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Data Ownership and Data Access? The German Data Forum celebrates 10 year anniversary with an event on big data

The German Data Forum dedicated its 10-year-anniversary event on 16 April 2015 to the issue of big data and its future relevance for research, policy, and society. About 200 guests debated the chances and risks created by the big data phenomenon. The German Data Forum decided to address the issue in greater detail during its subsequent meeting.

Following the short welcoming speeches by Regina T. Riphahn (chair of the German Data Forum), Ulrich Schüller (Federal Ministry for Education and Research), and Peter Farago (FORS –  Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences), Klaus Mainzer (TU Munich) took an in-depth look at the interdisciplinary significance of big data in his keynote lecture.

Mainzer underscored the importance of using new technologies for causal analysis, instead of mere correlation analysis, while not losing sight of the individual: the use and analysis of big data and any new data technology requires sharpening human judgement and raising awareness.

Then an interdisciplinary panel hosted by Ursula Weidenfeld discussed the potential and risks of big data for science: Claudia Eckert (Fraunhofer AISEC), Ernst Hafen (ETH Zürich), Klaus Mainzer (TU München), Wolfgang E. Nagel (ScaDS Dresden-Leipzig), Armin Nassehi (LMU München) und Peter Schaar (EAID). The debate focused on issues of data ownership of predominantly private companies and the ensuing problem of limited access to these data.

The event was a starting point for the German Data Forum to look more closely at big data and to contribute to enabling and stimulating scientific application of big data. During its following meeting on 17 April 2015, the German Data Forum decided to include big data access and quality assurance in its future activities. A first step will be to contact large data providers in order to explore ways of access and potential for analysis in the social, behavioural, and economic sciences.

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