Big Data for Good. A distinguished panel of experts discuss how Big Data can be used to create Social Capital

by Roberto V. Zicari, Editor

June 5, 2012.

Abstract: Every day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. This data comes from digital pictures, videos, posts to social media sites, intelligent sensors, purchase transaction records, cell phone GPS signals to name a few. This is Big Data. There is a great interest both in the commercial and in the research communities around Big Data. It has been predicted that “analyzing Big Data will become a key basis of competition, underpinning new waves of productivity growth, innovation, and consumer surplus”, according to research by MGI and McKinsey’s Business Technology Office.
But very few people seem to look at how Big Data can be used for solving social problems. Most of the work in fact is not in this direction. Why this? What can be done in the international research community to make sure that some of the most brilliant ideas do have an impact also for social issues?
I have invited a panel of distinguished well known researchers and professionals to discuss this issue. The list of panelists include:
– Roger Barga, Microsoft Research, group lead eXtreme Computing Group, USA
– Laura Haas, IBM Fellow and Director Institute for Massive Data, Analytics and Modeling IBM Research, USA
– Alon Halevy, Google Research, Head of the Structured Data Group, USA
– Paul Miller, Consultant, Cloud of Data, UK
This Q&A panel focuses exactly at this question: is it possible to conduct research for a corporation and/or a research lab, and at the same time make sure that the potential output of our research has also a social impact?
We take Big Data as a key example. Big Data is clearly of interest to marketers and enterprises a like who wish to offer their customers better services and better quality products. Ultimately their goal is to sell their products/services.
This is good, but how about digging into Big Data to help people in need? Preventing / predicting natural catastrophes, helping offering services “targeting” to people and structures in social need?
Hope you`ll find this interview interesting, as well as eye-opening. RVZ


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