Connected Nation - Pitch: Neo-demographics - James Goulding, University of Nottingham

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How can you analyse data that doesn't currently exist? The Neo-demographics project uses big data analytics to investigate how UK business can better interact with new markets in the developing world via novel forms of geo-demographic intelligence, from transport planning to disaster management in countries such as Tanzania.

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James Goulding, University of Nottingham

Hi there, I’m James Goulding from the University of Nottingham and I'm representing the Neo-Demographics project. So we're a big data project and I know you’ve already been jaded by big data but hear me out on this one. So we are looking at new ways characterizing human behaviour from mass data sets, and it kind of stems from the way we’ve coloured the world in the past; age, gender, demographics, social; they may have applied once but in the modern day world they are probably not the best ways to inform business decisions and social policy.

So we are working with big companies, people like Boost, Tesco's, 711, Marks and Spencer’s, looking at new ways of characterizing behaviour by analysing the data sets and machine learning and seeing how they apply in the real world. So that’s how the project started but we also work a lot in the developing economies of the world, so we're also looking at China and Malaysia and East Africa, and this is where the project has taken an interesting turn.

So we find in places like East Africa, even though they’re infrastructurally poor, they're actually very data-rich. Everyone has a mobile phone, so there’s lots of information in there in private sector silos that has not been used for social policy or business decisions out in the real world. So in places like Dar es Salaam, there are between five and seven million people, they're not entirely sure, but the mobile phone companies they do know. So we’re working with those sort of companies to find new insight into those regions. For example, we've contributed to flood resilience by finding behavioural indicators which are there in the dataset that can help inform early warning systems.

Some of the maps which helped to produce have been used in treating cholera outbreaks quite recently, and I think what we've come to you about, and what I’d like to talk to you about in the demo area, is that this private sector data can be used for social good and it's about building the relationships with companies. So come and talk to us about that sort of thing, we have a cool visualization called the palm system demonstrating the stories you can tell with these sort of data streams, and we’re happy to talk about the project there. OK, thank you very much.