Love Data Week event 14th February 2018
On the 14th February Research staff, Postgraduate students and support staff gathered to mark International Love Data week with an afternoon of lively and informative talks under the heading Straeon Data Stories. The presenters brief was simple; 10 minutes on any aspect of Research data. What followed were presentations which posed questions, addressed challenges and discussed innovations in the area of Research Data Management, all showing the vibrancy of Research Data Management here in Bangor.
Dr Dave Perkins kicked off the presentations treating us to a selection of images taken from the world around us. He detailed how in order to transfer the real world into the digital world there is some translation which goes on in terms of computer bits. Due to the nature of this translation there is an element of inefficiency, leading, in some cases due to the nature of zooming, to pixelated images. He finished by posing the question ‘Does it matter if it is not as good as the real world?’ Are we happy to accept these inefficiencies?
We were delighted to welcome colleagues from Natural Resources Wales and Harriet Robinson gave us a fantastic overview of the breadth and depth of data which is available from them. This data is collected by NRW and ensures that decisions to do with the Natural World are made on sound evidence. They have several collections of data available, all available under an Open Government Licence, including: Recorder 6, Marine Recorder, Arc GIS, WIRS and WISKI (hydrometry and telemetry data taking recordings every 15 minutes across thousands of locations). One place to access NRW data is via Lle, a geo-portal developed as a partnership between Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales, available at: http://lle.gov.wales/home. NRW ensure that the data is discoverable, accessible and reusable and are currently operating on 3* level of openness. There are some exciting developments in the pipeline. They are aiming to become as Data by Design organisation achieving a maximum 5* level of openness, improving the technology for the publication of data, innovate data usage and a wish to go Global.
Laurence Jones a PhD student from Bangor’s business school talked us through the types of data that he uses, the financial databases researchers in the Business School have access to and the models used to analyse the data they access. In this case data is not created, but accessed and analysed on computer terminals (jokingly referred to by Laurence as those see in films like The Big Short). This data includes stock market data (daily, second, millisecond) Credit ratings data and company data which includes financial balance sheets. He talked us through how he would analyse and interpret this data and how he would deal with outliers (…specific observations, Trimming, Winsorizing), given that the data is not always 100% accurate. Then using progression models they are able to control different things which may be affecting dependent variables, such as the impact regulation may have on company fortunes.
A new postdoctoral fellow to the University’s School of Ocean Sciences, Adel Heenan, gave us a ‘fishy tale’. Prior to arriving at Bangor Adel worked at the University of Hawai’i collecting data for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, US department of Commerce) monitoring the coral reef fishes across the Pacific. Adel added atmosphere to her presentation by playing a video in the background of a fish sampling survey. This project generated a huge dataset and a report of its findings was presented to the Congress of the United States of America. The 2012 President Obama issued a directive pushing the Open Data agenda in the U.S. There was a need then to extend access to this data, to put in place quality control measures, to ensure efficiencies in terms of dealing with data requests and improve data archiving. Adel advocated the use of both GitHub and the Reproducible Research open educational course available via Coursera.
At the half way point we broke for refreshments, a chance for questions and networking as well as encouraging contributions to our Love Data Pledge and Data developments heart. Everybody was asked to pledge one thing that they plan to do with their Research data and suggest developments they would like to see at the University with regards to Research Data Management.
Professor Jonathan Roberts kicked off the second half of proceedings claiming: Love Data: Love Visualisation. He led us through 4 stories which have led to 4 lessons for good Research Data Management as follows:
D: Define the problem
A: Design and generate Alternatives
T: Critically Think
A: Assess outcomes with users.
Along with Panos Ritsos and Chris Headleand, Jonathan has published a book entitled Five Design-Sheets: Creative Design and Sketching for Computing and Visualisation, which leads the reader through sketching as a way to establish a problem and create a solution.
Graham Worley joined us to talk about the new SEACAMS 2 project aiming to make 20TB of data available to the Marine Renewables Industry. They have created iMARDIS, The Integrated Marine Data Information System to make this data available. The motto of the project has been “Measure once, use many times”. A phrase that encompasses the Open Data movement. Their aims are to offer a data download service, develop data products and create analytical and modelling tools. They have designed an infrastructure which offers more than just a repository for data, it offers granular metadata, dynamic access, the ability to retrieve subsets of the data and the use of APIs for programmatical access to the data for real-time feedback. They have also designed a metadata manager and have processed approximately 4TB of the data. The most difficult part of the journey so far has been the data licensing aspect by trying to make the data as open as possible but balancing alongside academic concerns.
Our second PhD student to present was Cameron Gray from the School of Computer Science. By using Learner analytics he has been able to assess the retention rate of students based on the first 3 weeks of attendance and produced a predictive model. This model can be used to identify at risk students and form the basis for strategies for intervention. The data also allowed the identification of any events which may trigger a fall-off in attendance. This will lead to Data Driven Decision making.
Our final speaker for this inaugural Data Stories event was Dr Panos Ritsos who talked us through Visualization beyond the desktop, the next big thing? Mixed/Augmented reality and the internet of things is set to change our perception of informational and physical space. Data can, and is, becoming more pervasive and this could lead to the death of the desktop as we move to more mobile technologies. He is working on Synthetic visualisations, real-time physical space representations of data. Augmenting the environment through interaction, reworking objects. This is leading to a different kind of openness, an openness of convenience. He encouraged anybody with an interest in visualising data to get in touch.
We would like to thank all speakers for their contribution to a lively and engaging event. Good ideas were shared and good practice highlighted. The event highlighted the scope and range of data that is being produced, handled and managed at the University. A better understanding of what’s happening in practice, will help us understand how best the University can support research data management developments in the future.
This event also took part during the Bangor Sustainability Carnival, which aimed to showcase the range and variety of sustainability-related events that run in a typical month at Bangor University. Good research data management support is essential to ensure data is available in the long-term. It is also essential that data critical for global sustainability efforts can be openly shared for the collaboration and the greater good. Bangor University is not working alone, and we should be tapping in to developments in Research Data Management initiatives across the UK HE sector for UK-wide sustainable solutions.