The big deal about Big Data

The data revolution is, without doubt, transforming the world. More than just a valuable commodity, data has the brilliance to provide deep insight into the human condition and how we are interacting with this world... and those beyond.A fascinating BBC documentary, The Age of Big Data, (currently screening on SBS On-Demand), explores how scientists are using technology & innovation to search data, and the algorithms used to decipher the masses of information.


By applying patterns that are also found in nature to the chaos of humanity, we are able to predict future trends... and even criminal behaviour. Police in LA have found that, just as there are aftershocks following an earthquake, similar patterns occur in crime. Truly the stuff of Minority Report, predictive policing is a modern day reality.Useful ideas can be mined from data if you know what to look for. Just as data sets were examined during the Bubonic Plague in the 1630's, the collection and examination of data is transforming medicine today. The doco also looks into investors, including a man whose $5.5 billion hedge fund is guided by the information gathered from trend lines and scores of statistics.

Global data

While many people fear the collection and scrutiny of our own personal data, others enjoy a more personalised, customised experience from the advertising that is targeted to us, using the Gigabytes of data that we upload daily.Data hunting is also instrumental in Astronomy, which was founded over 5000 years ago on the collection of facts and figures. The Age of Big Data talks of the proposed 'Square Kilometre Array' in South Africa, which will be the world's biggest data collector, exploring information from the furthest reaches of the universe. When examined, this data will provide us with knowledge about where we have come from... and where we are going.Well worth a look.

Nigel CarboonDigital Media Producer

Good things can sometimes take times...