Big Data Urban Context


Sometimes erroneously considered a challenge first and foremost for computational sciences, Big Data developments have a far wider reaching impact. Much of the initial excitement relates to data about human interactions of various sorts. ‘Big Data’ gives us the power to gather and analyse data relating to the environment and to human interactions and offers the prospect of a far improved understanding of sustainable development, through the gathering of rich real time data on human interactions.

Exploring these data and applying the new techniques of ‘data science’ is essential if we are to address the major, fundamentally interdisciplinary, scientific and social grand challenges emerging from the changing planetary environment. Nevertheless, there are considerable cultural, methodological, ethical and technical challenges for the social sciences. This landscape and the issues which derive from it will be the focus of a World Social Science Fellows Seminar.

The seminar was held from 30 November- 4 December 2015 in Xiamen, China. It was 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. The seminar was 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.

Fellow Norma Padron reports on her experiences in a blog for the New York Academy of Medicine.