Big Data in an Urban Context: World Social Science Fellows’ seminar begins in Xiamen, China


19 World Social Science Fellows are meeting this week in Xiamen, China, to explore the impact of Big Data developments in an urban context. ‘Big Data’ , or extremely large data sets, gives us the power to gather and analyze information relating to the environment and human behaviour through the gathering of rich real-time data. Big data holds huge potential to uncover hitherto unseen patterns and better understand the processes of global change, from forecasting the weather to assessing energy use in our cities. However, there are considerable cultural, methodological, ethical and technical challenges for the social sciences. This landscape and the issues which derive from it are the focus of the World Social Science Fellows Seminar which begins today and runs until December 4 2015.

The World Social Science Fellows programme seeks to foster a new generation of globally-networked research leaders who will collaborate in addressing global problems with particular relevance for low and middle income countries. Fellows from a diverse range of disciplines participate in seminars to discuss and design interdisciplinary perspectives on priority topics. Fellows take the lead for most of the work and discussions at seminars; working with international leading specialists, policy makers, practitioners, activists, and other relevant stakeholders to enrich the reflections.

The Fellows programme is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the Government of Sweden. Individual seminars are implemented in collaboration with partner organisations. This seminar is organised by the ISSC in partnership with CODATA, an interdisciplinary Scientific Committee of the International Council for Science (ICSU), which works to improve the quality, reliability, management and accessibility of data of importance to all fields of science and technology. It is hosted by the International Council of Science International Programme Office on Urban Health and Wellbeing at the Institute of Urban Environment (IUE) in Xiamen, China.