Three Big Data projects that will inspire

Clare Hopping

Wednesday 21 October 2015

With so much data being gathered every day, by almost every organisation, it’s encouraging to see the innovative ways European institutions are using that data in the pursuit of some very worthwhile goals. Here are our three favourite projects happening now.


Presious is a collaborative project being developed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business, Athena Research and Innovation Centre (RIC), University of Konstanz and Breuckmann GmbH. Its principal aim is to help researchers recreate cultural heritage artefacts by the use of big data.

Most nations have a cataloguing system for cultural artefacts, whether dealing with pieces of buildings, tools used through the ages, or decorative objects. There are, however, few existing projects that are able to effectively apply this data – by the optimisation of the 3D digitisation process – to the detailed recreation of damaged items.

As well as recreating certain elements, by using data collated from multiple sources and analysed in Presious, restorers are equally able to apply this when repairing such objects and structures.

Additionally, not only can virtual reconstructions be created more efficiently and accurately, scientists are also able to input certain parameters, such as current condition, material measurements and environmental conditions, to see how existing structures will be affected in future.


By its very nature, Transport for London (TfL) is constantly gathering vast amounts of data. With Londoners making an average of 7 million tube or bus journeys every day, the information this ‘mass migration’ provides helps to dictate the organisation’s whole performance strategy.

In addition to monitoring each passenger’s journey around its network, analysis can also expose when and where the hotspots will appear, so services can be added or optimised to relieve congestion. All this can then be communicated to passengers via platform announcements, emails, whiteboard messages and leaflets, advising when is best to travel to avoid peak time.

TfL is now working on new data analysis to integrate all the information it holds across ticketing, bus, traffic congestion and incident data to provide better performance across the entire London bus and road network.

It’s also developing solutions to integrate social media data with customer data for more advanced insights. This will include weather data to see how that affects usage of the transport network.

Presenting the data in an insightful way is also one of TfL’s priorities. To that end, it is investing in new data mining tools and geospatial visualisations to ensure the information can be easily understood by the whole organisation and by passengers too.

Cancer Core Europe

There are already several medically-orientated big data projects active around the world, but Cancer Core Europe takes this one step further by integrating the resources of six major cancer research units from across the continent.

The Gustave Roussy Cancer Campus Grand Paris (Villejuif, France), Cambridge Cancer Centre (UK), Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden), Vall d’Hebron Institute of Oncology (Barcelona, Spain), the Netherlands Cancer Institute, in Amsterdam, and the German Cancer Research Centre, in Heidelberg, have all now committed to pooling resources and using big data to explore how the illness can be treated better in Europe, in the hope of providing a more tailored treatment plan for each and every patient.

The initiative involves collating the data from all six cancer centres. These are currently treating 60,000 new cases every year, with a total of 300,000 patients under their combined care, and an additional 1.4m follow up patients.

The idea is to unify the patient databases and share information to create a form of ‘e-hospital’, treating each patient in the most effective way possible, based on insights from the entire consortium.


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