Big data and human geography:
Opportunities, challenges and risks.
Dialogues in Human Geography, 3 (3).
We are entering an era of big data – data sets that are characterised by high volume, velocity, variety,
exhaustivity, resolution and indexicality, relationality and flexibility. Much of these data are spatially and
temporally referenced and offer many possibilities for enhancing geographical understanding, including for
post-positivist scholars. Big data also, however, poses a number of challenges and risks to geographic scho-
larship and raises a number of taxing epistemological, methodological and ethical questions. Geographers
need to grasp the opportunities whilst at the same time tackling the challenges, ameliorating the risks and
thinking critically about big data as well as conducting big data studies. Failing to do so could be quite costly
as the discipline gets left behind as others leverage insights from the growing data deluge.
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