Research institutions take big data projects to next level

Written by Web News Editor on . Posted in News

Academia is grappling with the new challenges surrounding big data with a number of new initiatives in academic research in this area.

A new hub specifically focused on the newly emerging 'Internet of Things'; a doctoral training centre for dealing with new forms of data; and the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's new centre for big data; have all marked significant progress this week with a series of announcements.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has just launched a call for universities to become part of a £10m research hub for the internet of things. Otherwise known as IoT, the internet of things refers to the network of electronic and digital devices that generate data and can interact over the internet. The new research hub will explore the interdisciplinary challenges that the IoT presents in terms of security, privacy, policy and governance, beliefs and behaviours between people.

Meanwhile, it’s been announced that one of the Economic and Social Research Council’s new centres of doctoral training (CDTs) will be in New Forms of Data. This CDT will focus on potential uses of new forms of data (qualitative and quantitative) such as social media and other online interactions (including data gathered by mobile devices and the ‘internet of things’), GPS/geolocation data, traffic data, CCTV satellite and aerial imagery (including Google Earth). Areas of research include looking at near real-time analysis and the potential for linkage and interoperability of data from different sources, along with the prospect of studying social processes as they unfold. A workshop is planned this summer to bring together potential academic applicants with non-academic partners - details will be announced in due course.

Finally, further details for the £42 million big data initiative, the Alan Turing Institute, have been finalised with the announcement of Howard Covington as its inaugural chair. Covington, who has a background in finance as chief executive of New Star Asset Management, was also the first non-academic chairman of the management committee of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences at Cambridge, where he was made an honorary fellow in 2011 for services to mathematical sciences. It’s hoped the institute, which is a joint venture between the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Oxford, Warwick, UCL and EPSRC, will position the UK as a world leader in the analysis and application of big data and algorithm research.

Big Data Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Alan Turing Institute

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