One of the seven societal challenges as identified by Horizon2020 is “Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies”.
CESSDA is the European network and multiplier organisation in the project for the social science domain and will publish a series of blog posts on the challenges and opportunities of big data for the social sciences.
The primary goal of data research in social sciences is to facilitate more and wider use of high quality microdata in social, economic and political research and in turn, their ability to improve our understanding of ongoing societal processes, the problems involved and the solutions available.
The vast majority of questions raised in these fields cannot be dealt with adequately without the availability of and easy access to data, particularly statistical microdata. The data should ideally be as rich as possible in order to enable in-depth analyses of social processes which only can be carried out if data are available at the level of individuals. Such data (from social networks, tracking devices, transaction records, customer databases etc. and often referred to as Big Data given their volume) have significant research potential, but their use at national levels and for comparative cross-national analysis is currently limited by concerns about access, completeness, quality, comparability, commercial applications, confidentiality, security, plus the sheer scale and complexity of the undertaking.
Currently, access to big data technologies is the exclusive preserve of large companies that can hire specialists familiar with the acquisition, storage, analysis, curation and usage of Big Data. The results of the Big Data Europe project will be to enable SMEs, startups and NGOs to easily deploy and use Big Data technologies in a manner tailored to their needs.
We will design a Big Data Interest Group for the social sciences and ensure that we outreach and engage with all relevant stakeholders in this domain in Europe, using the W3C Community infrastructure.
We will hold three annual workshops and the first one takes place on 18 November 2015 in Luxembourg and will introduce the background, cover the main challenges, and seek real examples of the potential, challenges and complexities of using big data in our societies. The results will be used to design a new big data platform delivered by the BigDataEurope project. As a recognised stakeholder in this sector, participants in the project will have the opportunity to influence the design, and ultimately benefit from the platform that the project aims to deliver.
We are also organising an online “hang-out” on the risks and challenges of successful data management in the Social Sciences and Humanities on Tuesday 13 October from 14:00 to 15:00.
BDE on CESSDA website: http://cessda.net/CESSDA-Services/Projects/Big-Data-Europe