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Big brother already knows more than we think

posted 12 Nov 2013, 00:56 by Sandra Kirby   [ updated 12 Nov 2013, 11:08 ]
I was invited to a breakfast this morning that has exercised my mind all day.  Topic was big data and the potential for NZ business.  Person who was speaking is now CEO of the Flybuys programme but has been working in UK, Europe and the US on data science.
It was fascinating to think of the big data (real time, non identifiable personal data generated by things like mobile phones, electronic transactions etc, etc) to the tune of 2.5 billion exabytes of data every 2 days (and set to grow exponentially)
This is already being put to use in projects such as replanning bus routes in the Ivory Coast using a combination of mobilephone  tracking data, Facebook and Twitter comments.  To great effect

Thoughts about how NZ might use this were also interesting - includes some work being done at Massey on soil measurement at field level that is predicting how much water and fertiliser might be required.  On the early data there could be something like a 15% decrease in the amount of fertiliser that gets applied.
Apparently there are so few data scientists in training in NZ that a Telecom subsidiary is now sponsoring the PhD students at the only data science programme - all 6 of them!  Predicting we need 2000 data scientists in the next 2 years but will have 12. 
Because there is a shortage of data scientists and these people have a unique skill set there is a place you can go on line and set up your own questions/ challenges using big data

Tapping mobile phones is the least useful use if big data it seems