Categories: Big DataData Storage

London Science Museum Exhibition Showcases ‘Invisible Revolution’ Of Big Data

Can marketing companies guess your personality from your Facebook likes? Would you share your DNA data with insurers if it meant cheaper medicine? How does virtual reality help scientists visualise massive sets of data?

These are the questions posed by a free new exhibition at London’s Science Museum, which opens to the public on Friday July 15.

‘Our Lives in Data’ explores the mostly invisible revolution of big data, from smartphones to social networks to public transport.


On display are a myriad of demonstrations on just how many possibilities there are with big data, and the societal implications mass collection of personal data causes.

“Big data is still new but it is already revolutionising the world around us. We hope all visitors to ‘Our Lives in Data’ will get a sense of just how much of our data is captured and processes every day and consider the huge benefits as well as privacy concerns this can create,” said Sheldon Paquin, exhibition developer at the Science Museum.

Facebook statuses are plastered onto a wall that asks just how much personal information can be gleaned from social media. An interactive display finds out how to target adverts specifically designed for your personality type just from a 45 second quiz.

A computer that can analyse DNA in just hours raises concerns about just how personal your health is. In order for patterns in DNA to be found, DNA data has to be shared, but on whose terms is that data shared? This makes data scientists both excited and concerned about health and big data in the future.

A display from Transport for London (TfL) showcases visualisations of huge data sets taken from commuters in London. TfL’s head of analytics Lauren Sager Weinsten told TechWeekEurope that big data is crucial to TfL’s future vision of transport in London.

“How do we understand the patterns of customers on our network to provide better operational services and to tell our customers what is happening on the network?” Weinsten asked.

“We have a whole programme of work that we do that looks at the data that we collect from our ticketing system and from train and bus location systems. We look at it to create patterns and do analysis.”

TfL hopes that in the near future, big data will help target specifically relevant commuters whose travel may be delayed or changed.

PwC’s head of analytics Tom Lewis, who was involved in setting up the exhibition, said that the exhibition should go some way in keeping consumers educated on how their data is being used.

“The explosion of data and its many uses is already affecting our everyday lives, both personally and professionally. With data collected and analysed on so many aspects of life now, this wealth of opportunity also brings responsibilities,” he said.

“It has been great to be involved in the design of this exhibition looking at the wide ranging effect of data analytics, and we’re proud to be associated with the Science Museum.”

Take our virtual reality quiz here!

Ben Sullivan

Ben covers web and technology giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and their impact on the cloud computing industry, whilst also writing about data centre players and their increasing importance in Europe. He also covers future technologies such as drones, aerospace, science, and the effect of technology on the environment.

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