Don’t be afraid of big data

European Commission bets on data-driven economy

images-Ceeds image

Information can be scary, and even more so when we find ourselves humbled by its immensity. In a press release issued earlier this week, the European Commission has once again demonstrated that it is not afraid of big data. Quite the opposite, Europe is more than ever ready to embrace it – a gesture, which is reflected in Europe’s strong bet on research projects like CEEDs, which uses big data to enhance human cognition and improve problem solving.

In a previous post, we already discussed CEEDs and the eXperience Induction Machine (XIM), the heart of the project, located in the SPECS lab at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. The press release singles out CEEDs as an example of successful and highly promising big data research initiative.

Although XIM has so far mainly been applied to visualising brain (BrainX3) and historical (Bergen-Belsen reconstruction) data and will certainly bring about a huge qualitative change in how scientists work with tremendous amounts of information, the integration of this technology into more down-to-earth application fields seems imminent.

The press release reports that early interest in the XIM technology is already coming from several museums in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and the United States, where it could potentially help with gathering and reacting to feedback from visitors. This naturally applies to many other public spaces such as shops, libraries and concerts. The CEEDs team is also conducting negotiations with several public, charity and commercial organisations to further extend the scope of application of the platform.

The CEEDs project coordinator Jonathan Freeman, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London pointed out that “anywhere where there’s a wealth of data that either requires a lot of time or an incredible effort, there is potential.” In science, whole disciplines, from satellite imagery inspection to oil prospecting and astronomy, could benefit immensely from this novel approach to processing information.

With projects like CEEDs, Europe is working its way towards a new data-driven economy, a long-time goal, which the European Commission is now actively promoting across national governments. The European approach towards big data is perhaps best expressed in the words of the vice-president of the European Commission Neelie Kroes: “Big data doesn’t have to be scary. Projects like this enable us to take control of data and deal with it so we can get to solving problems. Leaders need to embrace big data.”

You can also read this article to learn about some other exciting big data projects backed by the European Commission.


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