How data analytics is changing the world for the better
Switchboard Dec 5
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Data plays a vital role in today’s economy – in fact, the global data and analytics market is now worth a staggering $274 billion.
Data analytics has countless use cases – from informing UI decisions to uncovering audience demographics and enabling marketers to create better ads – but it plays a much bigger role in the world than simply helping businesses to make smarter data-driven decisions.
From space exploration and conservation to airline travel, let’s take a closer look at some unique data analytics examples in action.
1) Saving the planet
Monitoring polar ice-caps, global warming, and conservation; these are just a few of the things data analytics is helping to transform. For a long time, GPS tagging and camera tracking were two of the most common methods used to monitor and analyze species and the environment. While they are helpful – enabling scientists and conservationists to track factors such as migration, population, poaching, and endangered species – they have their limits.
This became clear in a study by the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, in which researchers in Panama had trouble tracking the movements of animals because their GPS equipment wasn’t strong enough to penetrate tree-top canopies. Instead, they turned to data analytics, creating their own software platform, Movebank, to collect and store vast amounts of data in real time. Today, Movebank stores over 600 different million animal locations and 750 species.
2) Space exploration
Space exploration utilizes an enormous amount of data – with astronomers implementing scientific laws to analyze the sun, planets and solar system. These insights are crucial to better understand the universe and how to create the best possible equipment for deep space exploration (i.e., telescopes, space stations, and space shuttles).
But with such a vast amount of data to sift through, analyzing and processing it manually can be time-consuming. Take the example of the 2007 Galaxy Zoo Project. Astrophysicist, Kevin Schawinski, was tasked with classifying 90,000 images of galaxies in just seven years. But the sheer amount of data meant it would take 3-5 years of non-stop manual analysis to complete the project in time. To speed up the process, Kevin and his team created entirely new data science models to measure and analyze the images at scale.
Astronomers use data analytics in a similar way. NASA scientists, for example, use it to find out more about life on Mars. As part of its mission to detect new signs of life, the astronomy giant has partnered with HeroX and DrivenData to launch a competition called Mars Spectrometry: Detect Evidence for Past Life on Mars. Entrants need to create individual machine-learning models that use data analytics to help automate the mass analysis of sand samples.
3) Healthcare analytics
There are many use cases of data analytics in healthcare. From helping scientists make medical breakthroughs to ensuring hospitals have up-to-date patient information, there’s one area in particular that has greatly benefited the industry: wearable tech.
Thanks to data analytics, doctors and medical providers are able to monitor patient health without being intrusive. In some cases, wearable tech can even give patients the power to keep their health in check. A great example of this in action is PK Vitality – a wearable smartwatch with built-in continuous glucose monitoring data analytics software.
As well as arming patients with real-time information about their glucose level, the tech also bypasses the need to take a blood test.
4) Predictive analytics in aviation
When it comes to safer air travel, we’ve got data analytics to thank yet again. Created with built-in predictive analytics maintenance models, an aircraft can now provide engineers and flight crew with real-time data about its technical condition. As well as reducing the time it takes to detect technical faults, engineers can also access the data from any location and address issues at the click of a button.
Data analytics is also shaping the future of air travel with automated taxi, take-off, and landing solutions. Traditionally, these processes have been carried out manually. However, a 2018 Airbus project proved that Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off and Landing (ATTOL) can be done safely using image-recognition technology and automated data labeling, processing, and model-generation tools.
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