Research Case Study

Insight: Using the data revolution to solve real world issues

As the first UNESCO Chair in Analytics and Data Science, Professor Maria Fasli is on a mission to ensure the data revolution benefits all walks of society.

  • Tagged under

    Technology, data and innovation

  • Lead Academic

    Professor Maria Fasli

Professor Maria Fasli

The data revolution is shaping every aspect of our lives and we are at the precipice of fundamental change.

At Essex, we are putting people at the heart of data science and analytics.

It’s not just the science that matters – it’s the social impact that has real meaning. Essex researchers want to have a positive impact on the world and that gives our work real value and a unique sense of purpose.

The challenges of data

The data revolution brings up a number of challenges which can only be addressed through a concerted effort that requires new interdisciplinary approaches to data science, questioning conventional approaches and breaking away from strict disciplinary norms.

As Director of our Institute for Analytics and Data Science (IADS), Professor Fasli is working with people from very different perspectives to break down silos to solve real problems and harness the power of data and computational technologies for the benefit of all.

New analytics and machine learning techniques are needed which can make use of the abundance of both structured and unstructured data around us - such techniques could uncover nuanced relationships on a level and scale never before possible.

We need more elaborate and efficient predictive analytics, but also push the boundaries in prescriptive analytics – new powerful analytics and machine learning methods can lead to informed decisions at the individual level rather than make decisions based on averages.

Helping developing countries reap benefits of data revolution

By collaborating with other members of the global UNESCO Chair’s network, Professor Fasli is helping deliver UNESCO’s ambitious Sustainable Development Goals which include helping transitioning and developing countries to gain the data science and analytics skills they need for the twenty-first century.

Professor Fasli’s UNESCO role is addressing the acute data science skills shortage in developing and transitioning countries and to ensure the benefits of the data revolution reach all walks of society.

Working with collaborators and experts from around the world, seeking to improve the use of data, will have the knock-on effect of developing strong and self-reliant knowledge economies, which in turn will mean better services to improve  the lives of citizens. It’s an exciting and ambitious global project we are delighted Essex is playing a part in.

“Professor Fasli’s critical work in this space is working to strengthen the contribution of data to sustainable development at both the micro and macro level through data literacy programmes and state-level capacity building.”
Professor Kiran Fernandes Director, UK National Commission for UNESCO’s Higher Education

Unique perspective on data challenge

Professor Fasli has a background in artificial intelligence, machine learning and modelling complex systems.

Her theoretical grounding, transdisciplinary exposure and extensive experience in applying methods and techniques in real world problems, have given her a unique perspective in analytics and data science.

Her work extends from fundamental theory projects in understanding the evolution of institutions and societies co-inhabited by humans and artificial intelligent systems to more application-oriented projects in developing and applying modelling and machine learning techniques in a range of domains from marketing to insurance and providing medically-approved health advice to patients.