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Philip Gillingham

Big data approaches are being developed to support decision making and identify the most vulnerable service users in the social welfare sector. However, their application has been problematic and, in some cases, controversial. In this chapter, using several examples from around the world, the challenges of using big data approaches in the sector are outlined, particularly in relation to the quality and nature of the data available in public sector databases and how algorithmically supported decisions can be accounted for. Ideas for how to proceed with big data and for conducting research to study how the tools derived from big data are used in day to day practice are also suggested.