Data Explosion opens Wayne State’s presidential symposia series

DETROIT – In honor of Wayne State University’s Sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) Celebration, President M. Roy Wilson is presenting a six-part symposia series featuring topics that reflect Wayne State’s rich legacy of excellence in academics and research. The first topic in the series is “Data Explosion: Societal Benefits and Risks,” a set of diverse discussions and learnings about ways to harness the ongoing eruption of data while managing the risks in our data-driven reality.

This full-day symposium is a collaboration between Wayne State University's Office of the Vice President for Research, the College of Engineering, and Computing and Information Technology. The program begins at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 21, in the Student Center Ballroom on the university’s Midtown Detroit campus.

“By most estimates, the amount of data in the world is doubling every two years and provides major opportunities,” said Patrick Gossman, Ph.D., Wayne State’s deputy chief information officer. “On the other hand, turning mountains of data into usable information is a major challenge, as is ensuring responsible use, security and protection of privacy.”

As a reflection of the vast number of domains data intersects, the symposium will cover topics including health care, business analytics, public safety, water quality, personal privacy and legality, and our overall understanding of the universe. This event, as well as the future symposia in the series, is intended for the general community; Wayne State students, faculty, staff and alumni are all welcome, as are guests from other institutions, government, businesses and the general public.

Keynote speakers include Professor Joseph Turow, Ph.D., from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, and Nick Curcuru, vice president of global big data practice at Mastercard. Turow will discuss the rise of the internet over the last 20 years, the data it has created based on our everyday activities and what happens to that data — good and bad. Curcuru will share his best practices for implementing and managing large-scale advanced analytics projects for some of the world’s largest companies. These practices include incorporating privacy by design to build confidence and trust without having to abandon personal values for the sake of innovation and convenience.

Expert panelists will discuss their research in such areas as how data analysis can distinguish aggressiveness levels of cancer, the use of crime data and statistics to improve public safety, increased protection of Michigan’s water resources through real-time monitoring systems, and how the Higgs boson “God particle” helps us understand the laws of physics. A second panel will cover legal rights regarding personal data, how to protect personal data and what to do when data privacy is violated.

The event is free and lunch is included. For reservations or more information, visit


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