Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor
image

The Productivity Commission is running an inquiry into whether the government can provide better access to the data it collects for universities and other groups.

Commercial and public sector innovation alike can benefit from a better policy framework for data collection and publication.

If access to datasets and the expertise to design, implement and extract information matter to business and government, this will also inform new research.

Australia requires serious investment in this domain.

We need only look to the achievements of nations such as Sweden and Canada as international leaders in providing multi-generational longitudinal datasets.

Big data is not sufficient; researchers require rich data, able to inform complex logical deductions from large population samples.

The difference between “big” and “rich” data is more than semantic. Not all data can be mined reliably. Educating those who collect data about quality, storage and integrity issues is important if the nation is to benefit from the opportunities.

Academics too have an interest in data that can be interrogated, and consequently in important issues about privacy and fair use of public information. There are serious questions already to debate about integrity of government data.

Why big data is a big deal

Data is a big deal and will be the main focus for many tech companies in 2016.

Thanks to large storage capability through cloud computing, companies have amassed vast amounts of information on consumers, on peak electricity demand, on water flows, on every imaginable subject. The race is now to find ways to mine those bits for commercial advantage.

This year the hottest career prospects in Silicon Valley are for quants – for mathematical majors, engineers, those with the expertise to extract trends and package new opportunities. The international delegations each return home determined to lift enrolments in the quantitative sciences, sensing the shift in priorities for leading-edge companies.

The logic is simple. LinkedIn has millions of curriculum vitae from around the world online. It can track career trends, emerging professions and areas of shortage, covering both the superficial and the profound in job markets. The better the platform’s global coverage, the more opportunity to extract and sell data.

Likewise, companies supporting massive online open courses know more than anyone about student habits, interests and capabilities across the globe. In the inevitable move from free uncredited courses to full curriculum delivery online, they are uniquely placed to shape the emerging market.

Not all applications are commercial. In the public realm, the availability of data can improve markedly the quality of service delivery. A health system with integrated electronic medical records can spot early trends in infection, institute preventative programs and move health professionals to cover gaps.

So quants will be equally in demand by governments. Their ability to make a difference will be influenced, in turn, by the reliability and accessibility of data held by public agencies.

Job opportunities

The expertise required for big data will need many new graduates from data and analytics-based curricula. It will also require collaborative research on a large scale, and so create a new field for universities to work closely with business and government agencies.

To be effective, such collaborative research rests on common standards, shared access and interaction among policy advisers seeking to understand a problem and academic researchers keen to apply and improve data sets.

We can see already the power of big data in policy questions. The Melbourne Institute administers the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, one of the peak annual instruments for assessing the economic and subjective wellbeing of Australians.

The data collected provide insights on community views on everything from our desire for children to how green spaces, physical activity and urban density in our major cities can affect personal wellbeing.

Last year Professor Philip Clarke used data collected by the Department of Veterans Affairs to look at the disability claims of Vietnam veterans. His research provides one of the first clear pictures of when, how and why veterans seek support. Such analysis can enable new or improved pathways to better public services.

Productivity Commission inquiries do not always attract strong public engagement, but this is a review worth attention.

Improving data quality and accessibility will provide an important platform for Australian business, policy innovation and academic research. It ensures the world experienced in Silicon Valley is not so remote from our shores, not so advanced we can never participate in what already makes up the vast troves of big data.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/investing-in-big-data-could-improve-research-quality-in-australia-57492

What's in a name? Well, quite a bit if your name is Karen (or Jack, John, Jeff, Dolly, Biddy, Meg ...)

arrow_forward

Don't know what day it is or who said what at the last meeting? Blame the coronavirus

arrow_forward

Secondary school textbooks teach our kids the myth that Aboriginal Australians were nomadic hunter-gatherers

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Tracy Grimshaw

TRACY GRIMSHAW: Prime Minister, thank you for your time.    PRIME MINISTER: Great to be here. Thank you for the opportunity.    GRIMSHAW: A month or so ago, you probably thought that today's...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Instant Steel Solutions Review

Are you keen on having the right guidance, knowledge and information about the right kind of steel purchases for your industries? If yes, then you are in the right place. There is no doubt that ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Everything You Need To Know About Waste Removal Services 

Waste is capable of posing threats to the environment and general public health. So, if you want to live a healthy life, you need to take care of your waste products. Proper collection and dispo...

News Company - avatar News Company

How Forklift Rental Can Assist During Unexpected Upturns

Although some companies might balk at the prospect of hiring a forklift for the work they need to get done rather than buying it, hiring a forklift can fill a very specific need: being able to m...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion