The new VERA Centre aims at improving resilience in economics and society, preventing, predicting, measuring, and managing risks thanks to the use of big data sources. Big data has changed the way that we understand existing social challenges, and it has created entirely new research questions, which call for advances in science. The goal of the VERA Centre is to investigate these new questions focusing on three main thematic macro-areas of interest in public policy making: welfare and wellbeing, environment, macroeconomics and finance.
Analysis of social risks related to welfare system and wellbeing
The challenge is to understand how to ensure economic growth and social wellbeing for a socio-economic system with complex structure and dynamics. The complexity of the relationships between markets, institutions and public authorities makes the decision process even more difficult. A first response to this challenge is the opportunity to analyse and integrate big data from different sources (individual micro-data, experimental data, big data from administrative records, georeferenced data, etc.) to support the decision making process.
Analysis of financial and macro-economic risks
Analysis and evaluation of financial and macroeconomic risks, also in cooperation with financial authorities. The activity and regulation of financial markets produce a large amount of data that can be an essential source of information for a deep understanding of the agent behaviour and the markets dynamics. Big data can be used in the supervisory activity to measure and manage financial risks and market instabilities.
Analysis of main environmental risks and related impacts evaluation
Economic analysis at territorial level for disaster risk assessment and management, including the analysis of the different physical, social, economic and environmental factors or processes such as climate change, overconsumption of natural resources, poverty and inequality. Big data from sensor networks and from social media provide the opportunity to improve disaster risk prediction and management.
The three thematic macro-areas are organised in a series of specific topics:
- Blockchain and crypto-currencies
- Climate change
- Climate data and insurance
- Digital banking and high frequency trading
- Health and welfare
- Smart agrifood and sustainability
- Smart cities and energy efficiency
The VERA Centre will boost research carried out within the existing research centres of the Department of Economics such as the Center for Experimental Research in Management and Economics (CERME), the Netspar-Italy Interuniversity Center (CINTIA) and the International Center for Economics and Finance (ICEF).
From a methodological point of view, the research activity of the Centre requires the development of:
- new methods and econometrics models for the analysis of large databases, high frequency data and georeferenced data, taking into particular consideration the interaction with other disciplines such as statistics, mathematics and machine learning;
- agent based model and multi-agent model for simulating interactions among heterogeneous actors to evaluate effects and impacts on the policy decisions system;
- lab and field experiments is a prerequisite for the link between different techniques of data collection, data analysis and data modelling in economic and social fields.
Researchers at the Department of Economics already have experience and produce scientific results in these fields making it possible to develop frontier research, and applied research over the five years of the project (and beyond).
In order to develop experimental activities and to use big data, the new research Centre is making important investments in information infrastructure for calculation and data storage, laboratories for experiments and active learning lab, data bases and cloud computing.
In particular, the project plans the following actions:
- Strengthening the cluster for calculation [ITA] (CPUs, storage);
- Access to financial and macroeconomics data (Datastream, European Datawarehouse) and high frequency data bases;
- Access to Planet Labs, for satellite data, social network data, mobile phone data (where possible);
- Replacement and strengthening the hardware of experimental lab (workstations, eye tracking tools and skin conductance responses);
- Software for experiment design and implementation (lab and web based experiments);
- Strengthening storage and data protection tools in order to guarantee a proper experiment implementation.
The new Centre, in synergy with the Ca’ Foscari strategic actions, plans the following strategy for developing and attracting international talents:
- recruiting academic staff from the international market, also through direct call recruitment;
- attracting Marie Curie fellows and ERC grantees working in any field of the Centre, providing appropriate infrastructures, potential collaborations and accompanying measures;
- financing visiting positions for variable and renewable periods of time in line with the international practice of the Chairs of Excellence that includes training activities, development of joint projects thanks also to the possibility of hiring research fellows and postdocs