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Policy Provocations considers the role of big data at the Museum of Liverpool on November 3
We leave a far greater data trail than we often realise. So what value does our personal data hold and for whom?
Proponents argue that greater access to data promotes transparency and can help to deliver better public services and personalise what we purchase.
But is the data revolution all good news? Will privacy become a thing of the past and what – if anything – can we do to have more control over what we provide and what we get back in return?
Here, University of Liverpool geographer, Dr Karyn Morrissey and Chair of Autonomous Systems, Professor Simon Maskell consider the arguments ahead of Policy Provocations’ November 3 debate.
Professor Simon Maskell
“It is increasingly recognised that Big Data represents a Big Opportunity for business growth and for efficient operation of our wider community.
For example, by using sophisticated analysis of video from existing CCTV cameras, we could make the traffic lights more reactive. This would improve congestion and reduce pollution.
Similarly, by joining up data held in the disparate IT systems associated with hospitals and GP surgeries, we could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of patient care. Such opportunities will be the result of extracting information which existing underexploited data contain.
The technical challenge of extracting such information is being actively pursued and the state-of-the-art is moving on apace. However, there is a danger that such development might get out of step with the development of the legal constructs and the underpinning ethics associated with the adoption of the technology.
This is made particularly problematic by the fact that the public appear to simultaneously be happy to give their personal data away without realising (eg by using store cards), be concerned about the extent to which personal data is being connected (ie “Big Brother”) and be frustrated that personal information is not where they think it needs to be (eg with the hospital nurse who should surely know about the trip to the GP yesterday!).
We need to close the gap between the art-of-the-possible and the public’s understanding of the interplay between the potential threats and the exciting opportunities.”
Dr Karyn Morrissey
“Data is continuously generated on everyone, in every walk of life and across every sector, public, private and the not-for profit sector.
This is Big Data and with increased computing power the capacity to discover real-time patterns in realms of messy, unstructured data is increasing daily. Those interested can now gain real-time intelligence on everything from traffic to ticket sales, to crowd behavior and an individuals location.
Not belittling the undoubted worry about privacy and corporate misuse of personal data, there are real benefits in being able to access and analysis Big Data, particularly in the public arena.
Opportunities are not just limited to Tesco offering you 50p coupons for your favourite brand of jam.With regard to public health, we now have the ability to track infections in real time, an important tool in given the current Ebola outbreak.
Closer to home, big data helps to inform my current research which aims to identify chronic disease hotspots.
In essence, in responsible hands, big data can provide the necessary knowledge to generate innovative solutions for the enhancement of society, across a range of both public and private sectors, for example health, education, transport, retail and many more.”
The panel, chaired by Radio Merseyside‘s Dr Roger Phillips, consists of Richard Aldrich, Professor of International Security at the University of Warwick; David Crane, Global Head of Applied Innovation at Hewlett Packard and Stephen Shakespeare, CEO and co-founder or YouGov PLC
Big Data or Big Brother? Is ‘big data’ a big threat or a big opportunity? takes place on Monday November 3 at the Museum of Liverpool, Pier Head, Liverpool.
Tickets are free but must be booked. For more visit www.liv.ac.uk/heseltine-institute/policy-provocations or call 0151 707 1243
Follow @livuniheseltine and join the debate on the night by using #policyprov
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