Where should government start with Big Data?

Written by Eddie Copeland on . Posted in Opinion

Where a complaint comes from.
The value of the property.
The building’s square footage.
The age of the building.
The timeliness of its tax records.
Whether its utility bills are in arrears.

Taken together - with some clever maths applied - these are the predictive indicators for identifying some of the most dangerous buildings in New York City.

Reflections on my time training journalists in science and statistical reporting

Written by Deirdre Toher on . Posted in Opinion

As much as we may complain about obvious errors in interpretation of statistics in the media, we must recognise that many journalists have very limited training in statistics. In the UK media, often they have not done any statistics since they left the GCSE exam hall. It would be more helpful in the long term to support them, rather than always criticising them.

The impact of REF on publication bias

Written by Mark Kelson on . Posted in Opinion

There is no shortage of academics complaining about the detrimental impact of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) on scientific integrity and freedom. Similarly, the undesirability of publication bias is a well-trodden trope among academic circles. With REF results for 2014 due out tomorrow, I want to look at how this influential research audit affects scientific research.

How statistics reveal insights from the past by turning life events into data points

Written by Adam Crymble on . Posted in Opinion

Family history giant Ancestry.com claims to have digitised 12.7 billion records that document an element of millions if not billions of individual lives. Maybe a marriage, or a birth, or an arrest, or a discharge from the military. These are what historians call ‘life events’. Unless you’re related to one of these people, or the person happens to be a notable figure, chances are you wouldn’t care about them all that much. You don’t have to feel bad - our collective descendants won’t care about us either.

Why the EU’s data protection law needs to support the use of personal data in research

Written by Beth Thompson on . Posted in Opinion

The Data Protection Regulation is currently making its way through the European legislative process. Once agreed, this will govern how we use the personal data in statistics and research that holds such huge potential to help us understand society, inform policies, and develop interventions to improve our lives. It is important that the controls on the use of personal data enable society to enjoy these benefits, while ensuring that an individual’s data are kept safe and used appropriately.