The amount of data that is created has risen and is still growing at a tremendous pace in recent times. Today, not only is data limitless, it is everywhere. Each day, an estimated 500 million tweets, 294 e-mails are sent and 4 petabytes of data are produced on Facebook. By 2020, it is estimated that 17mb of data will be created every second for every person on earth. These numbers are unquestionably massive, yet they keep rising. So, the problem is never obtaining the data, it is there, the problem is positioning data to good usage, to leverage upon it. Like a seer, with data, we can truly have clear projections into the future.
Data is basically information still in its raw form. These could be images, ideas, numbers, symbols which are representation of certain objects, conditions, concepts or ideas. Results from census, inputs from registers, video feeds, call logs, observations and research are some of the major things that constitute data. However, data in its raw form cannot be understood on its own, statistical and analytical tools are needed to make meanings off of them. Data will help in gaining insights and providing up-to-date responses to issues, inform conclusions and support decisions.
Data gathering and analyzing is also rather something everyone does – from keeping a food roster in the home to keeping records that will influence a subsequent purchase. In fact, the use of data could be traced far back to paleolithic tribes who would mark notches into sticks and bones to kept track of activities and supplies. They could, for example, predict how long food will last by comparing the sticks and notches. This is a classical instance of the potentials data gathering and analyzing can have; making accurate or near-accurate predictions.
The data is there, we need to begin to look to it. Research and results have continuously shown that usage of and innovation with data increases business opportunities, availability of knowledge and capital. The economies of nations are leveraging on economy driven by data. According to the European Commission, a data driven economy holds enormous potential and opportunities in various fields which cannot afford to be missed ranging from health, food security, climate, smart cities, intelligent transport systems and efficiency to energy.
The government, conglomerates and even the individual stand to gain from data optimization. The success of Netflix, the streaming platform, for example has been linked to their data-centric approach. Data from subscribers are collected, monitored and analyzed, they are then able to predict what customers will enjoy watching.
A data centric economy will be revolutionary, it will bring about an growth in every sector of the economy. Of recent, Agricultural investments in Nigeria is experiencing an upward turn. Nigeria became the highest exporter of rice in Africa. Optimization of data can further increase food security, farmers’ productivity and farmers’ income. Data from sensors and earth observations could be deployed. In Uganda, for example, a programme run by the Netherlands-based Technical Center for Agriculture and Rural Cooperation (CTA) was designed to address the challenges faced by farmers.
They gave farmers tailored weather information as well as funding using weather mappings based on satellite data. The satellite data were also delivered location-specific advice to people peculiar to rain or dry seasons. Data could be used to help farmers avoid certain flood prone areas during rainy seasons. These could be replicated in Nigeria.
A smart use of data also assists governments to optimize different modes of transportation. Route planning systems, traffic flows optimization have the ability to decrease traffic congestion. Of course, there is the ever-prevalent bad road menace, data collected via sensor GPS, social media, can prove extremely effective in making cities smarter and easing traffic congestion.
Patients will also benefit from timely and appropriate care through the analyses of large clinical datasets which can result in the optimization of health care and cost effectiveness of new drugs and treatments. Matt Cockbill, head of IT and digital leadership practice at Berwick Partners once noted that ‘… high-value, full-stack data science roles will continue to reform and reshape the world around them…’. Today, not only is data reforming and reshaping the world, it continues to give us a whole new outlook on the world’s challenges and gives new and insightful perspective to its answers, yet, more can still be done with data.