Monday, May 6, 2013

Big Data Speakers Discussing Big Solutions

Today, the average person processes more data in a single day than a person in the 1500's did in an entire lifetime. Sound overwhelming? Well, it can be. That's why many of today's top thinkers and innovators are engaged in a sprint to figure out how to leverage this incredible volume of data to improve the quality of life around the world.

Big Data Speaker Rick Smolan
We were lucky enough to have speaker Rick Smolan - known for his stunning photographic work in Time, Life, and National Geographic – stop by the APB office. He came to discuss his latest passion: Big Data. His new book, The Human Face of Big Data, creates a digestible and visually engaging compilation of snapshots and factoids about how Big Data is already being used to bridge gaps between and within industries, as well as how this can impact your daily life. Once you hear keynote speaker Rick Smolan, you'll no longer be asking yourself "but what does Big Data mean for me?"

Some of the most compelling Big Data speakers focus further up the pipeline to business application. Many business speakers who specialize in specific industries (be it healthcare, finance, social media, etc.) have embraced the topic of Big Data.

Big Data Speaker David Pogue
It's all about connecting and interpreting different sources of data to improve systems, customer targeting, and overall quality of life. One example of Big Data in action was shared with me by one of our top corporate speakers, David Pogue (Pogue is the host of NOVA ScienceNow and is a funny, engaging, and energetic keynote speaker). With the advent of "smart clothing," individuals are now able to track a slew of information in real time: from activity levels to sleep cycles to traveling patterns and more. This information can then be collected and analyzed to produce services tailored to a single person. Some hospitals are already doing this and are able to provide care to patients that are as unique to them as their fingerprint. As a prominent technologist and healthcare speaker, Pogue delves more deeply into how big data can be used to improve care in his new topic "The Quantified Self: When Patients Become Doctors." –Learn more about speaker David Pogue

Big Data Speaker Beth Simone Noveck
But, doesn't all of this information seem a little bit Big Brother? Not to keynote speaker Beth Simone Noveck. Noveck is the former US Deputy Chief Technology Officer, the leading voice for transparency in government, and a sought-after corporate speaker. She sees Big Data as a route to making Washington smarter. We can now use predictive analysis based on information from across industries to spot problems before they become too big to handle.

For example, millions of people use social media on a daily basis. What if someone could aggregate all of that information and create a way to track all of the instances where people are discussing violence in their community? You could then create maps showing the density of violence occurring throughout a city, town, or even country. Local governments would then be able to allocate addition resources to troubled areas, be it in the form of additional police officers, funding for schools, or public works projects. –Learn more about speaker Beth Noveck

The long and the short of it? Sometimes we are left with more questions than we started with, but with the continuing push to interpret and connect disparate sources of information, and with 2.5 quintillion (that's a 2 and a 5 followed by 18 zeros) bytes of data being produced daily, the answers are sure to be in there somewhere, right?