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Three Times Data Changed the World
While the term ‘data’ or ‘Big Data’ has traditionally been applied to the role of modern data analytics, the reality is that the human obsession with facts and figures (what we would today refer to as data) has been an integral part of society for thousands of years.
Dating as far back as 18,000 BCE – a time long before machine learning, computers, and even electricity! – the earliest known examples of humans analyzing and utilizing data came in the form of tally sticks. As highlighted by the World Economic Forum, the Ishango Bone was one such tally stick thought to be one of the earliest examples of prehistoric data storage.
It is believed that Palaeolithic tribespeople would mark notches into these bones to keep track of trading activity or supplies. They would then compare bones and the incisions made to carry out rudimentary calculations, enabling them to make various predictions about how long their food supplies would last.
Since the creation of the internet in the early 1990s and, perhaps most importantly, the advent of larger storage capacity drives, data has had a massive impact on our everyday lives. However, despite its crucial role in modern society and life in general, we often overlook the importance of data and data analytics. At Astrato we are, of course, big believers in the importance and power of data and business intelligence.
Over the course of this post, we will look at three examples of how data changed the world. Including showcasing why data and data analytics, in particular, play a significant role in our lives.
Data can save the planet
When we think of data, most of the time, the ideas conjured in our head are of business-related applications (more on that later!). Yet, data is much more than just a tool marketers use to tell their bosses that their idea has legs. Data can also save the planet.
From GPS tagging to satellite imagery, data plays a vital role in how humanity can learn more about the earth we inhabit and better protect the planet and the species that coexist with us.
Data analysis has enabled scientists to track the migration cycles of birds, assess fossils, understand the speed at which the polar ice caps are melting, and plenty more. Data has also played a significant role in the categorization of animals into groups such as “vulnerable,” “endangered,” and “extinct,” with scientists using a wide range of data to see which animals need protecting from hunters/poachers or accidental poisoning from the use of pesticides and other chemicals we use to grow and protect food.
Climate change has significantly impacted businesses and the livelihoods of billions of people, and we can only assess the damage that has been done due to the existence of historical evidence (aka data). However, merely evaluating the climate crisis’ impact in the past does little to change how businesses and individuals can mitigate further damage and become more resilient to the effects of climate change in the present and future.
In order to truly work towards a better and more sustainable future, data must be used to predict what the damage to the planet will be in a number of years, as well as demonstrate how businesses and individuals can help reduce their carbon footprint. IBM is one such company that has harnessed the power of data and artificial intelligence (AI) to help society mitigate and adapt to the ongoing climate crisis, enabling companies to take proactive steps to become more sustainable and resilient.
Data can save lives
Big data, data analytics, and in particular, data science all play a major role in the healthcare sector. Like most other businesses, hospitals use data to assess the need to recruit more staff or reallocate team members to different wards or hospitals depending on the ongoing demand. In addition, hospitals also use data to maintain an inventory of supplies, ranging from medicines, bandaging, and equipment to even bedding.
The use of data in the health sector is not particularly new. Still, recent developments of wearable smart technology such as FitBits and Apple Watches have attracted many potential customers who wish to improve or learn more about their health. While the data is not shared directly, the statistics gathered from these wearable devices give medical professionals another data point to use in their research into the health of the general public.
The most significant use of data in the medical industry comes from the use of data science to not only track & record diseases – but to predict where the next pandemic will occur and what it will look like.
Back at the end of December 2019, a Canadian artificial intelligence platform called BlueDot identified a cluster of what was referred to as “unusual pneumonia” cases emanating from a market in Wuhan, China. It would transpire that what BlueDot would discover would later be known as COVID-19, identified nine days before the World Health Organization released a statement alerting of the emergence of the respiratory illness.
Big data made BlueDot possible. Using language processing technology and machine learning to filter data from thousands of sources, including public health bodies, media reports, livestock, health reports, and more, BlueDot was able to accurately predict that a new pandemic was on the horizon.
Data drives innovation
As many of you reading this will already be well aware, data can help businesses achieve their goals, facilitate remote and international collaborations, and make smart and informed business decisions. However, what is lesser known about data and its role in the realm of business is how much of a difference live business intelligence can make to any organization.
Live data refers to a data set that is constantly being updated with new information and relevant content in real-time. In the past, teams and data analysts would have to review older reports and look for any possible trends that had arisen over time. While this approach has proven successful in refining existing products, innovation is rare as many risk-averse businesses will only produce content and products that cater to existing demand. However, with the real-time nature of live data, developers, marketers, and virtually anybody connected to the company’s data analytics platform can see vital data points and identify any growing demands or gaps in the market.
At Astrato, we support innovation and the success and ingenuity of data scientists and analysts. That’s why we provide the ability to explore big data instantly and make live data decisions in real-time.
Data has immense significance in virtually every facet of our daily lives. Whether it’s supplying you with interesting shows to watch on Netflix, suggesting new music or videos via YouTube & Spotify, or helping protect elephants from ivory poachers, data is pivotal to a balanced, informed society.
Interested in how Astrato can help your business to get ahead of the competition in 2023 and become a force to be reckoned with? Why not get in touch with one of our team today to book a demo & learn more?