Image from Science and Technology Committee
Mick gave oral evidence at the UK Parliament Science and Technology Select Committee for their inquiry into Social media data and real time analytics. He was doing this as Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds, representing the new Consumer Data Research Centre.
The University of Leeds had previously submitted written evidence. Key points were:
- Big Data and Social Media analysis will allow UK businesses and the Government to gain and maintain an edge in understanding and responding to consumer and citizen demands. Social Media data provides individual and attitudinal understanding, complementing but not replacing formal, census-type data sets.
- Social Media represents a positive opportunity for Government to communicate and inform, including in cases of public emergency and safety.
- More can be done to encourage broad, public understanding of the positive benefits of data analytics.
- Government investment is needed to overcome a dearth of training, providing direction in educational programmes which emphasizes the combination of data analytics with business skills. The new discipline of Data Science needs to be embraced and taught – “part analyst, part artist” with social and business contextual understanding, rather than just a pure technology focus.
- Ethical concerns are real, and include the gaining of informed consent, security, and use of the data in the public interest.
As background, the Science and Technology Committee exists to ensure that Government policy and decision-making are based on good scientific and engineering advice and evidence. It is unusual amongst departmental select committees in that it scrutinises the Government Office for Science, which is a “semi-autonomous organisation” based within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
The panel, on June 18th, was focused on how social media data and the use of real-time analytics could improve governance and social provision. The previous panel focused on how economic benefits might be realised through the use of social media data and real-time analytics.
Timo Hannay, Managing Director, Digital Science
Carl Miller, Research Director, Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, Demos
Sureyya Cansoy, Director, Tech for Business and Consumer Programmes, techUK
Professor John Preston, Professor of Education, University of East London
Professor Mick Yates, Visiting Professor, Consumer Data Research Centre, University of Leeds
Dr Ella McPherson, Research Fellow, University of Cambridge
All proceedings are recorded and quickly made available to the public.
Here is the video of the June 18th session. The second panel, with Prof. Preston, Dr. McPherson and Mick starts at 10:35 in the video.