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NRP 75 Big data and you: research projects begin

Several billion gigabytes of data are created each day

(Keystone)

To a company, analysing big data can help improve performance, but to an employee that can equal a breach of trust. This question is just one being tested over the coming years in a new research programme into the ethical, technical and scientific issues surrounding the use of big data.

The Swiss National Science Foundation launched 36 projectsexternal link on Tuesday focusing on big data, the large volume of data that can be analysed computationally to reveal patterns and trends, especially when it comes to human behaviour and interactions. 

A large-scale survey of big data methods in Swiss companies will be done in one project led by Antoinette Weibel of the University of St Gallen, entitled “Big Brother in Swiss companies? Trust, data and personal privacy of employees”external link. It points out that Swiss firms are increasingly introducing new technologies to monitor their employees’ performance, but unreasonable monitoring can destroy trust in the employer.

Ultimately the CHF25 million ($24.7 million) “NRP 75” programme aims to develop new information analysis methods, examine the ethical and legal challenges posed by big data and develop applications in the field of transport and health, for example.

Laws and regulations need to be adapted to avoid negative effects, warned Christian Jensen, president of the NRP 75 Steering Committee.

“Switzerland is very well positioned to carry out research into big data, since it has a highly educated population and remarkable infrastructures. NRP 75 wants to reinforce these capacities and develop specific applications that will be useful to the private and public sectors”.

The projects will be rolled out at 15 higher education institutions in Switzerland and ends in 2021. The first results are expected in 2019 and a final report in 2022.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/jd

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