Table of Contents
This chapter introduces us to what is called “Big Data”. In our times of the Internet and other advanced technologies, it is important to understand how our own data is tracked and used. It gives us insights into the world of Data where every individual’s online activities are monitored and the data thus collected is then put to use for various purposes.
Sources of Big Data
Every time we click on a certain link and are directed to a particular website on the Internet, our movements are monitored. Similarly, when we shop online from e-commerce platforms, the applications keep track of our preferences and even our measurements.
The choice of the content that we consume from various streaming platforms like Netflix, is also recorded. Not only this, even the simple keywords that we type in the search bars of Internet browsers like Google are also kept in records. The smart devices we use in everyday life also track our data.
Who records this Data and Why?
The question now is, why is such information recorded and by whom. This collected information is called “Big Data” because it is a huge amount of data of billions of people. It is then used by industries and companies to understand the needs, preferences and patterns of the people. To understand and analyse such huge amounts of data, the process of Big Data Analytics is used. It studies the collected data to uncover some hidden patterns, unknown correlations, market trends and customer preferences.
Uses of Big Data
Big Data is important to nearly every organisation or industry that knows how to use it to their advantage. Some such organisations or fields are as follows.
- Location Tracking: The Big Data has made it possible for us to have beforehand information about traffic jams and accident prone areas. This enables us to make wiser choices of routes and thus saves our time. Similarly, we can check the status of a product we ordered online by tracking its location. This has made online shopping hassle-free and convenient.
- Understanding the Weather Patterns : Scientists use the data collected from satellites to understand patterns of weather change. This helps them to predict or foresee the possibilities of floods, tsunamis etc. Immediate precautionary measures can thus be taken based on this forecast. This saves many lives as it makes us better prepared to cope with such disasters.
- Health Care Industry : Data related to our health is saved in devices like smart watches that we wear or even in the applications in our smart phones. These function as our mini biomedical research devices. They keep us informed of our blood sugar levels, sleeping patterns, heart rates or even the number of steps we walk in a day. This enables one to better understand one’s health complications. This data is also of immense value to pharmaceutical companies, who then commission research based on the health data of a huge population.
- Banking, Finance and Trading : The data of how customers like to invest their money is of use to banks, who then offer investment plans accordingly. It makes functioning of the banks smooth and even helps in preventing cyber crimes and frauds. Similar fraudulent activities can also be traced in the financial markets by monitoring the collected data. The data of what gets sold quicker and what products are least in demand, helps trade organisations to make related decisions accordingly.
- Sports: The data of each player in a cricket or football match is of immense use to the player to reflect on one’s performance. This history of one’s performance on the pitch or ground also helps the entire team. Interestingly, even the sports equipment are potential sources of useful data because they are now fitted with sensors. The data of various videos recorded during a match is helpful as the clippings can be later used for Data analytics to track even the minutest movements of the players.
- Advertising: Big Data has proved a boon for advertising companies. An individual’s history of online purchases or even Google searches help the advertising companies to run targeted campaigns. One’s Facebook or Instagram feed is filled with ads of the same or similar items as one’s liking.
- Entertainment and Media : It is common to see videos with headings like “Suggested for you” or “Recommended Videos” on YouTube. This is made possible because a record of what kind of video content we watch on YouTube or even Netflix is maintained. This also helps the Entertainment industry to analyse which shows get better viewership. Consequently, more advertising companies are willing to advertise during these shows in order to generate increased revenues.
- Education Industry : The Education industry knows just as well how to benefit from Big Data. A record of the way students study and what aids they use more to understand their concepts is useful to the Education industry. This makes it possible to design course material accordingly.
It would be justified to think of Big Data as a genie in our hands. Most organisations owe their success to Big Data. If utilised in ethical ways, Big Data will continue to benefit humans.