All about Big Data – leading political pollster gives talk at Greenwich


One of the UK’s leading political pollsters, who is tracking key trends in the latest Election campaign, shared his expertise on Big Data at a University of Greenwich talk.

Joe Twyman, the co-founder and director of public opinion consultancy Deltapoll, has given a talk on Big Data, which has been described as 'the next big thing'.

Today, more data is being collected than ever before. Every time a person shops online, posts on Facebook, or uses Google, data is being captured, and there are ever-evolving ways of obtaining this data.

With more than a decade of experience of working with Big Data, Joe will take an in-depth look at what it is, its evolution and how it can be used to understand everything from voting choices to sexual behaviour.

Although the term has been in use for some time, there is no single definition for what it means, as Joe explains: "In the same way that the internet can mean many different things – social media, online shopping, Tinder, or Netflix – Big Data also means different things to different people.

"Regardless of how you view it, though, what is clear is that the amount of data available is significantly more than what was available ten years ago, or even five years ago, and the implications of this are enormous.

"Like the internet, Big Data is neither inherently good nor bad – it just depends of how it gets used. You only have to look at Brexit, or the 2016 US presidential election, to see occasions where the use of Big Data has proved controversial, but it is also a great resource and can help us understand the world in which we live. For political research, for example, the demographic information available can provide a detailed way of predicting how people will vote.

"Deltapoll is currently tracking the upcoming General Election and our latest results show that the Conservatives are leading on 40 per cent, ahead of Labour on 28 per cent. We only at the beginning of the campaign, however, so this could all change."

Joe previously worked as the head of political and social research at YouGov and was a director at the founding of the company back in 2000.

He has published a number of academic research papers, worked as project director for the last five British Election Studies and regularly provides expert analysis for TV, radio and newspapers both at home and abroad.

Joe Twyman: Vampires, Magic Wands and Pret-a-Manger, Learning About 'Big Data' is part of the Big Picture seminar series and took place at the University of Greenwich on Wednesday 13 November. For more information about the Big Picture seminars, visit: