An observatory that allows people to visualise everything from cryptocurrency transactions to migration patterns, will open at Imperial today.
The largest of its kind in Europe, the KPMG Data Observatory features an enveloping circular wall of 64 monitors with 313 degrees of surround vision, powered by 32 computers.
It has immense data processing capacity, allowing users to see data patterns up close that they would not be able to see on an ordinary computer screen. The bank of screens can be reconfigured into five separate sections, allowing users to work on multiple projects in the same space.
Designed, built by and housed within Imperial’s Data Science Institute (DSI), which aims to put the UK at the forefront of data science, the project forms part of a long term £20 million global investment from KPMG.
Researchers and businesses will work together using the observatory to analyse and visualise big data, generating insights to help businesses improve their products and services and stay competitive. Researchers will also be using the observatory to better understand areas such as online fraud, climate change and the solar system.
“This project marks a big step forward in uniting the worlds of business and data science."
– Dr Mark Kennedy
Director of the KPMG Centre for Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School
Professor G 'Anand' Anandalingam, Dean of Imperial College Business School said: "Big data is changing the way everyone operates and for businesses to compete in a globalised economy they need to be able to make sense of all the valuable information that is being generated. By enabling researchers and businesses to visualise and make sense of complex data sets, the KPMG Data Observatory will prove vital in providing new insights into their markets, customers and services that will help businesses make faster, more accurate decisions and stay ahead in a competitive market.”
Dr Mark Kennedy, Director of the KPMG Centre for Business Analytics at Imperial College Business School, said: “We’re already using data visualisations to teach people to identify critical events in complex live data streams—from money laundering to hack attacks in live markets. This is just the beginning of exciting developments that will accelerate much wider use of data sets that are otherwise hard to understand.
“This project marks a big step forward in uniting the worlds of business and data science and I anticipate that this observatory will play a vital role in helping businesses make sense of their data.”
Alwin Magimay, Partner, Head of Digital and Analytics at KPMG UK said: “Businesses are tackling the enormity and complexity of big data and many are struggling to uncover the insights they need. The KPMG Data Observatory will provide a new capability for businesses to gain insight from big-data, identify patterns and solve complex business issues. We are still very much in the silent movie-era of big data, with colour and sound yet to materialise. By finding better ways of visualising and analysing their data, companies will be able to unlock profitability, and unleash new waves of growth and innovation. As the first of its kind in the UK, the KPMG Data Observatory provides businesses with the technology and analytics they need to help them understand and create value from their data.”
Imperial’s Data Science Institute, where the observatory is based, is a hub for developing new data science methods and technologies, supporting world class data-driven research.
Professor Yike Guo, Director of the Data Science Institute at Imperial, said: “Imperial’s Data Science Institute, where the observatory is based, is a hub for developing new data science methods and technologies, supporting world class data-driven research.
Professor Yike Guo, Director of the Data Science Institute at Imperial, said: “We appreciate KPMG’s commitment to supporting the construction of this facility at the Data Science Institute. The observatory will be used intensively for big data analysis in all areas of data driven research at Imperial College London, from healthcare to smart cities.
“It will also foster much collaboration with industry in big data applications. This facility enables academics and businesses alike to transform their data into a visible insight, allowing them to have a vivid dialogue with their data in a stimulating environment. We are expecting to further develop the technology in the observatory to lead the world in data visualisation.”
The KPMG Data Observatory follows the launch of the KPMG Centre for Advanced Business Analytics in 2014. Led by researchers from Imperial College Business School, the Centre aims to develop innovative approaches for using big data to address a variety of business needs such as banks being able to predict fraud, or helping retailers better understand consumer behaviour.
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