What is big data ?
Since the explosion of the Internet, data is everywhere: even in places where we don’t expect it. We will see what they are used for, and how they are used: this is the big data.
The BIG DATA: Recording everything
The general idea of big data is to record a lot of data (as much as possible). By the way, if we translate : Big Data, we get something like « Massive Data » or « Important Data ». Here is a small table that explains the volumes of data recorded worldwide (these tables were created using data from « Statista » (a German company specializing in market and consumer data).
|From human birth to 2003||5 EB (1 Exabyte=1000 Terabytes)|
|in 2011||5 EB were produced in 2 days|
|in 2015||42 EB in one day
5 EB were produced in 8 minutes
|in 2020||167 EB in one day
5 TB were produced in 10 seconds
|I let you imagine the rest … Especially now, increasingly people are equipped with smartphones in addition to their computers, that also generate data.|
Who is recording?
Anything and everything can generate data. These data can be recorded to be reused later (or not).
- Quite classic and I think you can imagine:
- The sites you surf on,
- The emails or messages you send or receive,
- The applications of your smartphones,
- Telephone conversations,
- And a few others you may not have known about:
- Your house alarm, if it is connected to a telephone exchange,
- Electric shutters if they can be controlled remotely,
- Thermostats if they are remotely controlled, and in general a lot of home automation equipment.
- And of course, anything that can connect to the Internet, such as :
- Your fitness machines, if they are capable of recording your performance,
- Your connected refrigerators,
- Your connected TVs,
You can see that the list can be very long!
But above all, why do ?
The ultimate goal of this collection is to better know the consumer that we are and to be able to propose products that are always better adapted to our needs, and of course, in the end, to sell us something.
With the help of big data, the products offered will be targeted more subtly and depending on more criteria than those generally used.
I will give you some examples, and you will understand much better.
Let’s start with a very simple example.
You connect to an online shopping site. You choose a digital camera and add it to your shopping cart.
Then the site offers you a choice of memory cards, because you will need them. But it doesn’t offer you just any card:
- Because it knows that you are a photo addict. Indeed, some time ago, you have already searched and purchased items related to digital photography on this same site. He will propose you a card adapted to your needs.
- Other Internet users have bought the same camera as you and have chosen memory cards, the site will offer you the same cards ordered by thousands of Internet users before you.
You are addicted to fitness and you practice at home on your elliptical.
You set it up and it records your weight, height, age and gender.
Every time you use it, it records your heart rate, time spent and calories burned. You log on regularly and you are happy to see that your performance is improving.
As soon as you connect to the Internet, the advertisements you are offered are targeted:
- Vitaminized products for athletes,
- New equipments to equip your fitness room,
- But we could go further:
The company marketing the elliptical bike sells its data file to insurance companies.
These companies make the ratio: height/weight/sex/physical activity: you are in shape, so they offer you reductions on « your health contracts »!
Your refrigerator is connected. It knows that you have a weakness for chocolate, but it also knows all the products you buy because it records everything that goes in and everything that comes out.
All this data is sold to websites. With your eating behaviors and purchases, we can deduce that you are single because you only buy single portions.
Don’t be surprised if you get a lot of advertising for dating clubs and even chocolate date nights.
You arrive in an area you don’t know. Your GPS has done a good job of getting you exactly where you want to go, but it’s connected, and it hasn’t just done that.
You turn on your smartphone, and it suggests the Picasso museum a few kilometers away. What a strange coincidence, a few months ago you had already visited a Picasso museum in another city! Coincidence, did you say ???
Beware, all the examples I have given you are imaginary (although!). Because for the moment, big data is still limited to the internal use of companies. But some companies are starting to sell the information they have recovered and this is only the beginning of a huge data market.
Don’t forget that everything is stored and can be analyzed. This can go as far as your emails witch will then be analyzed to know you better.
Unstructured data, but the 5V.
Storing such a large volume of data requires a review of the way data is stored. Normally to store a large volume of data, we use Databases. However the volume is so large that data treatment can not be possible. We had to rethink the storage workflow. For this new storage mode we have to apply the 5V rules:
- Volume: You need to store a lot of information.
- Variety: You need to store a lot of data of all kinds.
- Velocity: You need to be able to access all this data
- Veracity: The data must be true, otherwise there is no point.
- Value: This data must provide value.
Everyone talks about Big Data, but what is it in concrete terms?
Big Data represents all the information created on the Internet. This data comes from companies, machines and consumers.
Big Data is characterized by what theorists call the 5V :
- Its Volume: every two days we create and index as much information as has been indexed since the beginning of humanity until 2003. Amazing, isn’t it? This is just the beginning !!! The amount of digital data doubles every 1.2 years.
