The human face of Big Data

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A new free mobile application has been launched today as part of The Human Face of Big Data event, which is the first real visualisation of big data in action and aimed at inspiring a global conversation about humanity’s new ability to collect, analyse, triangulate and visualise vast amounts of data in real time. 

 Hosted by Rick Smolan, co-creator of the groundbreaking "Day in the Life" series and other globally crowdsourced projects, the app enables people to share and compare their lives for seven days (September 26-October 2) using the sensors in their phones and by responding to thought-provoking questions with others around the globe about their dreams, interests and views.

 Join us as we look at some real-life examples of how big data is currently used in the real world.

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Big data in the real world

A new free mobile application has been launched today as part of The Human Face of Big Data event, which is the first real visualisation of big data in action and aimed at inspiring a global conversation about humanity’s new ability to collect, analyse, triangulate and visualise vast amounts of data in real time. Hosted by Rick Smolan, co-creator of the groundbreaking "Day in the Life" series and other globally crowdsourced projects. Join us as we look at some real-life examples of how big data is currently used in the real world.

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Analysing EKG heat attack patient data

Researchers John Guttag and Collin Stultz (shown here) along with Zeeshan Syed have created a computer model to analyse formerly discarded EKG data of heart attack patients. Using data mining and machine learning techniques to sift through the massive quantities of data, they found that three abnormalities in an EKG are correlated with a two to three times higher risk of dying from a second heart attack within a year. They believe their computer model will significantly improve today's risk-screening techniques, which miss identifying about 70 percent of patients likely to have a repeat heart attack. (Photograph © Jason Grow 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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"Data is the new oil."

Coined in 2006 by Clive Huby, a British data commercialisation entrepreneur, this now famous phrase was embraced by the World Economic Forum in a 2011 report, which considered data to be an economic asset like oil. In this infographic, famed graphic designer Nigel Holmes explores our burgeoning digital universe. Click here to view a high-resolution version. (Infographic © Nigel Holmes 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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How much power do your devices use?

Consumers have long paid their utility bills with little inkling of how much each device in their home costs to run. Shwetak Patel recognised that every device has a unique digital signature that can be detected with simple wireless sensors. Patel's smart algorithms, combined with a sensor plugged anywhere in a home, inexpensively provide visual feedback allowing consumers to see which devices are the biggest wasters and how to conserve. The family who lives in the Hayward, California, home pictured here, was surprised to learn that digital video recorders eat up 11 percent of their household power. (Photograph © Peter Menzel 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS)

Australia touches more ocean than almost any place on the planet. To monitor this enormous territory, scientists have formed the Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS) to collect and share terabytes of data from sensor floats, underwater autonomous vehicles, scientific monitoring stations, remote satellite sensing, and animal tags. This data is continuously captured and integrated into IMOS's massive database of information about animal migration, ocean salinity, temperature, currents, and carbon storage.(Photograph © Rob Harcourt / Macquarie University 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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A digitally chronicled life

During the first day of a baby's life, the amount of data generated by humanity is equivalent to 70 times the information contained in the Library of Congress. According to BabyCenter.com, today one in three children born in the United States already have an online presence (usually in the form of a sonogram) before they are born. That number grows to 92 percent by the time they are two. What will it mean to live in a world where our every moment, from birth to death, is digitally chronicled and preserved in vast cloud-based databases, forever? (Photograph © Catherine Balet "Strangers in the light" (Steidl) 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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Quantifying myself

Best-selling author A.J. Jacobs, pictured here, declares his love for self-tracking in "Quantifying Myself," a delightfully candid and humorous essay he wrote for The Human Face of Big Data. "What Billy Beane did to baseball, what day traders do to the NASDAQ, I want to do to my body," he writes. "And not just out of idle curiosity. Studies show that keeping track of your body's numbers makes you behave in healthier and more productive ways." (Photograph © Michael Cogliantry 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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Twelve years ago, computer legend Gordon Bell decided to try an experiment to go paperless so he could work virtually - a novel idea at the time. First, he set out to digitise his books and papers. That gave way to digital documentation of his photographs and memorabilia. Today, it involves conversations, keystrokes - even real-time records of his heartbeat and cholesterol. A SenseCam that Bell wears around his neck snaps photos every few minutes. To date, he has logged 200 gigabytes of data. (Photograph © Mark Richards 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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When it rains, taxi drivers don't pick up customers

Researcher Oliver Senn was assigned to compare weather satellite data with 830 million GPS records of 80 million taxi trips in Singapore. He expected the data to confirm what everyone in Singapore knows - that it's impossible to get a taxi in a rainstorm. Instead, a different pattern emerged: GPS records showed that when it rained, many drivers pulled over and didn't pick up passengers. Senn later learned that the island's largest taxi company would withhold $1,000 from a driver's salary after an accident until it was determined who was at fault - a lengthy process. So taxi drivers simply waited out the storm. The company is now strategising about how to fix this flawed policy. (Photograph © R. Ian Lloyd 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data)

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