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“Big Data – solution or problem?: citizens discuss in Aachen

The first ABIDA citizens’ conference took place on the 21st of May 2016. For one day, citizens from Aachen have been discussing their experiences, hopes, fears and wishes on the issue of Big Data intensely.

After a short address of welcome by Anika Hügle from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Reinhard Heil, also KIT, gave his keynote speech “Big Data – light and shadow” to introduce the topic to all participants emphasizing that Big Data mainly deals with the linking of data and the resultant information..


Subsequently, the citizens should discuss their opinions and experiences in small groups as the main part of the citizens’ conference. The three groups dealt with the questions: Is Big Data the individual’s or the state’s responsibility? Who is in control? Is our behavior controlled and does the human or the computer decide? The moderators collected the fears and concerns but also the wishes and hopes of the participants which covered a broad range from health to mobility and scientific progress and discussed it in the groups.

Gut gestärkt ging es nach einem gemeinsamen Mittagessen (bei dem fleißig weiterdiskutiert wurde) in die zweite Runde, wo zukünftige Entwicklungen im Hinblick auf Big Data im Vordergrund standen. Zum einen wurde eine Art Bestandsliste relevanter Aspekte, Bereiche und Technologien von Big Data im Jahr 2026 erarbeitet. Zum anderen stellte jede Gruppe eine Wunschliste mit ihren Wünschen und Handlungsoptionen für Big Data in der Zukunft auf.  

In a second round after lunch, the discussion focused on future developments regarding Big Data. On the one hand, one created a “stock list” of relevant aspects, sectors and technologies of Big Data in the year 2026. On the other hand, every group designed a “wish list” of wishes and options for action regarding Big Data in the future.Finally, all groups presented their results in plenary to the others. One could see both the huge number and the huge diversity of opinions that people have on issues like Big Data.

An interesting and informative day full of discussion for everyone!!

Rolf Hohl also reports about this day in his article “Boon and bane of flood of the digital data” in the Aachener Zeitung from the 23rd of May 2016:

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