British academy


Speed Data-ing: The Effects of the Rapid Rise of the Data Society

Wednesday 1 December 2010, 6.30-8.00pm, followed by a drinks reception
The Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1

Panel Discussion jointly hosted by the British Academy and the Royal Statistical Society

Is the public’s date with data heading for disaster, or could it be a match made in heaven? We are living in an increasingly data-dependent society in which it is impossible not to engage with data. Nearly all of us are accustomed to the retail and banking sectors collecting data on the public for marketing purposes. Increasing numbers of us are just as accustomed to similar collection by social networking sites. Equally familiar is central and local government collecting data on the public in relation to areas such as crime, transport, health to inform their strategic planning and policymaking. What are the threats and benefits attached to this growing dissemination of data?

New developments are about to transform our relationship with data. Impressive new media and government-initiated visualisation tools and exploratory data sites have placed statistical data in the public domain for the public’s information and use. These new initiatives are intended to benefit the public as consumers of services and products, and as citizens – householders, parents and people with ‘lives to manage and decisions to make’.

The event looks at the opportunities and threats of opening up more and more data to the public, and the impact on individual liberty. Will the newly available data enable us to gain a better understanding of the society we live in? Will it make our lives easier? How can statistical know-how and skills help us gain maximum benefit from these new resources? Where, in short, is the new data society leading us?

The panel:

Chair: Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy

Professor David Hand FBA, Professor of Statistics, Imperial College, author of ‘Information Generation: how data rules our world’

Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk, University of Cambridge

Simon Rogers, Editor, Guardian Datablog and Datastore