måndag 4 januari 2016

The UK big data project playing Moneyball to build smarter cities

Big Bang Data exhibition
 The Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House in London.
Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
The Future Cities Catapult aims to improve policymaking – be it for better flood defences, banking or medicine.

When London’s Soho was hit by a cholera outbreak in the summer of 1854 it took a maverick to pinpoint the cause and come up with a way to contain it.

Doctor John Snow rejected the established belief that cholera was airborne and he set out to disprove the miasma - or “bad air” - theory by plotting cases on a map. The physician’s findings proved his theory that the disease was in fact being spread through contaminated water. He traced the outbreak back to a water pump.

Snow’s story is one of the oldest examples of someone asking the right questions, analysing a dataset and throwing up new insights into previously stubborn challenges.