LUCA at Big Data Spain 2016: Our Full Roundup

Friday, 18 November 2016

LUCA at Big Data Spain 2016: Our Full Roundup

Over the past 2 days our LUCA team have been in full force at the Big Data Spain 2016 event, which was held this year in Kinepolis in the Ciudad de la Imagen. This technology summit, run by Paradigma Digital, brings together over a thousand Big Data professionals and is already in it's fifth edition. 


This year, we sent several members of our team from both our Data Science wing and our recruitment area to share information on our new Big Data brand and run our technical challenge which we mentioned on our blog the other day to the wide range of data enthusiasts visiting our stand throughout the two day festival of data. 

LUCA team
Figure 1: The LUCA team at Big Data Spain 2016


Proceedings kicked off with a welcome note from Oscar Méndez from Stratio before us hearing about the very popular matter of Artificial Intelligence, from Paco Nathan from O'Reilly Media who raised some poignant issues about AI replacing humans in industry. He showed an interesting slide that showed that the most common job in almost all states of the USA is indeed a truck driver, so perhaps we should think more about how and if the economy will allow for machines to replace us in the swift fashion many are expecting. 

Throughout the morning session, we also particularly enjoyed Kay Broderson's talk on CausalImpact, which you can find more information on here on Github. He demonstrated how this approach can be used to estimate the causal effect of a designed intervention on a time series, using the example of an advertising campaign to explain the technology to the audience. 

The afternoon sessions also touched some of our favourite topics, including Open Data (From Insight to Visualization with Google BigQuery and CARTO) and the role of Stream Processing in Big Data and the Internet of Things.  As well as more technical sessions with fascinating demos, there were also some insightful more academic talks about Growing Data Scientists and Managing Data Science, which were delivered by Amparo Alonso from the University of A Coruña and David Martinez from University College London. 

On Day 2, our CDO, Chema Alonso took to the stage for his keynote.  He opened up by discussing the increasing threat of smartphones to our privacy, explaining how their extensive sensors, GPS, WiFi and accelerometers exist to create data - data which tells a lot about who we are and importantly, where we are. Chema explained that location data is pivotal, and although many of us innocently think that by switching off "Location Services" we are not being tracked - it is not actually true at all. 

Chema Alonso speech
Figure 2: Chema Alonso explains the important link between Big Data and Security.

He explained that the apps we have installed on our phones start to understand us from the moment we install them, giving them permission to access information such as file location and account credentials. By quickly clicking "I Agree" we hand over our most important personal information such as our email address, our mobile phone number, our social media accounts and everything which we are logged into.

Chema then went on to discuss Tacyt, an ElevenPaths product which monitors, stores, analyzes, correlates and classifies millions of mobile apps while adding thousands of new apps every day. However, he mentioned that aside from apps there are many other ways of tracking us. For example, via WiFi we share the name of our home network, the location of our daily coffee shop and plenty of other information that we're not aware of.  Battery cookies are also another way of knowing where we are and where we go everyday. 

Furthermore, he shared how telcos can also gather extensive location data through the mobile network without even considering GPS signal, explaining that mere location data gives away a lot more than just where you are. For example, where you go on holiday, where you work, where you shop, if you go by car or train or even where you park the car. Additionally, by knowing how long you are there, telcos can infer how much you sleep, if you have any lovers, your affluence - all of which can be combined to build a relatively accurate user profile - moving from where you are to who you are. 

Chema Alonso
Figure 3: Chema discussed a Play Store bug which "scared" people.

The Telefónica CDO then went on to explain that this data can be used for a lot more than commercial purposes such as advertising, but rather for anti-fraud products, traffic prediction or emergency services. He discussed how LUCA is ensuring they apply their commercial expertise to use Big Data for Social Good by analyzing data from natural disasters in Mexico or using mobility data to reduce CO2 emissions. 

Chema finished his talk by inviting all of us to stop for a second and have a good think about the most relevant questions.  Firstly the legal questions: are the terms and conditions clear enough? Are people aware of what the "yes, I agree" really means?

Secondly the ownership questions: who is the owner of our data? And if it is companies right now, then we have the questions of trust to address: do we know what they are doing with our data? And most importantly, is it all worth it? 

The link between Big Data and Privacy continues to pose a wide range of technical and ethical questions for all us, and although many are still in intense debate, Chema clearly underlines the importance of security being at the centre of everything we do - protecting users and ensuring transparency for customers. 

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