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The Importance Of Big Data After Brexit

As the UK economy and political system is in crisis, could big data help?

24Jun

Britain has been rocked by the EU referendum result and the implications of what it means in the long term are yet to be seen. In the short term we can see that the Pound has crashed to pre-1985 levels, Scotland is likely to leave the UK (taking close to 10% of the country's total GDP with it), estate agents are predicting a 20% drop in house prices across the country and rumours abound of Morgan Stanley already moving 2,000 jobs abroad.

With David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, resigning after calling the referendum in the first place, the country is also facing leadership issues in what seems like an increasingly dark time for the country.

There is considerable anger for those under 50 too (who will be impacted the hardest and for the longest), with voting data showing that the vast majority voted remain whilst the majority over that age voted to leave. In a democratic society, this is simply something that is always necessary, even if it seems unfair on those who will bear the brunt of the decision when they didn't agree to it.

In the face of all of this though, there may be a glimmer of light if the new government is willing to use data effectively to create new deals, protocols and laws.

At present, laws are generally set through opinion and lobbying rather than fact. Look at the facts behind the gun control laws in the US, currently the subject of sit ins from Democrats due to a lack of reform following several mass shootings. Laws limiting gun use across the world, in places like the UK and Australia have significantly decreased the amount of gun crime, yet primarily due to lobbying, they are not being enacted in the US.

However, Britain has the opportunity to use data to create effective laws, policies and legislation based on sound facts rather the political rhetoric. Laws can now be enacted from the huge amount of public data that the UK holds. Rather than policing based on archaic laws, with the amount of reform needed, an entire law system could theoretically be based around real numbers rather than political will.

Another aspect that the new government will need to deal with is that they have little to no plans for this scenario. One of the major criticisms of the leave campaign has been that they haven't set out any real scenarios in their campaigning, but arguably, data could now help them both prioritize what needs to be done and the best way to do it. It will be needed given the huge amount that needs to be done and the relatively short time in which to do it.

However, one of the key elements is going to be reconciling a completely divided nation.

During the campaign itself things became so toxic that the polarized viewpoints from both sides seem to be almost irreparable. Unfortunately the rifts after the increasingly aggressive and divisive campaign seem insurmountable, but through the use of data it could be possible. Thanks to voter data, online activity and even social media analytics, it is possible to identify areas of consensus and attempt to build bridges amongst divided communities.

The process is not going to be easy and even with the use of data it will take many years to get Britain back to where it was prior to June 23rd 2016. However, with the use of data the UK will have a better chance of repairing the undoubtedly huge self-inflicted economic damage.

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