The future of text and data mining in Europe
Journals, databases, blogs and so much more. A lot of fresh insight can be derived from the vast amounts of information generated today, and powerful text and data mining tools are available to researchers and businesses striving to do so. An EU-funded project has identified ways to boost the uptake of this technology.
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Updated on 3 July 2019
What could be done to help text and data mining (TDM) truly take off in Europe? The FUTURETDM project, which focused on this question, presented its conclusions in the form of a roadmap. It also set up an online platform with a wealth of information for prospective and more experienced users of these tools and techniques.
TDM is a powerful source of business intelligence, such as details on emerging trends and consumer behaviour. It also facilitates research in many areas, enabling scientists to rapidly extract facts from big data and generating valuable leads for further investigation.
To provide a few examples of possible applications, FUTURETDM project coordinator Peter Leitner of Austrian R&I company SYNYO points to the area of medical research. TDM can be used to tackle challenges as varied as identifying the mosquito species spreading the ZIKA virus, helping to pre-empt patient exposure to harmful combinations of prescription drugs, and improving the design of clinical trials, he notes.
A fact-finding mission
Research has now reached a phase where we are analysing the huge amounts of input collected in recent decades, says Leitner. We need tools and techniques that enable us to find and process the relevant information without massive investments in terms of time and effort.
TDM is designed to meet this need. It is potentially useful in any area where large volumes of information are available, both to retrieve the relevant input and put it to good use, Leitner explains.
With data analytics, data mining and data processing, it is always possible to come up with predictions, he says. And if you have a huge amount of data, you can derive new models, for example, and find solutions to problems that could not be tackled in this way before, simply because we didnt have these technical possibilities.
The way forward
TDM has been adopted with enthusiasm in many parts of the world. Europe, in contrast, has not yet fully seized the opportunities it offers.
The project team attributes this reticence primarily to the complex legal aspects associated with the use of TDM. Difficulties notably arise from unclear, unfavourable or nationally diverging copyright and data privacy rules, the researchers note.
These issues exemplify the three main barriers holding back TDM in Europe, according to the teams findings: uncertainty, fragmentation and restrictiveness. Action to stimulate the uptake of TDM must strive to tackle these key issues, according to the project partners. More specifically, they are calling on stakeholders to embrace three guiding principles: clarification and awareness of the rules, the elimination of boundaries wherever appropriate, and equitable access to TDM tools, technologies and sources. The researchers recommendations for action at EU level are presented in a detailed roadmap.
FUTURETDM ended in August 2017, but the platform set up by the consortium remains online as a resource for stakeholders, says Leitner.
There are many different views on the topic, he adds. We have aimed to gather these voices, in particular from the research community and SMEs.
It is important to keep the dialogue alive as compromises will have to be found, says Leitner. Failure to do so, he adds, could place EU research at a disadvantage.
And the EU economy might miss out on substantial benefits. By 2020, the project team notes, TDM could potentially produce an impact approximating EUR 93 billion.