Data Science and Ebola

Inaugural Lecture by Aske Plaat on the acceptance of the position of professor of Data Science at the Universiteit Leiden: “…Today, everybody and everything produces data. People produce large amounts of data in social networks and in commercial transactions. Medical, corporate, and government databases continue to grow. Ten years ago there were a billion Internet users. Now there are more than three billion, most of whom are mobile.1 Sensors continue to get cheaper and are increasingly connected, creating an Internet of Things. The next three billion users of the Internet will not all be human, and will generate a large amount of data. In every discipline, large, diverse, and rich data sets are emerging, from astrophysics, to the life sciences, to medicine, to the behavioral sciences, to finance and commerce, to the humanities and to the arts. In every discipline people want to organize, analyze, optimize and understand their data to answer questions and to deepen insights. The availability of so much data and the ability to interpret it are changing the way the world operates. The number of sciences using this approach is increasing. The science that is transforming this ocean of data into a sea of knowledge is called data science. In many sciences the impact on the research methodology is profound—some even call it a paradigm shift.

…I will address the question of why there is so much interest in data. I will answer this question by discussing one of the most visible recent challenges to public health of the moment, the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa…(More)”