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Ulster University’s Magee campus hosted the European Union funded ‘Big Data for Health Policy Symposium’ on the 20th and 21st of January.

The event welcomed a wide range of experts from academia and business to Derry~Londonderry, and through workshops and co-design sessions will seek to address the needs of health policymakers and citizens through the delivery of a unified big data platform.

The event concludes the tenure of the Ulster University led ‘The Meaningful Integration of Data, Analytics and Services’ (MIDAS) research programme which was awarded over 4.5 million euros in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 programme.

The programme, led by Ulster University since 2016 enables attendees to tap into unstructured and unconnected healthcare data to better inform policy, reduce costs and improve health and wellbeing of the population.

The free to attend event included contributions from health policy departments from Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Basque Country and Finland, and provided training and development workshops around the value of data, data science, GDPR & the Honest Broker Model.

Lead researcher and overall project co-ordinator from Ulster University, Dr Michaela Black, said:

"We are proud to bring the highly reputable ‘Big Data for Health Policy Symposium’ to the Magee Campus, providing a fitting conclusion to our stewardship of the research project for the last four years. With the project due to complete in February 2020, this is the last face to face event, comprising a large consortium of more than 60 academics, industrialists and policy makers from across Europe and America.

The event will not only bring consortium associates, but extended health practitioners and acclaimed policy leads to the prestigious event.  We are delighted that the additional five H2020 funded PM18 projects from Europe could also join us  to share and compare our Big Data findings."

The overall MIDAS project goal is to connect more heterogeneous data sets to better inform policy, reduce costs and improve health and wellbeing of the population, and through sessions on areas of AI, Big Data and Ethics, attendees were  able to examine the application of data to public policy outcomes.

The event was designed to be enjoyable and useful for both technical and non-technical stakeholders, and provided an insight into how participatory design methods can make technology more effective and meaningful for individuals and organisations.

The MIDAS platform investigates connecting open data and data from European health authorities with individual data collected from apps and social media. Complying with the highest standards of data protection and ethics, the data is analysed on the MIDAS platform, which provides a tool for policy makers to benchmark, simulate and forecast outcomes of healthcare policy decisions.