[This IPRO section will focus on challenges offered by American Red Cross, a Motorola Solutions Foundation grantee, related to innovating concepts to improve preparedness and responsiveness to fire emergencies, informed by studying a diversity of big data sets, patterns and insights derived from them.]
Anticipating and managing disasters has never been more critical to the safety of individuals, property, and the economy, than it is today. One purpose of this IPRO project is to apply “Big Data” techniques to improve public safety relative to natural and man-made disasters. Our initial focus will be on learning the “Big Data” analytical research process – Data Gathering, Pre-Processing, Modeling and Visualization. We will then explore our findings for logical implications for the future, and Predictive Analytics. If possible, near the end of the semester, we would like to invite local area high school students to share in our processes and provide them with rewarding experience in which they can participate in helping us create powerful, data driven, expressions, possibly including artistic expressions to reach a public audience.
We have witnessed unprecedented growth in our ability to accumulate, analyze, and synthesize information in recent years. Areas of research pertinent to the human condition as well as many others important to the public have seen significant advances illuminating complex relationships that until now been largely unobserved or even understood. Conversely, it seems that a gap between the scientific community and the greater public has emerged in understanding these ideas and in some cases, fostering a tangible degree of mistrust. It is our challenge and responsibility to explore new and unconventional methods to bridge this gap.
As a result, another purpose of this IPRO project is to develop a series of works/exhibits that communicate complex issues of scientific merit and importance to the public in compelling ways, with a particular focus on preparedness for and responsiveness to fire emergencies. These works might take the form of images, physical objects, or mixed/ multimedia installation, performance art, as well as web-based applications.
Given the above context, there are three overarching goals for the IPRO team to pursue with a particular focus on innovating concepts that can improve preparedness for and responsiveness to fire emergencies:
Students representing a variety of disciplines have an opportunity to explore their interests and apply their knowledge in a collaborative way that creates enhancements for public safety and preparedness for and responsiveness to fire emergencies: information design, devices and applications, designs and technology solutions for the built environment, social behavior patterns, public policy and the regulatory environment, etc.
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON BIG DATA: The well-known explosion in the volume (scale), variety (types), velocity (speed) and veracity (quality) of data that is being generated by governments, organizations and individuals creates opportunities, challenges and risks that affect our full participation as citizens as well as our lifestyles and standards of living every day. This encompasses financial decision making, decisions about healthcare, safety and security, urban systems, sports and entertainment, social media, etc. The Chicago-area is particularly fruitful for new initiatives centered on data competence and involving citizen participation at a range of levels of government. Chicago is a hub for firms relying on data science and analytics, and its major universities with data science and analytics programs in a range of fields. The City of Chicago has been a national leader in data driven governance, working with companies and academic institutions for innovation in this area.
The growing complexity of the public environment of sensors, data streams, storage, algorithms, visualizations and dashboards, offers a range of possibilities for research. This can lead to insights and inspire innovation, developing tools that help manage these processes, deriving value and minimizing unfavorable consequences to the individual, the economy, society and culture. Over the past few years, this sea change has been popularized through our economy and culture via the notion of big data. According to the McKinsey Global Institute (Big data: The next frontier for innovation, competition, and productivity, May 2011), Big data refers to datasets whose size is beyond the ability of typical database software tools to capture, store, manage, and analyze.
This IPRO section is inspired by the conviction that data science is the foundation field on which to introduce a progressive, developmental approach to building “data consciousness” into the fabric of learning. This includes learning how to make decisions based on the best available data, and to discern and understand the meaning of the data they may encounter. Issues of ethics, privacy and security also come into play in a variety of organization settings. The goal is to advance all learners toward higher levels of data competency: data literacy (understanding data and statistical concepts) begins in the early years, data science expertise (designing data science analyses) typically starts in the undergraduate college years, and data science mastery (building data science systems and performing complex analyses) is developed at the graduate school and working professional levels. This then extends to the responsibility professionals have as citizens and as leaders in a range of roles in society, the economy and government.