- Its Velocity: if we take only social networks as an example, 6000 tweets are sent every second worldwide, and it would take 15 years to view all the videos uploaded on the Youtube platform in a single day. This flow of information is therefore extremely fast.
- Variety: these data come from a wide variety of sources: sensors, videos, images, social networks, Internet searches, transaction histories and many others.
- Its Veracity: This term represents the analysis of the quality of the Some companies have managed to develop huge data storage systems. The surface used by the data storage units is estimated to be 6000 soccer stadium. However, researchers are facing a major problem which is the development of a powerful software to process and analyze this immense flow of unstructured information. In order to exploit its full potential, this software will have to be able to scan videos and images, interpret their meaning, and make the link between an enormous number of different sources. Moreover, it will have to be able to detect irony in the flow of social network messages to avoid misinterpretations.
- Its Value: Data by itself is not that valuable. The value only comes from the process of collection, preparation and storage, analysis and use. This is called the value chain of big data.
Big data: a huge challenge.
Big Data therefore represents a big challenge for business. However, according to a study, the profits generated by effective Big Data analysis for business will amount to 60%.
Big Data will therefore drastically change the way companies operate. The number of jobs created by Big Data is estimated at 6 million.
First of all, companies will save a lot of time in market research, segmentation and advertising. Indeed, a company targeting a consumer profile (e.g. young professionals between 25 and 40 years old) will be able to analyze in real time their movements at different times of the day, establish trends and adapt the position of its store and its advertising accordingly.
Production will change enormously thanks to Big Data. Companies will use a lot of means to offer the most personalized products and services possible. Many companies are already using Big Data analytics to develop products that anticipate our desires.
The Internet of Things will also revolutionize our daily life in many ways. The number of connected devices, estimated today at 23 billion, is expected to reach 50 billion by 2025. Our homes will be filled with interactive and connected devices that will simplify our life, but also change many aspects of our daily life such as the way we monitor our health, or the way we do our shopping.
5 BigData applications for the Algerian government
One of the greatest strengths of Big Data is its flexibility and universal application to many different industries. Along with many other areas, BigData in government can have an enormous impact local, national and international. With so many complex issues on the table today, the government has its work cut out trying to make sense of all the information it receives and make vital decisions that affect millions of people. Not only is it difficult to sift through all the information, but it is sometimes difficult to verify the reality of the information itself. Faulty information can have awful consequences.
By implementing a big data platform, the government can access large amounts of relevant information important to their daily functions. The positive effect it can have is nearly endless. It is so important because it does not only allow the government to identify areas that need attention, but it also gives them that information in real time. In a society that moves so quickly from one thing to the next, real-time analysis is vital. It allows governments to make faster decisions, and it allows them to monitor those decisions and quickly adopt changes if necessary. Here are some of the areas that BigData can positively affect at the government level.
Every day, millions of Algerians are on the road driving. There are so many different nuances to driver safety, from roads to police officers, weather conditions and vehicle safety that it is impossible to control everything that might cause an accident. However, with BigData, the government will be able to better oversee transportation to ensure better roads, safer roadways, better routes and new routes.
Health care is a very complicated issue these days, and not just in Algeria, but also across the world. With so many health systems that rely on government subsidies and support, there is a potential for ressources to be wasted or to be unfairly allocated. With BigData, the government can have a much clearer picture of where the money is going and why. This means they can also assume better control over resources. They can also analyze more effectively the needs of citizens and, from there, make the necessary changes to provide the citizens with the best possible services.
Education is another extremely hot topic across the country. What can be done to improve education? There is a lot of different things to be done, and up-to-date, relevant information is vital for this. BigData helps the government better understand educational needs at the local and also national levels to ensure that the youth of the nation are getting the best possible education in order to serve the country in the future.
How can you keep track of so much land and livestock that exists in our country? All the different crops that are grown, the local production of staple foods and so many other complex issues come together in the agriculture world to form a very difficult job for the government. It’s hard to monitor because of the vast numbers. BigData is changing the way government manages and supports farmers and their resources. Its ability to gather huge amounts of information and analyze them quickly makes all the difference.
There is so much poverty in the world. It’s extremely difficult to combat, and we have been trying to do so for thousands of years. BigData gives a government tools to discover more effective and innovative ideas on how to decrease poverty across its territory. It is easier to pinpoint areas with the greatest need and how those needs can be met.
Big Data technology is vitally important for governments across the world. It can’t solve every problem, but it is a step in the right direction. It is giving leaders the tools necessary to enact important changes that will be of benefits for citizens now and in the future.
Anwar Gherras – militant Jil Jadid