One of the most pressing and fascinating challenges scientists face today, is understanding the complexity of our globally interconnected society. The big data arising from the digital breadcrumbs of human activities promise to let us scrutinize the ground truth of individual and collective behaviour at an unprecedented detail and scale. There is an urgent need to harness these opportunities for scientific advancement and for the social good. The main obstacle to this accomplishment, besides the scarcity of data scientists, is the lack of a large-scale open infrastructure, where big data and social mining research can be carried out.
To this end, SoBigData proposes to create the Social Mining & Big Data Ecosystem: a research infrastructure (RI) providing an integrated ecosystem for ethic-sensitive scientific discoveries and advanced applications of social data mining on the various dimensions of social life, as recorded by “big data”. Building on several established national infrastructures, SoBigData will open up new research avenues in multiple research fields, including mathematics, ICT, and human, social and economic sciences, by enabling easy comparison, re-use and integration of state-of-the-art big social data, methods, and services, into new research. It will not only strengthen the existing clusters of excellence in social data mining research, but also create a pan-European, inter-disciplinary community of social data scientists, fostered by extensive training, networking, and innovation activities. In addition, as an open research infrastucture, SoBigData will promote repeatable and open science. Although SoBigData is primarily aimed at serving the needs of researchers, the openly available datasets and open source methods and services provided by the new research infrastructure will also impact industrial and other stakeholders (e.g. government bodies, non-profit organisations, funders, policy makers).