14th May 2017

The latest headlines in Big Data across diverse industries

As a company immersed in data and technology, we are always excited to see what fascinating developments are coming to fruition in other sectors thanks to the ever-enhancing collection and analysis of big data. Here are the news stories that caught our eye this time around.

Seed breeding

In the US states of Iowa and Nebraska, the university’s Plant Sciences Institute1 is harnessing the power of Big Data to make seed breeding and production more successful and efficient at a time when the world’s population keeps on growing. Observers who look closely at the cornfields may spot poles fitted with tiny point-and-shoot digital cameras enclosed in waterproof cases, the sun’s rays used to keep the cameras’ batteries charged. By mapping plant genetics in this way, analysing the results of millions of photographs using the latest Big Data software and then using the findings to identify improved experiments and techniques, different seeds and environments can be compared with a few clicks, helping maximise yields.

Predictive maintenance technology

Onlookers at this year’s Hannover Messe industrial trade show2 were likely initially perplexed to catch sight of an antiquated, foot-operated wooden lathe dating from 1887 on display by Bosch, typically a firm known for being at the forefront of technology across several sectors3. Equipped with sensors, software and IoT-connected industrial controls, the historic lathe has been fastidiously converted into an Industry 4.0 revelation, the primary aim being to demonstrate how two-way data connectivity can be incorporated into machines of any age relatively easily. Machines connected to IoT gateways can be monitored and optimised by engineers in real time, predictive maintenance helping all manner of businesses to maximise uptime and ultimately increase profits.

Better understanding lethal diseases

Ebola has been in the headlines in recent months so it’s reassuring to know that big data analytics and engagement technology is aiding researchers from IBM4 with identifying infected animal groups that have not previously appeared on the epidemiological data radar. Using computer simulations and open-source computational models, researchers and scientists are able to advise humanitarian agencies, governments and other organisations on reducing the spread of diseases into full-blown pandemics by pinpointing the source of infections much earlier. Citizens in African countries such as Nigeria and Sierra Leone can also report possible disease outbreaks or other concerns and issues to authorities using text message, achieving the crucial open dialogue5 that has long been missing.

Autonomous driving garage

Ever since cars started becoming more like computers on wheels, it’s no surprise that tech companies have regularly announced their joining the driverless vehicle arena, and the latest venture sounds particularly convincing, with titans BMW, Delphi, Here and Intel joining forces. Based out of the latter’s new ‘Autonomous Driving Garage’6 facility within their San Jose Innovation Center, autonomous research vehicles built with help from BMW will place enormous emphasis on big data. After all, the project’s chief architect, Jack Weast, explained to CNET that a single driverless car covering 1.5 hours of driving time in a given day will generate 4 terabytes of data from its radar, lidar sensors and cameras. Intel is working on the assumption that autonomous vehicles will be connected to the cloud and hence require fast 5G wireless internet, which will inevitably necessitate more powerful servers and other hardware. Using its own SDK, Intel is developing software that it will sell to automotive OEMs and other players to enable them to simulate millions of driving miles and use machine learning to continuously improve their vehicles’ AI.

Turning the corner in the fight against dementia

By 2050, the number of people around the world who will suffer from dementia is expected to more than double from 44 million to 115 million, with almost 60% of those affected residing in low and middle income nations. Annually, dementia costs around 1% of global GDP, roughly equating to $600 billion, and it’s also a truly heart-rending disease for families, friends and others involved. Thankfully, though, significant strides in big data are speeding up the fight against dementia following over a decade of drug ineffectiveness. For the first time in history, enhanced big data analytics technology, such as Active Data Replication7 from the University of Sheffield, along with an increased general understanding of the power of information, are making it possible to store and process enormous and diverse dementia data sets. With nearly 1,000 applications analysing sizeable volumes of continuously changing data moved between 8 different cloud providers, healthcare practitioners are now better able to assess and proactively assist their patients. Big data is even being collected from dementia patients who have signed up to an online citizens’ portal with questions, games and other resources that engage, benefit and analyse them in equal measure.

Cleaning up shipping lanes

Emissions aren’t just a hot topic in the automotive world, with the marine sector and its array of vessels also working hard to become increasingly environmentally aware, at a time when the EU’s MRV Regulations8 will soon force shipping operators to handle their fuel more efficiently. Big data sees engine, fuel, cargo, weather, location and various other information collected at high speed in real time, the analysis of which is helping to streamline marine asset utilisation, vessel optimisation and the general performance of ships. Countless on-board sensors enable vessels to be monitored remotely, voyages to be better planned, ports to operate more intelligently, predictive maintenance to maximise vessel availability, and for improved energy management to contribute towards meeting ever tougher environmental legislation. With piracy remaining a growing issue facing the marine sector, a huge emphasis is being placed on refining wireless systems, sensors, data transfer and other platforms so that they are as secure as possible.

It’s clear that advances in IoT technology, cloud computing and, most notably, big data gathering and interpretation are having a profoundly positive impact on organisations and societies around the globe, irreversibly shaping life in an unarguably beneficial way. We’re already looking forward to our next big data roundup.





1 http://netnebraska.org/article/news/1075792/big-data-transforming-how-breeders-create-better-seeds

2 https://www.ft.com/content/eef01b16-2b21-11e7-9ec8-168383da43b7

3 http://www.bosch-presse.de/pressportal/de/en/69632.html

4 http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/ibm-using-big-data-take-aim-ebola

5 http://www.healthcareitnews.com/node/521711

6 https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/intel-opens-autonomous-driving-garage-emphasizing-5g-and-big-data/

7 http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/david-richards/using-big-data-to-fight-d_b_15961386.html

8 http://www.maritimejournal.com/news101/onboard-systems/monitoring-and-control/big-data-in-the-marine-sector