What do you think Big Data is? For many, it is a dubious concept that evokes an image of hundreds of servers interacting with each other, for others it is a giant virtual brain inside a large computer that is capable of knowing what you are doing every second to send you a personalized offer in the precise moment.
Big Data is not exactly any of the above, this term has a deeper and broader concept. We define Big Data in a summarized way as "an interdisciplinary field of data science, which due to the high volume of data requires specific storage and processing systems to be able to work efficiently."
Thus, for it to be Big Data, the criterion of the 5 V’s must be met: Volume of data, Velocity of data, Variety of data, Value of data, and Veracity of sources.
This is one of the most common practices in the sector, and it is usually the most promoted in this world of Big Data.
To do this, data extracted from customers is used to better understand their behaviors and preferences. This information can come from web analytics, social media statistics, or complex text analysis in order to outline a more accurate image of the customer, although this data is also obtained to be able to predict certain purchasing attitudes.
An example is the American company Target, which is currently able to predict quite accurately which customers are expecting a baby, or how telecommunications companies are able to anticipate when their customers tend to unsubscribe by combining Big Data and Machine Learning.
Big Data is also used for the production processes of companies, such as optimizing their stock, based on prediction models made up of social network traffic, web analytics, and the weather.
Companies from the transport sector are using geopositioning sensors to track their products and vehicles. In this way, an optimized route can be sent to the driver to improve their shipping periods or estimate the arrival time to the final customer. This system can also be used to better take advantage of vendors' trade routes.
Many elite athletes today are adopting Big Data techniques to hone their performance.
One of the tools is IBM SlamTracker, which using video analysis measures the performance of each tennis player, thus improving the game. Then there are athletic teams that use technologies that collect information about nutrition, sleep, and monitor your emotional state from conversations on social networks.
On the other hand, the NFL (National Football League) has developed its own application platform to help the 32 teams that make up this league, to make decisions taking into account as many variables as possible such as weather, field condition, or the performance of the players while they are in college. Each of these variables is measured in order to improve the game and reduce injuries.
In the world of eSports, a platform called Riftanalyst is also being used for the game called "League of Legend", which tracks all the movements of each player, game statistics, and even information on each of the characters that each player controls independently.
With the current computing power, Big Data has become a good means to decode complete DNA strands in just a matter of minutes, which will allow us to find new cures and help us to more accurately predict the patterns that certain diseases follow.
That, added to the possible extraction of potential data that can be obtained from SmartWatches or smart bracelets, could provide us with detailed information from millions of people, and not from small samples as we do today.
Apple's health app, ResearchKit, turns your phone into a medical research device. Now researchers can create studies through the thousands of data that this application offers, obtaining data such as the number of steps, answers to questions about how you feel after a certain phase of chemotherapy, or being able to see the progress of the disease Parkinson's.
Big Data is also applicable to a city. One case is the city of Porto in Portugal, in which the Veniam company introduced a new way of creating mobile Wi-fi zones using more than 600 city buses and taxis by introducing Wi-Fi transmitters, becoming one of the pioneer cities in connecting to free internet. In return, the public administrations of Porto receive data that can help improve the management of the city, such as knowing when the garbage containers will be filled and thus save travel costs.
In Los Angeles, data from magnetic road sensors and traffic cameras are used to monitor traffic lights and regulate traffic congestion around the city.
In the city of Long Beach, California, smart water meters are being used to detect illegal irrigation in real-time, helping homeowners reduce their water use by up to 80%. This is vital since said State tends to have drought problems, which makes it easier to find those owners who are not complying with the regulations.