to enable and foster a culture of data sharing and collaboration.   

Paul Lefaive, GIS Analyst, Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville 
Christie-Lee Hazzard, GIS Project Specialist, York Region 
Brendan Coles, Corporate Data Product Specialist, York Region 
Julie Millson, Program Manager, Partnerships, York Region 




Data Governance: Unlocking the Potential of Your Organization’s Data Assets 

Formal data stewardship is increasingly recognized as crucial for effective management of an organization’s data assets, but stewardship is also a surprisingly new concept. If you work in data and want better quality data, you’re likely wondering what stewardship is all about.  

This workshop focused on the pivotal role of the data steward, the unsung heroes who monitor data quality and ensure security and privacy are respected within our organizations. They bridge the gap between data producers and consumers. Staff from the City of Vaughan and York Region presented on their data quality efforts, on initiating formal data stewardship programs and on implementation challenges. Workshop participants then worked through a sample data quality target-setting process and discussed the best ways for data stewards to engage with data stakeholders. 

Stephen Graham, Enterprise Data Architect, City of Vaughan 
Laura Thomas, Enterprise Data Governance Specialist, York Region 
Bob Parry, Data Access and Quality Specialist, York Region 
Andrew Satterthwaite, Manager, Special Projects, York Region 




Data Storytelling: Unleashing the Power of Insights through Compelling Narratives 

As a data and analytics professional, have you ever found that decision-makers or the public misinterpret or misunderstand your analysis? Data storytelling is the art of combining data analysis with compelling narratives to effectively communicate insights and drive action. 

The workshop explored the importance of data storytelling and what we can do to improve our storytelling capabilities. Staff from the Town of Georgina and York Region presented examples of effective data storytelling. Workshop participants then collectively assessed our storytelling capabilities, the level of preparedness among staff to effectively utilize data storytelling techniques, and what training we need to be able to transform data insights into meaningful stories that resonate with the public, our stakeholders and decision-makers.   

Bojan Balmazovic, GIS Data Analyst, Town of Georgina 
Shawn Prasad, Manager, Infectious Diseases, York Region 
Claudia Letea, Business Solutions Manager, York Region