Data revolution turned the world upside down

Artificial intelligence; to many it still sounds very futuristic. But we are on the brink of the fourth industrial revolution. On 7 April, the Data Science research group held an online event about the data science opportunities for The Hague University of Applied Sciences. ‘Global digitisation and the lightning fast rise of artificial intelligence is turning the world upside down.’

‘In today’s world it’s impossible to not interact with data. There are many incredible opportunities for our society, but also for our university of applied sciences,’ according to Executive Board member Rajash Rawal.

Think tank

Organised by the Data Science research group, which is part of the Centre of Expertise Health Innovation, the online event was geared towards all THUAS staff members. In his introduction Rajash underlined that an AI think tank has been set up to prepare THUAS for the data revolution. ‘We want to optimise the use of data science and integrate it into our education system.’

Innovation driver

‘Data science is an inevitable revolution that could lead to significant advances and could offer unprecedented opportunities both to society and businesses. It will affect many professions in the future and is therefore relevant to all degree programmes at THUAS. Data science will be the most important driver of innovation in the coming years,’ according to data science professor Lampros Stergioulas.

The fourth industrial revolution

After industrial revolutions that were generated by mechanization, electricity and computer power, data science is also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution. Technologies such as voice-activated virtual assistants like Siri, autonomous vehicles and the facial recognition feature of Facebook are only the beginning of major changes that will affect our society as a whole.

7 billion mobile phones

Guest speaker Dimitri Tsopanakos of Deloitte explained that every industry is under pressure to radically change its work methods. And everything is happening at an unprecedented pace. ‘Technology is everywhere. There are currently 7 billion mobile phones in the world. The amount of data and the application of new technologies are increasing exponentially. The market is undergoing dramatic changes and that will have an impact on tomorrow’s labour market.’

Faster vaccination

When we mention artificial intelligence, many people fear there is a risk for humanity. Guest speaker Costas Vassiliadis of PWC confirms that there is also a positive impact, such as the current use of artificial intelligence in the RIVM calculation models. ‘Every week we create predictive models to plan the vaccination campaign. We cannot produce more vaccines, but we can optimise the planning. That will accelerate the pace of vaccination.’

Predicting student success

Jeroen Vuurens, lecturer of Applied Mathematics and researcher associated with the Data Science research group, explains that this positive impact can also be used internally at THUAS. ‘Data hides the answers to all kinds of questions. For example, we can predict which students have the highest risk of dropping out during the foundation programme. We can use these insights to implement structural changes in our education system and improve the quality of our knowledge institution’

In the thick of it

In the international race to further digitisation, Europe is investing heavily in data science. The Netherlands and especially the province of Zuid-Holland are playing a prominent role here, according to Han Biemans, dean of the Faculty IT & Design. ‘And as the largest technical educator in the region, THUAS is an important player. THUAS is involved in the NL AI coalition, a broad collaboration effort between the government, the business community and knowledge institutions. ‘We are in the thick of it and I am firmly convinced that we can make huge strides in this area.’

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