Big Data: Do it together!

After a word of welcome from Boudewijn Haverkort (chairman Commit2Data), the conference was kicked off by Jaya Baloo, Chief Information Security Officer at KPN. She primarily reflected on the challenges associated with Big Data in the areas of privacy and cyber security.

'Big Data does not necessarily provide the answer to many problems,' said Baloo at the start of her keynote speech. 'Rather, the converse is true. With Big Data, we now have an answer that is looking for problems to tackle.' The security expert from KPN called upon the participants to work together on data solutions. 'That is the "holy grail" in the field of Big Data. The moment when we manage to create a modus operandi together, in which data can be jointly processed and further developed instead of a range of different solutions for a diverse range of platforms. Let’s do it together!'

The Netherlands needs to perform better

When René Penning de Vries (figurehead Team ICT) asked what impact a small country like the Netherlands can have on global ICT issues Baloo replied: 'Just like KPN, the Netherlands is not the biggest player in the world. Size is not our strength. We must perform better. We need to continually develop in this respect, for example by finding new answers to questions such as: how can we deal with malware that tears entire companies apart and how can we improve the protection of our intellectual property against hackers?'


After the plenary opening, delegates set to work in five different workshops with the themes Energy, Smart Industry, Life Sciences & Health, Data Handling & Analytics, and Big Data Hubs. The hub for the creative industry is located in the ArenA. The director of the Amsterdam data hub, Jan Wester, explained how the participating parties in the hub are working on data applications in a safe and non-competitive environment. 'Here we provide conditions under which all parties can flourish and share the available facilities with each other.'

In the Data Handling & Analytics session, Robert Saxby (Google Cloud) presented the possibilities of machine learning. 'The possibilities of machine learning are endless,' according to Saxby, who gave a presentation with TNO's Freek Bomhof. 'Machine learning is now reaching the application phase, because large datasets are becoming available. This is resulting in good models and improving calculations.' Will van der Aast (Eindhoven University of Technology) subsequently reflected on the subject of process mining. 'The missing link between data science and process science.'

Workshops on the theme Energy considered the transition towards the future energy network and the vital role that Big Data will play in this. Richard Beekhuis of TNO emphasised that, within this field, all scenarios must be examined, not just the sunny day ones.

During the health sessions, it was emphasised that healthcare is focusing far too much on "repair" and far too little on prevention and solutions for chronic conditions. Subsequently, ideas in the area of personalised health and self-management were presented during 11 pitches.

Commit2Data Health Call Data2Person

During the health session, NWO presented and opened a new Commit2Data call in the area of Big Data and Health: Data2Person. With this call in the Commit2Data programme, NWO, ZonMw and the Ministry of Economic Affairs are encouraging Big Data research (Data Science) so that, in collaboration with public and private partners as well as various scientific disciplines, a contribution can be made to the development of effective, efficient and responsible personal empowerment methods for a healthy society in the future.

Demo space

During the workshops, visitors could network while enjoying a snack in a purpose-built demo space. In the demo space, TNO, Big Data Value Center, Google, Het Kadaster, Linked Data Platform, Dutch Techcenter for Life Sciences (DTL), Data Science Platform Nederland (DSPN), SURFsara, Rijkswaterstaat, the Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC) and Smart Play Sets gave demonstrations. In addition, speed dates were organised between participants at the conference and innovative researchers and entrepreneurs. Illustrator Elisabeth van der Spek made unique drawings of the conference.

Closing debate

The day was concluded with a closing debate in which Penning de Vries, Ron Roozendaal (CIO, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport), Geert-Jan Houben (Professor Web Information Systems, Delft University of Technology), Rinie van Est (Rathenau Institute) and Anne Bruinsma (founder FarmHack.NL) took part. The debate was moderated by the host of the day, Arie van Bellen (ECP | Platform voor de InformatieSamenleving).

Bruinsma reminded the audience that they belonged to the happy few. 'The minority who understand what Big Data encompasses and the possibilities and challenges associated with it. We have the responsibility to make this accessible to a wider public. I think that we can make a considerable difference in the area of education, in particular.'

Van Est described technology as 'the biggest ideology on earth'. 'It is an ideology that is convinced it can make the world a better place. However, we must not forget that we need more than just technology to make innovations possible.' De Vries took this a step further: 'Indeed, it must also consider ownership and responsibility; the parts that people and organisations play in society. ICT touches upon each layer in society, but genuine innovation needs time. We must take the time to discuss things properly and even to make mistakes. We should not seek to speed up innovation too much.'


Commit2Data is a long-term national research and innovation programme on the basis of public-private partnership that has been created to bring researchers and entrepreneurs together and to further investigate new Big Data business models and opportunities. The partners of Commit2Data are NWO, TNO, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and ECP | Platform voor de InformatieSamenleving.

Download presentations:
Opening and closing presentation
Health presentations
Presentation Marjan Popov
Presentation Paul van Kempen
Presentation Pieter den Hamer, Han la Poutré
Presentation Richard Beekhuis
Presentation Robert Saxby