Scientists Call for Proper Utilisation of Data to Change the Fortune of Our World

Patterns, trends and projections are all elements common to big data analytics and fortune-telling. Though the two are different phenomena, at the very core, they both utilise information to anticipate future occurrences.

Championing the cause to leverage present-day data to forecast and plan for a better tomorrow, members of the Faculty of Science, University of Lagos (UNILAG) hosted a special seminar on the topic; “Modelling Complex Systems in the Era of Big Data” on Thursday, March 23, 2023.

The seminar was delivered by Dr. Caston Sigauke, a renowned expert in the field of applied statistics, from the Department of Mathematics and Computational Science, University of Venda, South Africa.

At the beginning of the seminar, Dr. Caston highlighted the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in complex systems modelling. He emphasized that complex systems are inherently interdisciplinary and that successful modelling requires input from experts in multiple fields, including statistics, mathematics, computer science, physics, biology, and social science.

He gave an overview of the current state of complex systems modelling, explaining the three (3) different types of data encountered in modelling, which are wide data, tall data and wide & tall data.

He emphasized that the exponential growth of data in recent years has opened up new avenues for understanding complex systems, but has also created new challenges for data management, analysis, and interpretation.

Dr. Caston shared some of the key techniques and applications in modelling complex systems, such as: probabilistic load forecasting, hierarchical clusters, max-stable processes, among others. He highlighted the challenges and opportunities presented by the era of big data.

According to him some of the challenges posed by the evolution of the electric grid, complex climate extremes, complex energy crises etc. can be modelled with human actives and thus controlled through targeted planning.

Using a study he conducted with other experts as a case study, “Nemukula, M.M., Sigauke, C., Chikoore, H. and Bere, A. (2023). Modelling Draught Risk Using Bivariate Spatial Extremes: Application to the Lowveld Limpopo region of South Africa, Climate, vol. 11, no. 2, 46, pp. 1-24”, Dr. Caston Sigauke discussed the application of max-stable processes on modelling the spatio-temporal dependence in forecasting weather and climate extremes such as heat waves, droughts and floods. The study proffered answers to questions about how deficient rainfall and extremely high temperature spatially influence drought risk.

It was concluded from the study that human activities are necessary interactions required to reduce the potential impacts of compound precipitation and temperature extremes.

In acknowledgment of the important role played by experts in multiple fields to achieve successful modelling, Professor Emmanuel T. Idowu, of the Department of Zoology, UNILAG, expressed the willingness of researchers in the department to collaborate with Dr. Caston et al in determining the prevalence of mosquitoes during raining season among other viable research interests related to modelling.

In the same vein, Dr. Peter A. Adeonipekun of the Department of Botany, UNILAG, who is also the Chairman of the Planning Committee for Seminars in the Faculty of Science, called for the knowledge of modelling complex systems to be utilised in forecasting the capacity of electricity needed in communities thus making room for the expansion of the community over time and reducing the amount of financial and electronic waste (e-waste) generated from lower capacity transformers that blow up regularly because the inhabitants of the communities these transformers service have increased in number.

He congratulated all students studying statistics who were present at the seminar for the peculiarity of their chosen field and encouraged them to explore various ways to make the best of their study as theirs is a field which is applicable in all walks of life.

The seminar, which was anchored by Dr. Kelechi Njokwu of the Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, was well attended by undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as notable members of the Faculty of Science.

Ultimately, the seminar was a valuable opportunity for students, researchers, and practitioners in the field of complex systems modelling and other disciplines to learn from a published expert in the field.

The genius, who invented the light bulb, phonograph, and motion picture camera, Thomas A. Edison, once said; “Good fortune is what happens when opportunity meets with planning”. This rings true for the call that scientists at the special seminar hosted by the Faculty of Science, University of Lagos (UNILAG) have made to researchers, policy makers and ministries in charge of implementation of policies. The charge is to invest in proper collection, storage, study and utilization of data to bring good fortune to the world we live in.

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