'Excitement is building': Data hub opens in former police station
Ryan Flanagan, CTV Kitchener
Published Thursday, May 11, 2017 6:13PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 11, 2017 6:32PM EDT
The newest incarnation of a building vacated by Waterloo Regional Police four years ago was unveiled on Thursday.
The former police station on Erb Street was purchased by Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis in 2013.
They initially planned to open a boutique hotel on the site. Instead, it was renovated into a hub for companies interested in working with data.
“Excitement is building around the application of big data techniques and concepts,” Kevin Tuer, the managing director of Canada’s Open Data Exchange, said in an interview.
Tuer said that the emergence of the Internet of Things has resulted in more data being collected than ever before, but companies are still figuring out how they can use it to serve their interests.
“How do we get from this resource of data into real applications that create opportunity?” he said.
“That’s really what this place is about.”
The biggest tenant in the space is Communitech. Like other Communitech spaces, the open data hub brings together companies at all stages – from start-ups to massive corporations.
CIBC is an initial tenant which fits into the latter category.
Jose Ribau, the company’s chief data officer, said that the bank collects a lot of data on its customers, and wants to figure out how it can use that data to improve their banking experience.
“What attracted us was the local talent and expertise,” he said, adding that one data scientist working out of the building chose the job in part because it didn’t require a move to Toronto.
While the exterior of the building has heritage protections and looks little different than it did when police moved out in 2013, the interior has seen significant changes – including the removal of a number of walls, in an attempt to open up the space.
With reporting by Max Wark