UK.gov: Are we talking about Big Data enough? Should we plug it more?

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The UK government's Science and Technology Committee has today opened an inquiry tasked with "examining the opportunities and risks of big data."

The inquiry will look at whether the government is doing enough to promote the tech to Blighty's entrepreneurs, as well as issues around data protection and privacy.

Nicola Blackwood MP, chair of Parliament's Science & Technology Committee, claimed many people are currently enjoying the benefits of big data, "like quicker, more personalised digital services", but are often concerned about the way their personal data is used.

“This inquiry will be weighing up how we can open up opportunities in big data for entrepreneurs, while ensuring that consumers feel their private data is protected," she said.

"Questions remain about how companies obtain consent for the use of personal data and whether the governance of our new information economy is keeping pace with the technology," she added.

Big data is an umbrella term used by various marketing departments to flog a whole variety of products.

Some technologies such as the NoSQL MongoDB database are doing well, while the batch processing framework Hadoop is struggling despite lots of marketing hype.

It's unclear exactly what definition of "big data" Whitehall is using and whether it is something entrepreneurs really need the government to promote.

In 2013, the government declared big data as one of its eight ‘great technologies’. The other included satellites, robotics, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, agri-science, advanced materials and energy storage. ®

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