Data conference brings thousands to Anchorage

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The 2019 KDD (Knowledge Discovery in Databases) Conference is officially underway in Anchorage. Through Thursday, around 5000 data scientists will be in town to discuss the latest advancements in their respective fields.

Chid Apte works for IBM Research and has served on the organizing committee for KDD for more than two decades. He says this years conference, which also marks the 25th anniversary of the event, is the biggest yet.

"This is the worlds foremost data scientist conference," he said. "Where the researchers and the practitioners come together to find out the latest advances and how they can be put to use."

According the Apte, data science is becoming more and more important as part of our daily lives.

"Today, when you use the apps on your phone or open a web page to look for a product, or the kinds of directions being received from a self-driving car -- all these are being driven by data science technology," said Apte.

The Municipality of Anchorage teamed up with UAA, Visit Anchorage and Axiom Data to apply as a location for the event in 2016 according to Brendan Babb, the municipality's Chief Innovation Officer. Babb says the attendance at this year's conference should translate to roughly $5 million dollars in direct economic impacts, as well as an estimated $300,000 in municipal taxes through hotel and rental car taxes. He also hopes the successful bid will lead to increased attention for data collections that are unique to Alaska.

"Alaska has a lot of environmental science data and a lot of oil and gas data," Babb said. "It's great to have people take a look at that. I think it will really be a shot in the arm for data science in Anchorage, and Alaska, and the US."

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