1 Big Data, Official Statistics and Social Science Research: Emerging Data Challenges Professor Paul Cheung Director, United Nations Statistics Division
2 Building the Global Information System Elements of a Global Information System: Common Standard, Data Exchange Protocol, Quality Assurance Mechanism, Universal Dissemination Platform, Global Governance Arrangement; Working with National Statistical Offices to evolve a global statistical system -- Many achievements over 65 years; Now working with National Geospatial Information Authorities to evolve a global geospatial information platform with common practices and standards; Imperative to bring these two communities, and other data communities, together to advance an integrated system.
3 Big Data: A BIG Deal? Google search trend big data official statistics Source: Google Trends (as of 18 December 2012)
4 What is Big Data? No fixed definition, still debated Unstructured, Unregulated Four Vs: Volume: from Terabyte to Geopbyte Velocity: high speed of data in and out Variety: different formats, integration difficult Variability: data flows highly inconsistent Complexity: requires data cleansing, linking, and matching the data across systems
5 Multiple Sources of Data Social Everything! Networking Commenting Internet uses Online searches Online page-view Administrative Hospital visits Sales receipts Traffic monitoring Commercial Cell phone usages Credit card transactions Insurance records Product searches Health information Electronic medical records Medical monitoring Satellite imagery Monitoring systems
6 Google: Predicting the Present Source: Predicting the Present with Google Trends, Choi & Varian, April 2009
7 Hedonometrics and Twitter Source: Temporal Patterns of Happiness and Information in a Global Social Network: Hedonometrics and Twitter, Dodds et. al., 2011
8 National Mood (UK) and Twitter 25 16/11 04/ Normalized mood scores for JOY, SADNESS, ANGER and FEAR Source: Mood of Nation [Beta] (
9 Over 1,000,000 outpatient visits per year by MHC Asia Source: A. ONE THOUSAND CLINICS in Singapore B. Adopted by 90% of insurers in Singapore C. Linked by Web & Smartphone Apps D. Smartphone Apps Virtual membership card & clinic locator 1. Reports- Diagnosis, Financial & Statistical Data 2. Disease pattern & management 3. Infectious Disease Alert 4. Cost Control 5. Drugs usage data lead to bulk purchase 6. Sick Leave control 7. Audit & Frauds detection 8. Alerts (High Claim,Sick Leave Alert)
12 Big Data : Everywhere, Anywhere The amount of data grows rapidly (approximately 2.5 quintillion bytes created per day) Everything will be, in some sense, a geospatial beacon, referencing to or generating location information A hyper-connected environment-estimates suggest over 50 billion things connected by 2020.
13 Real-time Tracking of Population Movement Regular July 4 Macy s firework Hypothetical data
14 Big Data Are they Really Useful? A lot of hype, but used mainly in commercial and security applications Research and development work are ongoing with great potential Commercial applications developing the fastest Detecting fraud / Risk Generating consumer profile Reducing medical care cost Changing travelling and consumption patterns
15 New Data, New Methods Data deluge makes scientific methods obsolete?? Official statistics depends on classical statistical methods?? Are social science data models and methods obsolete??
16 Big Data vs Official Statistics Official Statistics are Structured Data with Unique Identity Population Characteristics Company Profits/Losses Population Census Survey of Companies Census Questionnaire Company Balance Sheet Statistical Analysis Statistical Analysis
17 Big Data and Social Sciences Research
18 Statistical vs Structural Inference
19 Incorporating Big Data in Official Statistics Could Big Data replace traditional data sources? Not reliable source at this moment Limitations (non-representativeness, unreliability) Important as collaborating evidence Huge potential: faster, cheaper data New data sources could replace traditional sources? Data-mining with multiple sources of data for new insights
20 Improving Data Sources in Official Statistics A lot of work has been done in official statistics: Common Standard, Data Exchange Protocol, Quality Assurance Mechanism, Universal Dissemination Platform New emphasis in Data Sources Multi-mode data collection Internet based surveys Administrative sources Too much emphasis on surveys and traditional approaches Imperative to review appropriateness of Big Data to assess fit for purpose of official statistics.
21 University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index: Google Prediction Consumer Sentiment Index Current Economic Condition Index Consumer Expectations Index Source: Consumer Sentiment with Google Trends, Choi, Google Inc. Conference on Empirical Macroeconomics Using Geographical Data, March 2011
23 Google Trend and Unemployment Rate Source: Consumer Sentiment with Google Trends, Choi, Google Inc. Conference on Empirical Macroeconomics Using Geographical Data, March 2011
24 Predicting Insurance Claims Initial claim of Unemployment Insurance Google search unemployment+social security+welfare
25 The Billion Prices MIT Pricing Behavior: What drives price stickiness around the world? How much can be explained by current inflation, and inflation histories? How much by competition and industries structure? Daily Inflation and Asset Prices: Construct daily inflation indexes across countries and sectors and study their ability to match official statistics. Pass-Through: How much do prices adjust internally when the exchange rate, or the international price of commodities change? Markups: What premium is paid in stores for green or organic products? With data from multinational retailers, compute premium differences -for exactly the same items- in different places. The Billion Prices MIT,
26 Argentina Aggregate Inflation Series Source:
27 Mobile Phone Positioning Data for Tourism Statistics Source: Mobile Telephones and Mobile Positioning data as source for statistics: Estonian Experiences, Ahas et. Al. (2011)
28 Source: Intuit Small Business Employment Indexes
29 Big Data as Data Source for Research Traditional Data on Social Network Big Data on Social Network Snow-ball approach, from person to person, rich information on inter-personal relations Large number of people and connections Source: Reality Mining,
30 Real-time Community Crime Data Source:
31 Big Data and Representativeness What is the population? Who generates the data? Can we draw a sample and infer population traits? Patterns may reflect what is happening but the reference population is not clear Inferential Statistics not possible; hence the use of non-parametric analytics
32 Big Data: Who Generates the Data? Representative? Demographics of Twitter Users Source: The State of Twitter 2012 [STATS], 3 August 2012
33 Big Data and Social Reality Does Big Data reflect social reality Do the data reveal random or real patterns? Are the data representative? What is the real meaning of the data? Do the data reflect social patterns or structures? An example: Social network study Articulated social networks list of friends on Facebook Behavioural network communication patterns and cell coordinates
34 Big Data and Verifiability Can the data be verified and re-tested? Many big data are considered private, not available to larger academic community for repeated analysis Equal data access needed for Making scientific replication studies Preventing fraudulent publications
36 New types of research data about human behavior and society pose many opportunities if crucial infrastructural challenges are tackled. G King Science 2011;331:
37 Using Big Data in Social Science New Tools and Procedures required for: Data preparation/cleaning Data reduction Data mining Searching for patterns and/or relationships Building the best model Apllying the best model to a new dataset to classify or estimate (machine learning) How/what to teach the machine?
38 Big Data and Computational Challenge Computational challenge Generating manageable structured data from unstructured data Integrating big data processing with statistical analysis tools
39 Learning to Use Big Data Training required Nonstandard data types Computational methods Protection of data confidentiality Legal protocols Data sharing norms Statistical tools
40 The Way Forward Big Data will become more prominent in years to come. Statisticians and Social Scientists should take advantage of new data source. Computation and quantitative analytical skills become important. Data must generate insights and knowledge: This is the ultimate goal. We must decipher truth vs falsehood.
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