Big Data : Applications – UPSC GS3

  • Almost 90% of the world’s data today was generated during the past two years, with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data added each day
  • Approximately 90% of it is unstructured
Big Data:
Big data is a popular term used to describe the exponential growth and availability of data both structured & unstructured;
Such massive volume of data if subjected to thorough analysis can provide valuable insights into customers/beneficiary behaviour and eventually help firms/ corporations/ governments to improve upon their decision making (better consumer targeting); translating into higher efficiency & productivity.
The use of such voluminous data can help us spot and understand new business trends, opinions, prevent diseases, combat crimes, etc. and governments and business organizations are increasingly becoming interested in more effective uses of big data. Consequently, the data management industry and analytics is growing immensely.
In the context of science, big data refers to the explosion of data now available as a result of modern, large scientific experiments and how it far exceeds what has been traditionally available. For example, the amount of data produced from analysing the network of genes — or genomes — from bacteria, plants, viruses, vegetables and animals in the last five years exceeds all such data in the last five decades.
  1. Companies can use Big Data to record their customers’ preferences like timings, likes and dislikes, habits, etc. apart from their age, location, etc. This will allow the companies to tailor their products accordingly and offer customized services. This will bring more satisfaction to the customer and more brand value to the company. E.g.- banks can send sms to a customer about the nearest atm when the customer is abroad (if they know about customer‘s plans of travelling abroad)
  2. Weather data from various sources & places can be collected and duly analyzed to bring out better prediction of weather events such as monsoons, cloud burst; help us adopt precautionary measures to minimize causalities.
  3. Massive data with UIDAI can be used to ensure DBT to prospective beneficiaries; thus improving governance.
  4. Analysis of fund transfer, emails, web accounts can enhance our preparedness to tackle emergent situations such as rioting & terrorism.
  5. Energy consumption data can help us evolve smart grids, be energy smart and direct power supply to most needed places during acute shortage.
  6. Data in the space sciences are collected and possible consequences and nature of cosmic phenomenon are observed using Big data.
  7. In rapid changing environments like stock markets Big data is of greater help for drawing patterns, graphs, analysis and accuracy.
  8. Data on agriculture collected through satellite can be used for insurance purposes, studying agriculture patterns etc. which can be used as inputs to make agricultural decisions
  9. Data of the world can map consumption patterns according to which industry can adjust production
  10. Big data on genes has helped us map DNA and further study of patterns can unlock huge potential for pharma sector
  1. Government: Big data can be analysed for targeted delivery of schemes, maintain record of beneficiaries, analyse the response of the electorate to policies, predict future trends and demands of population.
  2. Businesses: Help to understand customers profile and needs, keep centralized data of sales, maintain individual history of each customer and deliver customized services.
  3. Science and Technology: Research data can be captured at more depth and analysed in a better way. For example data at Large Hadron Collider for atomic research. In future we are moving to the Internet of Things which will be based on machine-to-machine communication and each machine will have several Gigabytes of data about itself and others for simulating processes.
  4. In social surveys also, now we can capture a larger sample of population for evaluating trends and undercurrents. For example a recent big data analysis has shown that Indian cuisines are mostly anchored around spices and have dissimilar ingredients paired.
Big data requires high costs and expertise for running algorithms, so government can incentivize the Indian IT sector towards capacity building. However it must be remembered Big Data in itself is not of use unless it is structured and analysed. There is a need to build institutional capacity to make use of such data and the same time enhancing skill of people to provide actionable inputs from such data.
Case study application:
 It can be used to predict global outbreaks of infectious diseases such as dengue fever and malaria using customised models and an open-source framework. Big data can identify the cases of dengue fever or malaria cases on a map and predict the spread of disease by overlaying the disease map with that of the movement of people. India will soon have the second-largest smartphone market in the world. Therefore, by using mobile phone data analytics and real-time movement of infected people, it is possible to pinpoint sources of infection and predict areas of transmission.
Related Questions:
  • What do you understand by Big Data? Discuss some of its applications. (200 Words)

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