On Tuesday, March 27th, CCDS’ Jenny Stromer-Galley and Alexandra Sargent attended the 2018 Summit of the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub (“the Hub”) in NYC at the Columbia Journalism School. The Hub hosts an annual summit to convene the data science stakeholder community of the Northeast United States, offer updates on the Hub’s continued work, host panel discussions and multi-sector input, and provide opportunities for discussion and collaboration with stakeholders during breakout sessions.

This years’ keynote speaker was Corinna Cortes, the head of Google Research in NYC, who spoke about her team’s data-driven approach to fighting fake news. Cortes opened by stating that “Google is a search tool, not the ledger of absolute truth”- a statement which prompted discussion about advertising and interests among many of the attendees. Cortes went on to explain how Google uses relevance and authoritativeness to produce search results, and explained how these can be used to produce fake news as a primary search result. Cortes’ examples of how these two search result factors may produce fake news were from the 2016 Presidential election, during which a top search result gave incorrect election numbers, and recent Cambridge Analytica claims and misinformation. Cortes explained how her team is working with fact checkers to detect and remove false news and the continued efforts at Google to combat digital misinformation. Cortes closed her talk with the statement that we must “restore faith in the internet because it is crumbling right now”.

The next event was a Panel Discussion titled “Impact of Digital Media Across Sectors”. The panel featured five individuals from academia, health, and technology as cross-sector representatives. The panelists emphasized the importance of collaboration and human talent, including industry and academia and technology and academia working side-by-side on data development and challenges. Hub attendees also had the opportunity to listen to presentations from Big Data Spoke principal investigators that received funding for their varying projects.  These presentations emphasized the Hub’s goal to build public-private partnerships to address high-priority societal challenges with data-driven solutions.

Following lunch, attendees were invited to join one of three breakout sections as the final activity of the day. The breakout sessions were titled Data Literacy, Health, and Data and Ethics. The Data and Ethics group, which Stromer-Galley and Sargent attended, began with an explanation of the 10 Data Ethics and Principles which were developed for data practitioners and consumers. These principles, which can be found at datapractices.org, provided a platform from which the breakout session would function (although it is important to note that these principles were disputed by several of the individuals in attendance, and are considered to be in-process).

The Data and Ethics group broke out into four different subgroups to generate ideas and proposals for future work, the goal of which was to make connections for funding proposals and keep conversations about data ethics alive after the event. Jenny Stromer-Galley led one of the discussions within the Data and Ethics breakout group focused on Best Practices of data ethics. Stromer-Galley, who previously helped to lead the Data and Ethics group within the Hub, explained to the gathered crowd that she was a member of the original group of individuals that said “ethics matter to the Hub”. The groups concluded with brief presentations about their ideas as well as providing feedback to Hub representatives for continuing the conversation around data and ethics.

One speaker, Meredith Lee of the Western US Hub, recited the following “data haiku”:

“Include, iterate.

Community drives process…

Thoughtful together.”

CCDS would like to thank the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub for an engaging event, and we look forward to our continued participation in this important community!

For more information on the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub visit: http://nebigdatahub.org