Have you ever stopped to think about the amount of data you generate on a day-to-day basis?
Probably not, but when you actually consider it, we’re creating more data as individuals than ever before and sometimes without even knowing we’re doing it. Just reading this article for instance, did you realize you’re creating data in doing so?
What about when you make a telephone call or send an SMS? When you search for something online or buy something at the supermarket? How about when you use public transport or update your social networks on your daily commute? Even when you’re relaxing watching television or out exercising you are creating data.
The unprecedented volume of data we’ve been creating has been labeled “Big Data”, which in the simplest term just means a lot of data. To put it in context, 500 times more data was generated in 2012 compared to the total volume that was produced from the dawn of time right up until a decade ago. And it’s still growing; by 2015 the amount of data we’re producing will be three times that of 2012.
That’s a lot of data. But why should you care? Data is for geeks and businesses, so what possible impact could it have on your day-to-day life?
Big Data is moving society to places it’s never been before. Through increased data analysis we’re about to embark upon a new era of capabilities, which will revolutionize each and every aspect of our lives, and in some cases already is.
If you don’t care about all this data now, you may soon.
A Life Saver
Take healthcare, for instance, where Big Data is reshaping medical practices to deliver more accurate and effective treatments, which can be rapidly developed at lower risks and costs.
Previously, medical experiments were lengthy and costly processes. Today however, medical professionals are able to rapidly conduct an increasing range of experiments using the volumes of current and historic data available to deliver improved results.
We’ve one living proof of the positive impact data analysis is having on healthcare right here at Intel.
John Hengeveld, marketing director of high performance computing at Intel uses his real-life example to explain how computer simulations help cure diseases with high-resolution results at lower cost and risk. An appendix attack sent John to surgery and the doctors found that his appendix had burst and spread a material that was extremely rare and when spread can cause cancer. It was thanks to a combination of computing analysis along with doctor and patient collaboration that found an effective treatment that helped John stay as healthy and fit as he is today.
What about how data analysis is empowering us to be more “green”?
Big Data is allowing us to improve energy efficiency to ensure the wellbeing of our global environment for future generations. By installing a range of “smart” technologies, such as sensors, metering systems and home management systems, across the entire power grid – from generation to delivery – utility companies are gathering unprecedented volumes of data delivering a comprehensive insight into network performance. This not only allows better management and use of the precious resources, it empowers utilities to deliver an improved service to customers; a win-win situation for all involved.
To investigate the impact Big Data can have on energy efficiency, Intel set up Pecan Street Inc, a nonprofit consortium collaborating on testing, piloting, and commercializing smart grid technologies – since launching two years ago we have gathered over 80GB of data from sensor systems in the Mueller community of Austin, Texas.
Through the insight gleaned we aim to drive new products, services, and economic opportunities – helping to easily and efficiently manage energy consumption – while making homes more comfortable to live in.
Ever thought about how Big Data could be used to improve your commute to work?
Across the globe traffic congestion is worsening – one traffic jam in China lasted a week! Big Data can address traffic problems, and encouragingly, it already is.
Take Da Nang, the biggest city on the South Central Coast of Vietnam, which is working with Intel to build a “smarter city” based on Big Data solutions. The city has a new traffic control center allowing city officials to monitor traffic and control the city’s traffic light system through a dashboard, while software and sensors have been embedded in roads, highways and on buses to track whether there are traffic jams and if the buses are running on time.
A great example of this in action: if there’s an accident causing traffic congestion, traffic lights can be adjusted allowing more time for cars caught up in the jam to pass through. It also means passengers can be quickly told of changes to their bus or train timetables and routes.
And finally, did you know Big Data is revolutionizing the world of sport – from elite athletes right down to occasional runners?
Thanks to the plethora of wearable technologies, tracking systems, and individual and team statistics available, teams and individuals have access to increasing volumes of data providing insight into how performance is impacted by a variety of factors, including length of activity and area on the pitch and the power exerted in each stride right down to the temperature and the individual’s diet.
This detailed level of insight delivers the information needed to optimize performance, prevent injury, and recruit top performing individuals.
Take America’s NBA for instance. Over half of the league’s teams have deployed a data collection service – SportVU – capturing upwards of one million data records from each match. SportVU cameras are synched with complex algorithms extracting positioning data for all objects on the court, which is then processed by Intel powered computers to connect the data to the play-by-play feed delivering a report to the coaches within 90 seconds of a play so they can adjust their strategies accordingly.
Of course, athletes all still need to put in the long hours of hard training and practice, but the marginal gains made possible by data analysis in sport are already delivering. Perhaps you’ve heard of baseball team the Oakland As, which used data analysis to assemble a team that went on to set the current record for the number of consecutive major league baseball games won in a season. Or did you know that when Manchester City won the English Premier League in 2012 their decision to take more in-swinging corners was based upon data analysis revealing that more goals were scored through this approach?
Incredible possibilities, huge opportunities
These are just four examples of how Big Data is already changing the world around us for the better, and with volumes increasing the transformations are only going to get bigger, more innovative and more exciting.
The possibilities are incredible, the opportunities huge, and at Intel we’re working with businesses across a variety of industries to provide a range of technologies – from open software solutions to hardware infrastructures – that deliver the Big Data insights needed to make a real difference to you and the world around us.
The information is already there, and by getting back to basics and effectively looking at the increasing volumes of data all organizations will be well placed to optimize the services and tools they are responsible for providing.
If you thought the Internet changed the world, then it’s time to get really excited about how Big Data can improve our lives.