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‘Citizen empowerment’ critical in Big Data research, says Minister

Irish delegation to propose Magna Carta for Data on the 800th anniversary of the original

Speaking ahead of a keynote speech on data policy in Brussels tomorrow (Feb 4), Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy TD has called for individual privacy and ‘citizen empowerment’ to be at the heart of research in data analytics.

Ireland is emerging as a global leader in Big Data research since the establishment of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, which brings together 350 data researchers in the largest SFI-funded research centre to date. Insight will deliver its proposal for a ‘Magna Carta for Data’ at a seminar in Brussels tomorrow.

"Ireland's Insight Centre for Data Analytics is a prime example, in an EU context, of an innovative partnership between academia and industry,” said Dara Murphy.

“There are huge potential gains for society and the economy from this kind of collaborative approach to research in data analytics. I commend Insight for its work in developing a ‘Magna Carta for Data,’ focused on data protection, privacy and empowerment of the citizen. In seeking to harness the power of ‘big data’, we must place the protection of individual privacy at the heart of everything we do."

Insight's Magna Carta proposal will be delivered to a large gathering of European Commission officials, MEPs, industry representatives and multinational corporations from sectors including ICT, financial services, health and aviation.

Barry O’Sullivan, director and leader of Insight’s strategic engagement with Europe and Horizon 2020 said:

“Insight will present the Magna Carta White Paper to facilitate understanding among policy makers of the issues surrounding data legislation. Data research is progressing rapidly and there is a concentration of research expertise in Ireland. As a leading centre for data analytics innovation in Europe, Insight has a critical role to play in ensuring that individual and public interests are embedded in research and innovation.”

Oliver Daniels, CEO of Insight:   

“The Digital Revolution may have a bigger global economic impact than that of the Industrial Revolution. Ireland has pushed its way to the forefront of the big data age and now must lead the way in ensuring that democracy and human rights are not pushed aside in the rush to capitalise on this vast new resource.”

The Magna Carta discussion document will be presented as part of a series of events including a seminar, dinner and bilateral meetings with EU institutions.





Among the Irish delegation will be Oliver Daniels, CEO of Insight Centre for Data Analytics;  Dr James Browne, President of NUI Galway; Professor Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University; Professor Alan Harvey, Vice President of Research and Innovation, Dublin City University; Professor Anita Maguire, Vice President for Research and Innovation, University College Cork; Professor Orla Feely, Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact at University College Dublin and Mike Devane, Co-Chair of the Insight Governance Committee.

The six lead researchers from Insight will present their research at the February 4 seminar in Thon Hotel EU.

Insight Centre for Data Analytics

Insight Centre for Data Analytics was established in 2013 following a €88 million investment by Science Foundation Ireland, its largest investment to date. Data analytics research is a key economic priority for the Irish government.

The Centre brings together data analytics research activity at four lead institutions and number of associate institutions. At 350 researchers, Insight is one of the largest data analytics research centres in the world.

Insight has projects in a wide range of areas including connected health, semantic web, social media analytics, sensors, security, arts and heritage, sport, transport and logistics and public administration. 

The joint lead institutions are Dublin City University, NUI Galway, University College Cork and University College Dublin.

Through the SFI-funded Research Centres call, Insight has become a single brand and entity with a critical mass of research competence that will serve as an international beacon for the science and application of Big Data Analytics. Insight works closely with industry partners to develop next-generation data acquisition and analytics solutions for important and diverse application areas. The Insight Centre is designed to provide a national ICT research platform for Ireland based on world-class targeted research programmes.


Insight in Europe

Data Analytics is a key policy area for Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme to date with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) – in addition to the private investment that this money will attract. It promises more breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market.

Ireland has set a target to secure €1.25bn in Horizon 2020 funding. SFI wants the new SFI-funded research centres, including Insight, to play a large part in reaching this target. Insight’s representation in Brussels on February 3/4 2015 is a major step-up for Ireland on the European research arena. Insight has the capacity to co-ordinate the European data analytics project.

As well as the February 4th seminar the Insight delegation will hold a series of bilateral events including a meeting with the office of the EU Commissioner for Research, Technology and Information.

Insight Seminar  - What’s it about?

On 4 February 2015, the Insight Centre for Data Analytics will host a seminar titled ‘Insight: Frontier Data Analytics’ at Thon Hotel EU in Brussels.

The work of Insight and its leadership role in empowering a data-driven society to enable better decisions by individuals, communities, business and governments will be presented and will offer a practical case study on the challenges and opportunities in Big Data.

The seminar will explore the science and applications for society of Big Data Analytics and will include contributions from key experts from the Insight partner institutions as well as European Commission officials, MEPs, academia, and industry representatives.

The seminar will examine how evolving technologies will optimise the use of data and its applications in key areas, such as health, energy efficiency, the environment, telecommunications, transportation, logistics, internet commerce, life sciences, transportation, network management, supply chain management, and so forth. For example, one theme of the seminar will be the ‘measured self’: as populations age and healthcare costs increase, there will be a greater emphasis on monitoring prevention and maintaining wellness in future, with patients taking a more active role – sometimes called Health 2.0.

The seminar will also explore the impact of the future and enabling regulatory environment, including the potential impact of the data protection regulation on both technologies under development as well as their applications.


Insight Lead Researchers


Professor Brian Caulfield

Professor Padraig Cunningham

Professor Stefan Decker

Professor Barry O’Sullivan

Professor Alan Smeaton

Professor Barry Smyth


Press Release
Publication Date: 
Tuesday, 3 February, 2015