Big Data Explored

Big Data Explored


Welcome to the Centre's blog 'Big Data Explored'. Here we publish opinion pieces and articles from our researchers and staff as well as from organisations and individuals we work with. Please email us if you'd like to contribute to our blog.
22 August, 2017

The Big Data concept of Modern Marketing

By Prince Kapoor (Digital Marketing Manager and Recruiter)

The age of Big Data is finally here, holding promises for a better world with better understanding and services for the customers.

21 August, 2017

The generic approach to Digital Maturity

By Richard Skeggs, Senior Research Data Manager at BLGDRC

Digital maturity is a measure of how well companies can identify how their digital assets can help them. The digital assets not only include the data held by the company but also covers the technological assets and staff.

26 July, 2017

Machine Learning in the World of Big Data

By Richard Skeggs, Senior Research Data Manager at BLGDRC

The concept of machine learning is becoming ever more important not just in the world of computer science but also in business. The explosion of data has given this technology a new lease of life and an impetus that is becoming difficult to ignore.

30 June, 2017
Padlock on keyboard

What does ICO’s recent update mean for Big Data?

By Richard Skeggs, Senior Data Manager at BLGDRC

The ICO (Information Commissioners Office) has recently updated its guidance on big data. The document includes a look at the implications that big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning have for data protection.

19 April, 2017

What’s the value of Artificial Synthetic Data?

By Richard Skeggs, Business Data Development Manager at BLGDRC

The MIT Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems has issued an interesting news release in which it advocates that artificial data can give the same results as real data without compromising privacy. Creating test data is nothing new, but actually making use of synthetic data is.

22 March, 2017

As care providers can’t afford to accept council contracts BLGDRC considers how data analytics could help to address the challenge

By Jim Vine, Researcher at BLGDRC

On Monday 20 March the BBC reported on the rates of contract cancellations, bankruptcies and risks of insolvencies amongst care providers. This inability to provide effective care was also the subject of Monday night’s episode of BBC Panorama and is a growing concern across the UK.

2 February, 2017

A review of ‘Empowering the Public Sector: Delving into data analytics’

By Ben Foster, Business Analyst at Norwich City Council

Since joining Norwich City Council as a business analyst in November 2015, the momentum behind increased data analytics and the ‘smart councils’ agenda has become more evident. Over the previous 12 months I have attended various events, including Nesta’s ‘Datavores’ agenda, which looks at ways the councils can take advantage of the vast swathes of data they hold.

26 January, 2017

What opportunities can Big Data offer to applied economists?

By Professor Vania Sena, Director of BLGDRC

Recently I was pleased to be invited as a keynote speaker to the SGPE conference at Crieff Hydro, Crieff, Perthshire. The SGPE is a joint collaboration between eight Scottish Universities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt, St Andrews, Stirling and Strathclyde) to provide Masters training to students. The conference is centred on training for both MSc and PhD students and it is an exciting time to bring them altogether.

24 January, 2017

How can the analysis of existing data improve care experiences for our most vulnerable children?

By Beth Neil, Researcher at BLGDRC

In a recent article on The Conversation, Louise Mc Grath-Lone, a PhD candidate at UCL, published results from a study of children leaving the care system. With colleagues she analysed administrative data from the Department for Education and found that one-third of children re-entered care within five years of leaving it. The study examined the factors which influence the likelihood of a child re-entering the care system.

9 January, 2017

The History of Big Data (A very short version)

By Holly Shea, Project Office Administrator at BLGDRC

The assumption of many is that ‘Big Data’ is a fairly new concept. The connotations that surround the word ‘data’ often lead many of us, including myself, to assume that this a modern phenomenon. Growing up in a digital era, I believed that such information and data could not possibly exist without the software or technology to store and harness it.

