10 intriguing real-world uses for big data

The amount of data in the world is increasing exponentially, doubling every 18 months. It's starting to touch nearly every aspect of our lives, sometimes in unexpected ways.

big data
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There's a lot of hype surrounding big data. But it's not hype that the amount of data in the world is increasing exponentially, doubling every 18 months. And use of that data is starting to touch nearly every aspect of our lives, whether we realize it or not. Here are 10 real-world big data deployments you may not have realized were driven by big data.

Netflix

Netflix

Netflix has become the largest provider of commercial streaming video in the U.S., with 29 million streaming video customers. It has also become a sponge for data—what users watch, when they're watching, where they're watching and what device they're using. It has data on when you rewind or fast-forward, when you pause and when you stop watching a show or movie entirely.

Now Netflix is beginning to produce its own original programming and it's leveraging all that data to do it. It used its data to lead it to license BBC miniseries "House of Cards" for a remake. And it correlated fans of actor Kevin Spacey and director David Fincher to fans of the original, leading it to hire them for the program.

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com helps people connect with their family history and build out their family tree. It may seem simple on the surface, but to do so it maintains more than 11 billion records and 4 petabytes of content—historical records, birth records, death records, war and immigration records, even yearbooks—often in handwritten format. It uses advanced content processing technology to index the content and make it searchable.

Ancestry.com is also generating new data streams with the addition of DNA processing to help clients make connections. With some saliva in a tube, it can sequence a client's DNA and match the client with other people in its database, like distantly removed cousins.

Mount Sinai Medical Center

Mount Sinai Medical Center

Mount Sinai Medical Center is one of the oldest and largest teaching hospitals in the U.S. and a foremost center of medical education and biomedical research. It is using technology from big data startup Ayasdi to analyze the entire E. coli genome sequence, including more than 1 million DNA variants, in an effort to understand why some strains develop resistance to antibiotics. The bacteria, which affects millions of people around the world, is known for developing resistance to drugs.

Ayasdi's technology applies a new area of mathematical research, topological data analysis (TDA), to understand the shape of data.

The California ISO

The California ISO

The California Independent System Operator (ISO) manages electricity flow for 80 percent of California's power grid, delivering 289 million megawatt-hours annually to about 35 million consumers, more than 25,000 circuit-miles of power lines.

It uses Space-Time Insight's software for situational intelligence, allowing it to correlate and analyze massive volumes of data from multiples sources—including weather feeds, sensors, metering equipment and more—with visual displays that help users see and understand how to optimize the use of renewable energy sources, balance power supply and demand across the grid, and quickly respond to potential crises.

Hydro One Networks

Hydro One Networks

Hydro One delivers electricity to homes and businesses across the province of Ontario. It owns and operates Ontario's 29,000km high-voltage transmission network and a 123,000km low-voltage distribution system that serves about 1.3 million customers.

Hydro One is using geospatial and visual analytics software from Space-Time Insight to improve the health and reliability of its transmission and distribution assets. The system helps asset managers make informed decisions about asset performance over time, asset replacement strategies and asset maintenance requirements. The solution integrates data and functionality from many different systems including SAP ECC, SAP BW, GIS systems, and real-time data to provide a complete view of Hydro One's assets.

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University

Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) is a public university in Oregon with two associated hospitals, a level 1 trauma center and a children's hospital. It uses MobileView software from Stanley Black and Decker division Stanley Healthcare, integrated with data visualization from Tableau Software, to track the real-time location and status of 4,000 infusion pumps for infusing fluids, medication or nutrients into a patient's circulatory system with a degree of precision that would be unreliable if performed manually.

The technology also allows OHSU to analyze historical and current par levels to predict and better plan future par levels, improving inventory allocation and utilization.

The City of Las Vegas

The City of Las Vegas

Due to archaic records and inaccurate information, most utilities have no idea where all of their underground assets are located, resulting in those all-too-common service interruptions for residents when a power line is accidently cut or a water line bursts. To avoid these problems, the City of Las Vegas took advantage of smart data to develop a living model of its utilities network.

VTN Consulting helped the city aggregate data from various sources into a single real-time 3D model created with Autodesk technology. The model includes both above and below ground utilities, and is being used to visualize the location and performance of critical assets located under the city.

Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade County

Florida's Miami-Dade County is working with IBM's Smart Cities Initiative to bring together the key operations of 35 municipalities and the City of Miami in an effort to help government leaders make more informed decisions about managing water resources, reducing traffic jams and improving public safety.

IBM is using deep analytics in a cloud computing environment to provide the county with an intelligent dashboard to help agencies and departments collaborate and visualize operations. For instance, the Miami-Dade County Parks department expects to save $1 million this year by reducing water waste through the identification and repair of leaky, corroded water pipes.

Tennis Australia
IBM.com

Tennis Australia

Most of the year, Tennis Australia, which operates the Australian Open, resembles a small business. But during the two weeks of the Australian Open, it becomes a massive, data-hungry enterprise that requires uninterrupted access to accurate content, data and stats for instant analysis and decision-making.

Tennis Australia leverages IBM's real-time data analytics software to examine the tournament schedule of play, player popularity, historical data logs and volume of social media conversations to predict the data demands from fans viewing the tournament Website. Based on the demand, the technology is able to assign the appropriate level of computing power required.

DPR Construction

DPR Construction

DPR Construction is the general contractor for the $1.5 billion UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, the first medical center that will be built from the ground up in decades. DPR is using 3D technology from Autodesk to give its designers the ability to integrate data on air flow, building orientation, floor spacing, environmental resiliency, building performance, etc. into a single virtual model where the information interacts in real-time, allowing architects, designers and construction teams to understand, visualize and interpret hundreds of millions of data markers together in a fully operational environment.

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