The science of knowing

open this image in new window: Data Science Team

Q&A with Callaghan Innovation's Data Science team.

Data is increasingly a part of every facet of our lives, and knowing how to harness it can help solve problems as diverse as avoiding car accidents and diagnosing cancer. We asked Callaghan Innovation's own Data Science team, KL, Donal, Aruna and Ashna to expand a bit on how they help business succeed through technology.

What is data science?

Data science is a science area that draws on multi-disciplinary knowledge to extract insights and information from data. That can involve machine learning – where computers can gain knowledge without explicit programming.

It can also involve other forms of artificial intelligence, allowing researchers to make connections in large sets of information that would be beyond the processing capability of even large teams of humans – so called “big data”.

How is it best used in business? How can it benefit NZ businesses?

Businesses can utilise the data they have and gain knowledge/insights as to how to drive their business strategies and innovate business models. This can lead to businesses making informed decisions which will be less risky and more financially secure for the businesses.

Data is commonly used by businesses to gain better understanding of their performance, to make better decisions on their strategies and daily operations and to tailor their services to the needs of their customers. However, the best examples are those businesses who can harness the power of their data and knowledge, adopting a new business model accordingly, and successfully create new high-valued services or products.

Data science is a vehicle to transform NZ to a high-value, knowledge-based economy. NZ businesses are lagging in this space in the global scale. More businesses need to develop their data strategies.

Is data science only useful if you’re a company that deals with numbers?

Not at all. Callaghan Innovation’s Data Science team has recently used the power of data science in cancer diagnosis. This has led to new investment for the company involved. We have also used data science in sports analytics to improve individual player performance.

Data can be collected and analysed continuously to allow, for instance, traffic congestion to be monitored and road speeds altered to smooth traffic flow and reduce the likelihood of nose-to-tail accidents, as now occurs on the Wellington motorway.

If someone wanted to use data science in their business, where is the best place to start?

The first approach for a business should be to think about their data strategy, and the problem they’re trying to solve, and then come talk to our Data Science team!

Updated: 16 December 2016