19 December, 2016
Facebook screen grab

The data disconnect between businesses and their consumers

By Professor Vania Sena, Director of BLGDRC

In September 2016 The Chartered Institute of Marketing published ‘Whose data is it anyway?’ a report into the use of data for marketing purposes. The most striking result to me was that 68% of consumers do not feel comfortable sharing data from their social media profile while 44% of marketers claim to collect data from social media. Also, just 8% of customers understand how and where organisations use their personal data.

13 December, 2016
Computer keyboard chained up

Big data: The privacy paradox

By Tom Howard, Project Manager at BLGDRC

There is a lot of hype about big data privacy. Equally there appear to be double standards exhibited by many of those expressing the most concerns. There is widespread concern about what global corporations and governments do with our data and whether our rights are adequately protected, and yet there is little focus on the trend in modern society to wilfully disclose seemingly everything about themselves. This is an example of the privacy paradox.

1 December, 2016
A figure showing the estimation strategy used in the study

Using Big Data to analyse the effect of Business Support on SMEs

By Fola Malomo, Research Fellow at BLGDRC

How do we get small and medium sized enterprises to grow? This question has bugged policy-wonks recently. Some people suggest that the growth and survival of start-ups is random. However, recent data on companies in the New Anglia area of Norfolk and Suffolk suggests otherwise. In this blog I’ll give you a preview of the results of a study we have carried out.

30 November, 2016
Computer with data on the screen

Big Data, Small Businesses

By Alexandra Beaumont, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at BLGDRC

Big Data are commonly underused in businesses, often due to the lack of internal skills required to manipulate the data acquired in the most beneficial way. This is a shame, as businesses can significantly benefit from using Big Data correctly. This blog post is being shared in the run up to Small Business Saturday and explores how small businesses can make the most of their data.

18 November, 2016

Creating a word cloud

By Richard Skeggs, Business Data Manager at BLGDRC

In my last blog post I referred to the use of a word cloud as a way of making data more visually appealing and ‘fun’. Today I’ll run through the process I use to generate word clouds and hopefully some of you will enjoy creating your own.

4 November, 2016

Making Data Fun

By Richard Skeggs, Business Data Manager at BLGDRC

The concept of big data can be daunting; all that data from untold sources in quantities that it’s often not possible to contemplate. Then you have to try to understand the story that the data is trying to tell you. This raises the questions:

What tools do we use to extract the data?

What methods do we use to understand the data?

27 October, 2016

A beginner’s guide to the benefits of Big Data

By Alexandra Beaumont, Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at BLGDRC

“Big Data” is a term which at one point meant absolutely nothing to me and I know that I am not alone. When I mention this phrase in my role I often receive very blank looks, but it’s not surprising that people are unaware of the concept of Big Data as it is not a term which is overly used in everyday life.

25 October, 2016

R versus Microsoft Excel

By Richard Skeggs, Business Data Manager at BLGDRC

Microsoft Excel is a widely used tool for the analysis of data but there are limitations on the size of data that can be processed and the flexibility of the spreadsheet package. In this blog post I’ll highlight some of the advantages of using the ‘R’ software package against Excel.

The key to R is the code which is a low level functional programming language. The language itself is quick to pick up and understand.

21 October, 2016

A review of Big Data in Business

By Professor Vania Sena, Director of BLGDRC

On Thursday 20 October the BLGDRC, alongside the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) and the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project (HRBDT), hosted the second of our Talk Big Data event series. We were delighted to be joined by Jasmine Birtles (Founder, Money Magpie), Helen Simpson (Professor, University of Bristol) and Ian Hutchinson (Lead Software Developer, Projects by IF).

17 October, 2016

Big Data in Rugby

By Richard Skeggs, Business Data Manager for BLGDRC

The use of data analytics in sports is not a new phenomenon, the Wisden Cricketers Almanac which was first published in 1864 is a great example of that. Formula 1 teams for a number of years have turned to high speed analytics of big data to try to achieve a competitive edge. Even the British Olympic Cycling team use data to analyse each turn of the pedal.