The session was organized by Carola Carstens, Project Officer in the unit Data Value Chain at the European Commission. Dr Andreas Goerdeler,, Deputy Director General for “Information Society, Media” at the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, was the session Chair.
Dr Andreas Goerdeler opened the session and welcomed the European Commissioner and Vice-President Neelie Kroes who gave a speech on big data. She stated that digital content can serve the needs of every European and that she would today like to talk about big data in particular. She explained that we are in the era of big data and that we have a lot of data at our disposal that can be managed, manipulated and used like never before thanks to high-performance digital tools, making big data the fuel for innovation. Mrs Kroes also addressed privacy concerns related to big data, and she made clear that mastering big data also means mastering privacy. For example, digital tools can help people to take control of their data so that they trust these technologies. Mrs Kroes stressed again that privacy is essential, but that big data also constitutes a huge opportunity, offering businesses in many sectors a productivity boost.
However, she explained that there is no coherent data ecosystem in Europe.
This fragmentation concerns sectors, languages, as well as differences in laws and policy practices between EU countries. Mrs Kroes stated that even data research is highly fragmented so there is a need to increase the networking. Moreover, she explained that a lot of institutions do not fully benefit from their own data or that from others. For these reasons, Mrs Kroes called for a European public private partnership in big data that brings together players like software developers, data intensive sectors and venture capitalists to support new research and innovation and make Europe more competitive.
The Chair Dr Goerdeler encouraged the audience to also support the big data value manifesto initiated by the European Technology Platform NESSI that calls for engaging the private and public sectors to exploit the socio-economic potential of Big Data. Moreover, Dr Goerdeler addressed three main messages. The first one was that big data is an important trend, due to the expected further data growth. Another message was that we need more systems competence to build reliable and trustworthy data infrastructure while the tools for big data should at the same time be easy to use. Finally, Dr Goerdeler stressed that we should cooperate intensively on the European level to provide the relevant infrastructures and that platforms are needed that allow SMEs to benefit from data analytics. After this topical introduction, Dr Goerdeler introduced the three speakers.
Francine Bennett is a data scientist, CEO and co-founder of Mastodon C whose slogan is "Big Data Done Better". Mrs Bennett spent a number of years before that working on search engines, helping them to turn data into money. She stated that the main challenge is the mess of the data, so that it is very hard to organise it. This encouraged the company to apply new technologies and platforms like Hadoop. Mrs Bennett stressed that the existence of powerful open source data technologies and the availability of cheap and flexible cloud servers makes it easy to start using big data. One of the examples for big data she presented was about retrofitting homes in the UK by setting up a set of sensors and analyzing the resulting sensor data to save energy. Mrs Bennett also gave examples of challenges the company had to deal with in this context like the fact that people changed their behavior when the testing programs were connected to their houses.
Peter Meier is CTO of one of the leading augmented reality companies in the world. He raised the question how to use the huge amount of data and make it visible to everyone who has a smart phone, and also attach this data to location objects. He showed an example of using augmented reality technologies for showing the user the way in the street by means of walking penguins which are augmented to the screen. Another example served to show citizens how a new building would look like so that they can give feedback and opinions. Mr Meier concluded by stating that technology is in Europe, but that we as Europeans should be more eager to also deploy and introduce innovative solutions.
Dr Graham Thomas leads the section Immersive & Interactive Content at BBC R&D, developing new technology for media production, with a focus on computer vision and image processing. He holds over 20 patents.
In his speech, Dr Thomas suggested that future high-quality video could be used to deeper immerse the user in the content. A panoramic high-quality video would give the user a chance to interactively zoom in a particular area of interest on the screen. In addition, Dr Thomas talked about new technologies like Oculus Rift (a virtual reality headset for 3D gaming) compared with panoramic video that would deliver users the experience as if they were at the scene of filming. Peripheral projectors combined with conventional TVs could deliver a more realistic feeling to the user at a lower cost. Another important technology - content marking - was discussed in the session. It would not only supply additional information to the user but could also help visually impaired people to highlight the important details on the screen, for example in a football match. In his summary, Dr Thomas stated that a key feature of these emerging technologies is giving the power to the users to experience and explore the content.
To summarise, we learnt from the presented examples that big data and creative industries have big innovation potential. These will be major drivers that will transform the 21st century and improve economy as well as society.
Session Reporters: Linas Gelazanskas(Lancaster University), Sonya Abbas (DERI-NUIG).