ReAgent is a Corporate Partner of the Science Museum and we are frequently invited to events at both the Science Museum in London and the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester. The latest exhibition at the Science Museum, Our Lives in Data, piqued my interest so I decided to go to London and check it out.
Our Lives in Data is an exhibition about the diverse ways data is being collected, analysed and used. Whether or not we are aware of it, an ever-increasing amount of data is being collected all around us. Combining this data shows patterns which reveal things we haven’t been able to see before.
The exhibition was divided into areas like travel and healthcare. For whatever reason, I had assumed that the exhibition wouldn’t have been very hands-on, however I was pleasantly surprised to find it was quite interactive. There were a variety of quizzes, videos and a facial recognition device which estimated your age and mood. It got me thinking about all the data which is at our fingertips nowadays and the best way to use this information for the greater good.
Transport to the Science Museum
Transport for London (TfL) was featured prominently. TfL manages 300,000,000 journeys around London every month. The data it collects is used to understand who wants to go where and when. Identifying patterns helps provide a better service to customers and shapes future developments like the location of new stations and routes. There was a featured story from 1939 when they collected 4 million tickets in three days. It took six months to read and sort the journeys by hand. Today Transport for London can sort 4 million bus journeys in just 0.4 seconds.
Another area of the exhibition was dedicated to DNA-reading. Similar to transport, the speed at which we can undertake research in this area has moved on at pace over the last few decades. It used to take 10 years to complete a set of DNA, whereas it now takes just a few days. And projects like the 100,000 Genomes Project is sequencing the DNA of patients with rare diseases and cancer to help find possible causes.
Data Protection & Encryption
Another angle of the exhibition included data privacy and security. Many people won’t realise but the Apps on your phone look through your emails, call logs and location history to learn more about you. This data is then sold to other companies without your knowledge. To serve a relatively new niche, there are phone available like the Cryptophone which use encryption algorithms to protect your data. There are also weird and wonderful inventions like paint which blocks WiFi signals.
I really enjoyed the event. Our Lives In Data is running until 1st September. More information can be found on the Science Museum website here http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/visitmuseum/Plan_your_visit/exhibitions/our-lives-in-data.