As the amount of digital information being produced expands exponentially, innovative Big Data analytical tools are finding new ways to put it to good use.
We are producing data at an ever-increasing rate. But what good is all this information if we don’t know how to analyze it and put it to productive use — to discover cures, predict maintenance failures or keep traffic flowing?
The fact is, we’re generating data so rapidly, and in such large datasets, that traditional analytical methods are not capable of making sense of this “Big Data.” As recently as 1992, global Internet traffic was creating about 100 gigabytes (GB) of data a day. Two decades later, data generation had exploded to 28,875 GB of data per second in 2013, including 204 million emails sent across the globe — each carrying a vast framework of data. By 2018, traffic is expected to reach 50,000 GB per second.
Big Data has become incredibly useful, improving decision-making capabilities by monitoring and analyzing activities to generate predictions. The impact has been far-reaching, for both society and industry. Airlines are using data for everything from identifying seating and eating preferences of customers to determining the most efficient route. Analysis of transport data through GPS and social media is allowing traffic-management agencies to warn drivers about potential travel times and alternative routes. Even crime in Los Angeles has been reduced with the help of Big Data — including a 21 percent drop in violent crime — the result of an analysis of more than 130 million crimes over the last 30 years.
One of the biggest impacts has been seen in healthcare, as myriad apps and data-management tools empower consumers to monitor their lifestyles closely. More than two thirds of adults in the U.S. and U.K. track their health, with many making lifestyle choices as a result of the data.
All this data generates new policy questions, as well, which we’re just beginning to grapple with. How to balance privacy and security with public good? How to most securely and effectively return government to the people through the open data movement? How to empower people to use the data they generate, for health and other purposes?
This infographic by voucher cloud Illustrates how massive amount of data we produce every day is improving our everyday lives:
Data graphic: produced by voucher cloud
(Top image: Courtesy of Thinkstock)