Monday, December 31, 2012

Global Observatory - Can Big Data From Cellphones Help Prevent Conflict?

by emmanuel letouzé , Thursday, November 08, 2012
Data from social media and Ushahidi-style crowdsourcing platforms have emerged as possible ways to leverage cellphones to prevent conflict. But in the world of Big Data, the amount of information generated from these is too small to use in advanced data-mining techniques and “machine-learning” techniques (where algorithms adjust themselves based on the data they receive). 

But there is another way cellphones could be leveraged in conflict settings: through the various types of data passively generated every time a device is used. “Phones can know,” said Professor Alex “Sandy” Pentland, head of the Human Dynamics Laboratory and a prominent computational social scientist at MIT, in a Wall Street Journal article. He says data trails left behind by cellphone and credit card users—“digital breadcrumbs”—reflect actual behavior and can tell objective life stories, as opposed to what is found in social media data, where intents or feelings are obscured because they are “edited according to the standards of the day.” 

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