We all know that data is valuable, but we might not know why. It’s true that data allows companies to orientate their product advertisements to ones they know we’ll like. But it helps with so much more than that! Big Data isn’t just used for marketing, it’s also used in the medical field, and the farming industry, it helps researchers find correlations in huge datasets, and it could even (potentially) be used to find suitable partners. There are even chatbot AIs that save the information you tell about yourself, allowing them to personalise their responses. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, it’s almost impossible for Big Data to not be helping you.
The Value of Data in Medicine
One of the best – in my opinion – uses of Big Data is in the medical field. Big Data is used throughout the world of medicine, taking in millions of data points, and using those to help make decisions. One advantage outlined by (Calzon, 2022) is the use of Big Data for staffing. We all know that ER doctors and nurses are hard workers, often working long shifts. These long shifts wherein there is lots of physical and mental strain are tiring - and if there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s your surgeon to be tired. If a surgeon is tired, then they won’t be able to think or move as quickly. They’ll make mistakes and when you’re in an operation room, a mistake can often mean death. To avoid this issue, we can collect data about both the patients coming into the ER and the doctors/nurses themselves. We can figure out what time of the day and week is busiest. We can then schedule more staff on that day and time in order to avoid overworking the staff. To further the value of the Data in this scenario, we can also keep track of the staff. Every so often, every member of staff would submit how tired they feel, if they think they need a break, etc. We would then be able to figure out the best times for either giving the staff a break or for ending their shift entirely. This would ensure the staff aren’t overworked, meaning fewer mistakes and potentially less death.
Another use of Big Data in medicine is predicting the most likely cause of symptoms. If we create a dataset of all major illnesses and conditions and disease symptoms, we can then be able to predict the cause of patients’ illnesses. Many illnesses/conditions share many symptoms so we most likely won’t be able to narrow it down to a specific cause, but we will be able to narrow it down to a handful. We can take the “10,000 diseases” (Kessler, 2016) and narrow them down to 5, 10 or 100 depending on the disease. 100 may still seem like a lot (because it is) but even if we can narrow the possibilities down ever-so-slightly, then that’s a win in my book.
The Value of Data in Agriculture
I previously mentioned that Big Data is used in farming, but I never mentioned the vast number of uses for it. The environment plays a huge role in the farming industry. Crops need specific conditions for them to grow properly. If those conditions aren’t met (which can happen during storms, temperature changes, etc) then those crops will die. This is where Big Data comes in. If we predict the weather, then we can “stay one step ahead” (Pinduoduo, 2021). We can plant a different crop before a storm – one which will survive it – or choose to harvest crops just before the storm if we believe they may die.
The Value of Data in Relationships
The uses of Big Data aren’t limited to commercial use. Big Data can be and is used in match-making websites/apps. Users of these websites or apps will sign up, and then enter information about their ideal partner (looks, interests, hobbies, etc). This data is then saved and processed. An algorithm will find partners who match enough of those interests.
The Future Value of Data
The world of technology is everchanging, it’s impossible to predict where we’ll be in the future. We can guess, but unless that technology is currently under development, it’s hard to say what technology we’ll be using. One current device under development is augmented reality glasses. I believe that, eventually, augmented reality glasses will be somewhat mainstream – not necessarily any time soon, but sometime in the future. If this time comes, Big Data will definitely be heavily used. Going back to the medical field, perhaps a company will develop an algorithm that will allow EMTs to look at an accident victim, and then the AR glasses will be able to hint at what’s wrong with the patient and how to help. This may seem like a long shot, but when it comes to technology, we never know what’s going to happen.
Calzon, B. (2022) ‘21 Examples of Big Data In Healthcare With Powerful Analytics’, BI Blog | Data Visualization & Analytics Blog | datapine, 2 June. Available at: datapine.com/blog/big-data-examples-in-heal.. (Accessed: 16 September 2022).
Kessler, G. (2016) ‘Are there really 10,000 diseases and just 500 “cures”?’, Washington Post [Preprint]. Available at: washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/201.. (Accessed: 16 September 2022).
Pinduoduo (2021) Big Data in Agriculture - A Complete Guide. Available at: stories.pinduoduo-global.com/agritech-hub/b.. (Accessed: 16 September 2022).
(This is one of the blog posts that I wrote during my Big Data module in College. If you would like to see more, please check out my Big Data series).