Tobias Preis and Suzy Moat will reveal how Google, Wikipedia and data from the digital world can be used to measure and anticipate human behaviour in a talk at The Shard.

Tobias Preis
Tobias Preis

The Warwick Business School academics have developed systems using big data to detect early warning signs of stock market moves or produce more accurate estimates of the spread of a disease.

“Our increasing interactions with large technological systems are generating an avalanche of data, documenting our transport, shopping and banking behaviour at an unprecedented scale,” said Dr Preis. “But what are the practical uses of this data in everyday life? This is what we are exploring, and we are finding that these datasets can be an incredibly rich source of insights into what is happening in our world at the moment, and what might happen in the future.”

For instance, Dr Preis and Dr Moat have used data from Google search queries and Wikipedia to build trading strategies, and have also demonstrated how search data from Google Flu Trends can be used to estimate the number of people currently infected with influenza, whilst avoiding misleading signals due to flu scares.

“Using Google and Wikipedia, we were able to identify patterns which could be interpreted as early signs of stock market moves,” said Dr Moat.

“With Google Flu Trends, it’s true that simply using the volume of searches for flu related terms as an estimate of flu levels can result in misleading figures. However, simple models can be built to watch out for increases in searches that do not correspond to increases in reports of flu, and which use this information to improve upcoming estimates.

Suzy Moat
Suzy Moat

“Predicting the future in the past is of course much easier than truly predicting the future. To guard against us using information in our simulated ‘nowcasts’ which wouldn’t have been available at the time, we train our model using data from the first 16 weeks. We then test the predictions on the 17th week, and retrain our model using data from the second to the 17th week. This model is used to make a prediction for the 18th week, and so on.”

Data science has been labelled the next big frontier for business, and it is on this topic that Dr Moat and Dr Preis are holding a talk at Warwick Business School’s new London base at The Shard.

Understanding human behaviour with data science will reveal how harnessing the power of data can unlock insights into both today’s market and the market of tomorrow, enabling companies to make better business decisions now.

To book a place at The Shard on Thursday November 27 to hear the talk click here.

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