VWData kickstarter programme launched

23 February 2018

The VWData kickstarter programme is made up of several research teams that will focus on a joint issue: how can we use Big Data in a way that is legally, ethically and socially acceptable? The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) is involved in both the realization and the implementation of this programme, which it is rolling out on behalf of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

The VWData kickstarter programme is made up of several research teams. Photography: Elodie Burrillon / HUCOPIXThe VWData kickstarter programme is made up of several research teams. Photography: Elodie Burrillon / HUCOPIX

On 29 January, some 50 researchers got together in Amersfoort to celebrate the launch of the VWData kickstarter programme. During the event, programme manager Inald Lagendijk explained how the Dutch National Research Agenda’s call for input resulted in 11,700 questions. These questions were clustered together into 140 Big Questions, which were, in turn, divided into 25 ‘routes’. From these, eight routes were awarded a kickstarter grant to prove their viability.

Relevant to science and society

The VWData programme, short for ‘Responsible Value Creation with Big Data’, originates from the Big Data Route and focuses on two major concepts: FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data, and FACT (Fair, Accurate, Confidential and Transparent) data science. These are highly relevant topics that have been dominating the news lately: just look at any newspaper or news broadcast and you will find a story that somehow involves Big Data.

Sound science is, of course, an integral part of the programme, but it is equally important for FACT and FAIR ambassadors to ensure that both the scientific community and society in general continue to build on the results and insights produced by VWData’s research. That is why the programme will also seek to work together with other routes within the Dutch National Research Agenda, civil society organizations, and national and international initiatives.

Legal, ethical and social issues

The launch started, of course, with a presentation outlining the projects that make up the VWData programme. Some of these projects address the topic of bias, for example, or how news consumers perceive their own ‘filter bubble’ (for a complete list of projects and topics, visit www.vw-data.nl). What can we do to break out of these bubbles? Another – closely related – topic concerns ways of detecting biases in news articles ourselves. Is there any software, for example, that we could use to measure the diversity of our news consumption, or to determine the ‘toxicity’ of a comment on an internet forum?

Towards new and even better questions

Fortunately, the launch event yielded more questions than answers. These are sure to keep the researchers busy over the next two years. At the end of that period, their efforts will probably have yielded many answers, but mainly new and even better questions – which is exactly what an effective kickstarter programme should do!

Find out more at Dutch Digital Delta’s website


Artwork summarizing the day’s events Photography: Elodie Burrillon / HUCOPIXArtwork summarizing the day’s events Photography: Elodie Burrillon / HUCOPIX

Source: Dutch Digital Delta