Treasure hunt for data

Data storage is getting increasingly cheaper. Companies and governments are also collecting increasing amounts of data. This data revolution has profound consequences for our society. On 7 April, the Data Science research group, part of the Health Innovation Centre of Expertise, is organising an online event about data science for staff members of THUAS.

The capacity of data modelling, data analysis and artificial intelligence (AI) to generate innovation in companies, organisations and larger social systems offers a promising future,’ says Prof. Lampros Stergioulas, PhD, professor of Data Science at THUAS’ Dutch Innovation Factory in Zoetermeer since 20 January 2020.

Tool box

According to Lampros, data science is ‘A kind of treasure hunt for data. You hope to discover an algorithm from a lot of data. You can use computing power to bring hidden knowledge to the surface that you can’t extract at first sight. Computers don’t get tired and, unlike humans, they can look at data for lengthy periods, structurally and systematically, without error, and can discover patterns that you can’t see with the naked eye. It is just like tool box filled with endless possibilities.’

Mountains of data

The Data Science research group wants to use data science and artificial intelligence with practice-oriented research to have a positive impact on society, at the local and regional as well as at the European and international levels. With methods, algorithms, technologies and tools they can discover patterns in the mountains of data which can be used to make predictions and find solutions to a wide range of issues.

Three lines of research

The issues and challenges of Big Data are so broad that they touch on almost all policy themes. For example, data science be used to increase social participation by citizens, accelerate the transition to sustainable energy and increase the effectiveness of decision-making on fighting the corona pandemic. The research group focuses on three lines of research:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Social innovation
  3. Educational analytics

Shoulder joint

In the context of the first line of research, the research group is working with Leiden University Medical Centre to research the mobility of a shoulder to improve diagnosis of shoulder complications. Lampros: ‘The shoulder joint is one of the most complex joints. Now doctors make a diagnosis using X-rays. With data science, we can find an algorithm or a model from many movements with which the patient can eventually be helped faster and better.’

Collaboration with developing countries

The Data Science research group also works together with partners from developing countries. Particularly, a large-scale study in collaboration with Pakistan universities will examine whether there is a relationship between the willingness to have the corona vaccine and the information the target group has received about it. With an app, they collect a range of data on the reasons why someone decides not to get vaccinated and how they have received information about vaccinations. The findings will be useful in policy making and in designing public vaccination take-up campaigns.

Students’ success

The possibilities of data science within the research group’s third line of research are also being used for THUAS. With students’ data, they are mapping out what type of student may face what type of difficulties during their study. Currently, they are mainly looking at how students perform in the foundation programme and not at their previous education. ‘From our analysis, it may appear, for instance, that certain students have trouble with specific subjects from their previous education. You could take that information into account with the group composition in the first year. This research will help to promote student success here at THUAS.’

Revolution

‘Data science is an inevitable revolution that could lead to significant advances and improvements in organisations and people’s lives and could offer unprecedented opportunities for society and the business community alike. It is going to affect many professions in the future. We would like to invite all degree programmes at THUAS to come to our introductory event,’ says Lampros.