Big data has become a common buzzword when discussing the rising ubiquity of technology in our day-to-day lives. Some sources now describe data as a commodity worth more than oil, so it is not hard to see how important it is as a resource in a modern economy.
The value of data extends far beyond the financial. Data can be used for purposes as vast and varied as understanding large-scale behaviors of populations and predicting the spread of pandemics. In fact, during the recent Ebola outbreak, data algorithms developed at Google were used to anticipate how the virus would spread and allowed medical teams to stay one step ahead.
The way we collect, store and use data is having an effect, which reverberates through the entire technology industry. Here we consider some of the main ways that data is changing our attitude to technology and the way we apply it to a variety of fields.
The field of cybersecurity is inextricably linked with that of big data for a couple of reasons. Firstly, now that we are collecting such huge amounts of data routinely, we need to be able to securely store it. There have been several high-profile breaches of large corporations, which have resulted in people’s personal data being stolen and, in some cases, sold on the black market. As a result, there is a much greater awareness of the risks surrounding data storage and a greater demand from consumers to tech companies to ensure that their data is stored securely to prevent unauthorized access.
Cybersecurity engineers are also interested in the potential offered by big data in understanding the psychology of hostile actors, as well as looking for patterns in source code that can allow for the development of more sophisticated antivirus software that can assess whether a piece of code is malicious or not, without relying on checking it against a database.
Cloud Services allow two or more computer systems to access one another remotely and so files can be moved or copied, from a user’s home computer to a remote server where they can exist as a secure backup. Alternatively, data might be placed on a server in the cloud to allow other trusted users to access it. Cloud Services can also lend computing power to remote computers, so they can perform complex calculations as required, sending the result back to the original computer when it’s finished.
Those interested in the science of managing the storage of information should consider an online MLIS degree. A master of information degree will teach you how to approach the management of data in a variety of contexts.
Data analytics is the science of interpreting and understanding large data sets. These are usually too big to go through manually and so complex algorithms are used to identify the patterns and connections that a human operator would usually look for.
Big data looks set to play an increasingly important role in the future of the tech industry and our society more generally, it is therefore vital that we increase public understanding of its usage and ramifications.