An observatory for big data, enabling people to visualise everything from global cryptocurrency transactions, to migration patterns, to commuter movements on the Shanghai metro, is being launched today (Tuesday 3 November) by Imperial College London in partnership with KPMG.
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 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.
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.”
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.”
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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KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff. The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.
About Imperial College London
Imperial College London is one of the world's leading universities. The College's 14,000 students and 7,500 staff are expanding the frontiers of knowledge in science, medicine, engineering and business, and translating their discoveries into benefits for society.
Founded in 1907, Imperial builds on a distinguished past - having pioneered penicillin, holography and fibre optics - to shape the future. Imperial researchers work across disciplines to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable energy technology and address security challenges. This blend of academic excellence and its real-world application feeds into Imperial's exceptional learning environment, where students participate in research to push the limits of their degrees.
Imperial nurtures a dynamic enterprise culture, where collaborations with industrial, healthcare and international partners are the norm. In 2007, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust formed the UK's first Academic Health Science Centre. This unique partnership aims to improve the quality of life of patients and populations by taking new discoveries and translating them into new therapies as quickly as possible.
Imperial has nine London campuses, including Imperial West: a new 25 acre research and innovation centre in White City, west London. At Imperial West, researchers, businesses and higher education partners will co-locate to create value from ideas on a global scale.