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OR59 - Third UK OR Society Debate on Operational Research

Instigator of this exciting debate session is Sanja Petrovic, Professor of Operational Research at Nottingham University Business School and Vice President of the UK OR Society.

Sanja is also a Co-ordinator of the EURO, (European Association of Operational Research Societies) Working Group on Automated Timetabling (WATT) and has been a member of the EPSRC Peer Review College since 2003. She was also a guest co-editor for special issues of the European Journal of Operational Research (EJOR), Journal of Scheduling and Annals of Operations Research, is an Associate Editor of the IMA Journal of Management Mathematics and a member of the Editorial Board of the Yugoslav Journal of Operations Research - YUJOR.

Sanja Petrovic will also be chairing the Debate for us this year.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Data Belongs to the Human Race

Motivated by the 200 year long history of debating at the Cambridge Union Society and especially by the recent debate entitled ‘Religion Has No Place in the 21st Century’, in which debating teams were led by Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams, the Operational Research Society organises a series of debates to examine opposing ideas and policies within Operational Research teaching, research and applications. The aim of debates is to open new perspectives on a wide variety of Operational Research ideas and concepts and to advance the Operational Research discipline as a whole. Depending on the topic of the debate, different and opposing ideas and concepts can be confronted.

What is precisely the meaning of debate and debating? Debate is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “a formal discussion on a particular matter in a public meeting or legislative assembly, in which opposing arguments are put forward and which usually ends with a vote”. The Cambridge Union Society defines debating as “a fun activity akin to a game in which we examine ideas and policies with the aim of persuading people within an organised structure. It allows us to consider the world around us by thinking about different arguments, engaging with opposing views and speaking strategically.

We live in the era ofexplosion of data creation, data gathering, data transmission, and data dissemination. It is claimed that more data has been created in the past two years than in the entire written history of the human race. Data is here, around us, but who should have access to it? The concept of shared data has emerged relatively recently and has already been debated on in different sectors in science, government, social networks, media in general, etc. With the increase of power of technologies and decline in its cost, collecting and processing data of many aspects of our daily activities, has become a part of our everyday lives. The right to privacy and the right to information are both essential human rights, but can be in conflict with each other. For example, surveillance technologies involve the collection of a large volume of potentially sensitive data. How is the paradigm of surveillance defined? Is it focused on specific threats, or is it speculative and allows for all types of understanding and even misuse? As an example, the Wall Street Journal's Watched project launched a years-long series on privacy to explore the impact of ubiquitous surveillance on citizens and society. While many arguments have been made categorically for or against the concept of shared data, this debate aims to highlight a wide variety of issues that arise related to shared data and which are relevant to the Operational Research as a discipline.

Our Speakers

Dr Armelle Cressent, (CIPP/E) is a PhD researcher at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, France. Drawing from her experience as a researcher and as Privacy practitioner, she is currently working on the potential impact the new European regulation in data privacy (GDPR) may have on research in history and social sciences. She is also interested in understanding the status of data subjects which are not covered by privacy laws in their national legislation to highlight inequality and relations of power in historical and scientific research. Armelle contributes to debates surrounding the respect of privacy and the freedom of expression.


Professor Jacqui Taylor Co-Founder and CEO of FlyingBinary Ltd. Jacqui is recognised as one of the 100 most powerful UK entrepreneurs and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science in recognition of her Internet of Things (IoT) work. As a Visiting Professor at LSBU she is articulating the contribution of the IoT to the New and Convergent Media domains. She is a high profile mentor in the world’s number one digital hub, Tech City. An appointment for the third year as an Independent Ministerial Advisor in the Cabinet Office of H.M. Government recognised her as a web scientist of influence in the era of Big Data and the Internet of Things (IoT). She is an expert lead for the British Standards Institute (BSI) team and is the Editor for two ISO Smart City standards. Jacqui will support the Freedom of Information side of the debate