Breaking down Big Data

This article originally appeared in the Queen’s Gazette Online on Sept. 29, 2016.

Faculties come together to offer seven unique presentations on Big Data.

By Anne Craig, Communications Officer

As a part of the Queen’s University 175th anniversary celebrations, a cross-faculty group at Queen’s University are presenting Big Data 175 – a year-long exploration into the pros and cons of Big Data in fields such as health care, marketing and national security.

Big Data is large amounts of data that can be used to spot business trends, prevent diseases and combat crime, among other uses. These data sets are so large that traditional data processing applications are inadequate to deal with them. Security around Big Data is also a concern – an issue being addressed during the BD175 series.

“There are lots of great events happening around campus for the 175th, but I also saw an opportunity to create an event that was academic and involved all of the faculties,” says lead organizer David Lyon, director of the Surveillance Studies Centre. “We are exploring Big Data on a local scale, and around the world.”

BD175 is a series of seven events at Queen’s, each hosted by a different faculty or department. The series opens with What is Big Data and Why Does It Matter? presented by Paul Zikopoulos, vice-president of IBM’s Competitive and Big Data Analytics team. Mr. Zikopoulos is an award winning writer and speaker who has been consulted on Big Data by the television show 60 Minutes among many others.

The series celebrates Queen’s contributions to Big Data innovations and the event is accessible to students, faculty, staff and the wider Kingston community. External speakers, along with Queen’s professors and students, will define, describe and debate Big Data through lectures, seminars, panel discussions, video showings, film discussions, an art exhibit and other media.

“It’s energizing to meet with people from all over Queen’s and realize we have a common goal of presenting Big Data to the public,” says Dr. Lyon. “We are opening the black box of Big Data, exploring what’s being done with Big Data on campus, and arguing about the pros and cons of Big Data in fields from healthcare to marketing to national security and beyond.”

For more information, including up-to-date information on presentations and topics, visit the BD175 website.

Big Data Event Series
Tuesday, Oct. 4 – What is Big Data and Why Does It Matter?
Paul Zikopoulos, vice-president Big Data Analytics and Competitive, IBM
Goodes Hall Commons, 6:30 pm
Wednesday, Oct. 5 – Is Your Neighbour a Liberal or a Conservative? Voter Surveillance and the Data-Driven Election Campaign
Colin Bennett, University of Victoria
Ellis Hall, Room 226, 12:30 pm
Monday, Jan. 16 – Film screening and discussion event
The Screening Room, 6:45 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 7 – Big Data, Cyber Security and Healthcare
Denise Anthony, Dartmouth College
The School of Medicine Building, Room 132A, 6:30 pm
More details will be available closer to the event