On 13 December, 2017 we hosted the third workshop in the domain of Societal Challenge 1 (Health, Demographic Change and Wellbeing). This was also the final workshop of the Big Data Europe project, and our aim was to look back over everything we’d achieved not only in SC1, but in the BDE project as a whole.
16 people from a variety of backgrounds attended the workshop, including many participants from the European Commission, and three invited speakers who presented other ongoing and upcoming projects related to big data in the domain of health.
Following an introduction to Big Data Europe from Simon Scerri, Jonathan Langens presented a live demo of the BDE project’s Big Data Integrator. He showed participants the fundamentals of how the BDI makes it easier for big data users to build, set up, deploy and monitor projects, using the Stack Builder, Workflow Builder, and Swarm UI. Many resources such as manuals, webinars, screencasts, and template containers are also available to help reduce barriers to entry in big data across all domains and Societal Challenges.
Kiera McNeice then presented the SC1 pilot, which has replicated the functionality of the Open PHACTS Discovery Platform with open components in the BDE infrastructure. The Open PHACTS Discovery Platform provides an API for users to query multiple linked life science data sources, and answer real research questions more efficiently and cost-effectively, as well as making entirely new kinds of queries possible.
Our invited speakers then demonstrated three other European big data projects in the health domain.
Michaela Black presented MIDAS (Meaningful Integration of Data Analytics and Services), which aims to connect big data in health and present it to public health policy makers in accessible and useful ways; this will help inform better policy-making decisions at all levels across Europe. (slides)
Supriyo Chatterjea presented BigMedilytics, a broad consortium which aims to take a holistic view of healthcare in order to improve productivity in the healthcare sector by 20% by addressing the major themes of chronic disease, oncology, and industrialisation of healthcare. (slides)
Guillermo Palma presented iASiS, a project focussing on personalised medicine. The project aims to develop pilots in lung cancer and Alzheimer’s disease by connecting electronic health records, genomic data, bibliographic data, and public pharmacological databases, and is based on the BDE framework. (slides)
In the discussion that followed, several key questions and challenges were raised regarding big data in healthcare. In particular issues of privacy, ethics and consent wherever patients’ personal data are concerned came up repeatedly in the context of improving and personalising healthcare. The importance of linking data across different domains will also be crucial to improving health outcomes, as health depends on many factors beyond the individual, across many different Societal Challenges – for example infrastructure, food, environment, and more.
Building up trust among all stakeholders was thought to be crucial to addressing these concerns, as was finding win-win scenarios where all parties benefit from sharing data with each other. The need for “future-proofing” was also discussed – that is, ensuring users can be certain of ongoing support for any big data infrastructure.
As the Big Data Europe infrastructure and BDI are fully open and available for anyone to use, we hope that big data communities both in the health sector and across all the Societal Challenges will continue to use and adapt it to their own needs, building on the success of the BDE project. Big Data Europe has now come to a close, but we encourage everyone to learn more about the platform and start planning your big data project today!