E14 – Tom Verhelst – On Using Place-Based Data Analytics for Solving Regional Problems

Tom Verhelst

Tom Verhelst has made his presence felt across the humanitarian use of data science and technological innovations from improving healthcare to solving community problems.  

He is the Program Director of the Regional Innovation Data Lab (RIDL) at Griffith University. 

RIDL is a unique data organisation focused on place-based data analytics to foster community development, better policy making, and solve national and regional problems in Australia using data science. 

RIDL is a not for profit organisation creating opportunities to fast-track innovative solutions that address long-standing urban and regional problems. It is a part of the Griffith University and collaborates with all the research activities that are going on in the university, which ranks in the top two percent of universities globally and is actively engaged in high-level research for the betterment of humankind. 

Before joining Griffith University, Tom was the Associate Director R&D IT at UCB, which is among the top 30 global pharmaceutical companies, and Project Manager Professional Services, Informatics at PerkinElmer, a Fortune 500 company. 

At those two organisations, Tom utilised his strong R&D expertise and experience in applying technological innovations towards scientific advancement to generate beneficial socioeconomic impacts.

In this episode, he gives a detailed view of how all that took place in terms of using data analytics, AI, and machine learning in biosciences and pharmaceuticals to fast track innovation and enable the researchers to give more time and focus on decision-making factors. 

He talks about why it is necessary to look deeply into the data sets of local metrics to solve regional problems specific to the locality and gain insights into the specific communities and regional councils. That’s why place-based analytics really allows the researchers to take a look into regional problems with whole new perspectives and come up with the most feasible solutions.

Tom explains that you have to look at the place, the context, and the complete social and cultural structure of the region to get to the root of problems, weaknesses, and strengths. He also describes the working process with the example of Logan City Council.

Moreover, why it is important to create a safe space where businesses, government bodies, and other entities can share data to aggregate, anonymise, and use to drive regional public growth. And, how any growth of a region will help all the businesses as well. It becomes a win for all! 

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