Assessing Big Data – Project ABIDA analyzes the Impact on our Society
Assessing Big Data - Project ABIDA analyzes the Impact on Society

Assessing Big Data – Project ABIDA analyzes the Impact on our Society

Did you ever ask yourself, what happens to data stored in a cloud if the provider is bankrupt? Are we still having a democracy, if the government makes use of big data to drive decisions while there are citizens keep away from the digital world? What are the consequences of identity theft? The use of big data and its consequences will foster discussions including many disciplines besides the obvious questions around business value and privacy. With ABIDA a transdisciplinary project has been started, with the goal of assessing big data to understand implications from trends in Big Data and how this will be affecting our society.

A lack of discussions about the impact and high social relevance of big data has been the trigger for five German universities and a science center to launch a new project in March 2015. While economic aspects of big data are discussed widely, Assessing Big Data (short ABIDA) also takes a look at big data from legal, ethic, social, and political point of view. With scientific methods it strives to evaluate the current development and connect the knowledge of specialists from the disciplines to derive scenarios of future development and options for actions. Thereby it puts an focus on the perspective of citizen and tries to derive the impact on the society.

ABIDA - Big Data and Society
The project ABIDA investigates also on less obvious aspects of Big Data


With ABIDA a monitoring is being setup, which will allow a constant challenge of the impact of Big Data aspects on the citizen. As a reference, three smaller cities have been selected in Germany – one is known to be a technology center, one with a focus on economics, and the last one known to be rather conservative in adopting new trends. Their residents will be observed and interviewed throughout the whole project.

From current trends and observations the project groups develops various scenarios around Big Data. In two project phases these scenarios first get challenged and then findings are going to consolidated. Research groups involving experts from affected domains, a Delphi Study, several conferences, and public opinion polls are planned to create a comprehensive overview over the relevant topics. In-depth studies, expert workshops, and focus groups will follow up in a later stage. A project report is finally planned to layout the future trends and provide concrete options for action.

Recently first dossiers have been published and are available from the project homepage. For February 15th/16th 2016 a major conference is planned with the topic “Big Data and Society – Between Causality & Correlation”.

As ABIDA is starting to assess the use of big data and its implications from new aspects, exciting and meaningful results are to be expected. So far, too many aspects have not been revisited at all to neglect them. As big data is going to have a major impact on our society, it is getting time that the society looks at big data as well. We have to expect results which imply request for actions. The response of our governments on the results will create a sustainable impact on our future society.

Project Partners:

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster – Institut für Informations-, Telekommunikations- und Medienrecht (ITM), Zivirechtliche Abteilung – Project Coordination
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie – Institut für Technikfolgenabschätzung und Systemanalyse (ITAS) – Project Coordination / Ethical Key Problems and Questions Concerning the Application of Big Data
Leibniz Universität Hannover – Institut für Rechtsinformatik (IRI) – Data Protection, Privacy, and Ownership
Technische Universität Dortmund – Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät (WiSo), Techniksoziologie – Social Risks, Privacy Changes, and Digital Divide
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München – Forschungsstelle für Information, Organisation und Management (IOM) – Big Data and its Impact on Enterprises, Sectors, and Overall Perspective
Wirtschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung (Berlin Social Science Center) – Big Data as Regulation Object and Resource

The project ABIDA is sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Research and Technology.