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Big data for public health

The analysis of ‘big data’ (large-scale, anonymised data sets) is profoundly changing the world. Aside from applications within our own company, Vodafone’s data scientists are also working on projects analysing how big data can be used to provide decision support to tackle problems of societal importance.

We recently worked with King’s College London to predict the wellbeing of individuals in the UK based upon where they live and work. The project maintained the highest privacy and security standards in line with our global privacy policy.

We used data from the Office for National Statistics, which surveys wellbeing through four measures: life satisfaction; sense of worth; happiness; and anxiety level. We also used Foursquare data and large, anonymised mobile usage data sets.

Our machine learning-based predictive models indicated that people with the highest wellbeing are likely to live near pubs and those with the lowest wellbeing near offices and fried chicken restaurants.  

A better understanding of wellbeing can assist people as they make life choices. Imran Kahn, the student from King’s College London who initiated the research project, has now joined Vodafone as a data scientist and in the future, we would like to expand this study to analyse human behavioural factors that play a role on wellbeing.