We live in the late transitional period of the information age. The information age is characterized by the importance of computerized systems and networked information. It followed on from the industrial age and is largely considered to have begun with the rise of personal computing in the late 20th Century.
What makes data so important in the informational age? The answer is proliferation and accumulation. To put it as simply as possible: we are creating, storing, and analyzing more data than ever before. The advent of social media has accelerated this exponentially. Data rules our lives through its use by businesses, governments, and all sorts of organizations. It determines what we see when we surf the internet, where we might be employed, and how pandemics and mass disasters are handled.
The advent of social media and the increased use of computers in our everyday lives has led to what some analysts call the ‘data deluge’. There is simply too much data being created – it cannot be analyzed in traditional ways. To solve this problem, data scientists and analysts have developed machine learning solutions to automate the collection and analysis of data.
How exactly does data affect our lives? Let’s take a close look at some of the areas in which data plays a massive role. You’ll probably agree that these areas have a pretty wide-reaching influence on the lives of ordinary people.
It Drives Political Developments
In order to run a country, a government needs to understand the population under its protection. Big data is driving governmental knowledge of the social and political landscape.
Undoubtedly, governmental organizations’ use of big data has proven to be controversial. Depending on which side of the fence you sit, you either think that it is a reasonable tool in the arsenal of the state or an infringement on the right to personal privacy.
Regardless, the use of big data by the government is here to stay so long as we keep producing telling data on a mass scale through our use of social media.
It is the Raw Material Mined By Advertisers
Data and advertising walk hand in hand in the 21st Century. Advertisers collect our data in many forms. One of the ways this is most obvious to the average person is how advertising is tailored to each individual online. This is the result of automated data analysis of our search histories and internet usage. Your personal data is used by advertising firms to maximize the return on advertisement through very targeted personalization.
It Fuels Business Strategy
Likewise, the development of business strategy is driven by the collection and analysis of data. In order to effectively write a long term strategy, a business must have access to knowledge about the market they are in, and they must be able to model the most likely future directions of the market so they can adapt accordingly.
Data collection and analysis is the key to doing this effectively in the internet age. Data scientists are often employed to develop modeling formulae that allow data analysts to accurately predict the way a market is heading. Business strategy is no longer just about great ideas: it is concerned with the fusion of great ideas and scientific accuracy.
It Influences Disaster Response
Looking at governmental responses to the terrible COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the world, it is possible to see that uses of data have influenced the way in which the disaster has been handled. In fact, the way in which countries have used data has often determined the effectiveness of their response.
Many kinds of data have been used to understand and combat the rampant virus. Test and trace contact tracing services use data to monitor likely spreads of the virus, while mobile phone data is being used to assess the effectiveness of medical interventions. Irresponsible uses of data to sure up political goals have come under huge amounts of fire from scientists and the public. Early in the pandemic, some politicians manipulated data to make the outbreak look less severe than it really was – potentially leading to more casualties. With great data comes great responsibility!
It Has Been Utilized in the Education Industry
Education is an industry in which data is necessarily collected in large quantities. Attendance, success, grades, and teaching outcomes are all converted into data as a side effect of being logged. This means that educational institutions use collected data in many forms to formulate a long-term strategy, employment goals and to identify areas in which they could improve.
Speaking of education, the importance of data in myriad fields has spawned many qualifications related to the science and analysis of it. Online masters in data science, Doctorates in data analysis, and statistics qualifications are all great ways into the data wrangling side of industry and governance.
It is Crucial to Developing Environmentally Friendly Electricity Networks
Smart meters are extremely useful for homeowners. They allow a homeowner to monitor their energy usage and create a plan for keeping costs down by identifying patterns. However, their benefit to the homeowner is nowhere near as big as the benefit these devices offer for the organizations running electricity networks. You see, smart meters are actually data capture devices.
Smart meters ‘talk’ to energy companies and government organizations. This means that the companies can use data pertaining to energy use when building models and forecasts. Data captured by smart meters include the patterns of energy usage. Suppose an organization wants to deliver an environmentally friendly service. In that case, it will be able to improve its chances of doing so by looking at patterns in the data and adjusting its provision of energy accordingly. In some countries – like the United Kingdom – smart meters will soon be required in every home. This is to ensure consumer transparency and enable energy providers to tailor their services with the help of big data analysis.