Data for good is a big theme of the Computer Weekly top 10 information management stories selected for 2022.

At the planetary level you can read about the use of a graph database to track space junk that is a threat to life on Earth. You can also find a bunch of Scottish schoolchildren deploying sensors in their local environment to generate data that is part of a climate change project orchestrated by the University of Edinburgh. And that is aimed at forming the data scientists society will need in the decades ahead.

Meanwhile, the UK data community of today mobilised to provide medical kits for the civilian casualties of the war in Ukraine.

This list features an interview with someone who is spearheading the drive to professionalise data science: Rachel Hilliam, chair of the Alliance for Data Science Professionals. She argues strongly that data science is not just the latest flash in the pan. “A few years ago, we had the big data revolution that went very quiet. But I think this will endure, partly because it’s not a completely new discipline. It is an interdisciplinary umbrella of those different areas of statistics, applied mathematics and computing.”

Back in Scotland, and in a similar vein, Brian Hills, chief executive of The Data Lab in Scotland, explains why he thinks the organisation’s mission is less about data and more about changing lives by giving people career opportunities.

Also featured in the list is a profile of a woman from an originally poor background who became the chief executive of a data management firm. This is Christal Bemont, CEO, Talend, who reflects on coming through difficult times in solidarity with co-workers, and gives the core advice of being authentic to yourself: show up as you are.

Her own firm is a specialist in data integration, which remains one of the thorniest challenges in business intelligence and analytics. Achieving it is technically and organisationally complex, and it gains in importance all the time. This feature explores the near-Sisyphean challenge that data integration represents. “Firms looking to maximise the value of their business data must still address data quality and integrity, provide consistent and timely data flows into BI and analytics applications, and ensure that business leaders act on the insights from those applications. And they need to do this with skills that remain in short supply.” It’s a tall order, but this feature has a few pointers, synthesising analyst advice.

One emerging and developing approach to getting better business value from data is to embed analytics – based inside applications, often real-time, and driven by APIs – as a way to get to the next level of business intelligence

Elsewhere in this list, you can find data analytics driving wind turbine power generation and illuminating the state of fuel poverty in the UK.

Here are Computer Weekly’s top 10 information management stories of 2022.

1. Space junk revealed by University of Texas graph database

Moriba Jah, director of computational astronautical sciences and technologies for the Oden Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, says he would not willingly go into space. “No, not me, man.”

He leads a team of aerospace engineers at The University of Texas at Austin who have built a graph database, AstriaGraph, to track space junk that is a threat to life on Earth. 

2. University of Edinburgh extends IoT data science to south-east Scottish pupils

The University of Edinburgh is part of a 15-year mission to educate the data scientists of tomorrow among school pupils in its south-east Scotland sphere.

It is leading the way in a Scottish and UK government-backed initiative that also links to climate change. At the core of it is the use of internet of things (IoT) sensors to collect environmental data for analysis by primary and secondary school students. 

3. Data and Tech Aid pledges 10,000 first aid kits to Ukrainian civilians

A data technology community fund-raising body pledged 10,000 first aid kits for civilian casualties of Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Data and Tech Aid (D.A.T.A.) is working with a charity partner in Ukraine, the KSE (Kyiv School of Economics) Foundation. Data and Tech Aid is calling for personal and corporate donations to fund the kits. 

4. Interview: Rachel Hilliam, chair, Alliance for Data Science Professionals

Rachel Hilliam talks about the origins, mission and future plans for the Alliance for Data Science Professionals. 

5. Scotland’s Data Lab CEO Brian Hills on its ambition to change lives

Brian Hills, chief executive of The Data Lab in Scotland, tells Computer Weekly why he thinks the organisation’s mission is less about data and more about changing lives by giving people career opportunities. 

6. Christal Bemont, Talend CEO: Show up as yourself

Christal Bemont, CEO of data management firm Talend, reflects on coming through difficult times in solidarity with co-workers, and how data quality assumes a heightened significance in the digital era. 

7. Data integration dogged by complexity and vital to business

Integrating data is one of the thorniest challenges in business intelligence and analytics – achieving it is technically and organisationally complex, while it is gaining in importance all the time. We entertain some approaches to the problem. 

8. Embedded analytics emerges to offer new level of business intelligence

Analytics suppliers are increasingly offering embedded analytics – based inside applications, often real-time, and driven by APIs – as a way to get to the next level of business intelligence. 

9. How data analytics drives wind turbine power generation

Data analytics and related software lies behind the burgeoning wind turbine industry, with predictive maintenance to the fore. We find out how. 

10. ODI fuel poverty survey shows young adults most hard up

A fuel poverty data report and index from the Open Data Institute showed that young adults and people in multi-occupied accommodation are those most at risk.

Read More