The commonly heard notion that big data will change our lives is usually in reference to immediate impacts like consumer technology or commerce. But data has the quiet potential to improve just about every industry that touches our lives, including a few we might not have expected. Here are five examples of fields big data is changing without most of us noticing.
Improving health care quality using real-time data
Health care quality improvement is traditionally based on a retrospective analysis, where researchers analyze data to measure effectiveness once patient care is completed. This model is proving to be increasingly ineffective for one reason: by the time professionals complete the care, any negative effects on the patient have already occurred. Today, health professionals are considering prospective analytical models that would let doctors better respond to quality improvement – and real-time data makes this possible.
Real-time analytics dashboards, such as those used by the Florida-based AdventHealth, are a new tool for enhancing professional medical care. Their purpose is to compile patient records and measure potential areas for concern, identifying any areas where standard processes are breaking down. This platform allows clinicians and technicians to input new data and make quality adjustments from moment to moment.
While this technology is relatively new, it’s already showing results. One dashboard deployment at AdventHealth quickly generated a high ROI, improving CLABSI scores, CAUTI scores, and vaccine compliance rates. Along with improving patient care, these metrics can raise the CMS Star rating of the hospital itself.
Reviving the global music industry
When CD sales dipped in the early 2000s, it prompted a recession across the entire global music industry. But as streaming technologies improved and smartphones became more common, a major data-based resurgence began.
Today, the majority of music is consumed on smartphones, usually through streaming services. According to Nielsen, album equivalent audio increased by 47% in 2017, while streaming revenue paid $9.8 billion for artists and labels in 2018. Worldwide subscription music services are expected to increase from 176 million to 225 million by the end of 2019.
That’s promising enough, but streaming accounts for roughly half of the music industry’s revenue. The other half comes from tours and live performances, which artists can strategically plan using customer data, targeting the most lucrative touring opportunities based on regional music preferences. The strategy is paying off: Pollstar recently broke records by collecting $10.4 billion across 152.1 million ticket sales. Between live performances and streaming sales, musicians may soon have the highest revenue opportunities in almost 20 years.
Creating better black boxes for airplanes
When an airplane disaster strikes, locating the data-rich black box is essential for determining what went wrong. But what if the plane is lost at sea, or cannot be recovered? These are not theoretical concerns — it took two years to recover the black box from Air France Flight 447, which crashed in 2009. Meanwhile, it appears the infamous Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 may never be found.
In response, Honeywell has partnered with manufacturer Curtiss-Write to create a next-generation black box. This device will feature a 25-hour runtime, increased storage options, and most importantly, transmission capabilities for accessing data in real-time. This will make it possible to use satellite connections to obtain flight records without physically retrieving the box itself. That alone could make it easier to locate wreckages and save lives.
Sharing whole genome sequencing data to jump-start research
We’ve seen major advancements in genome research, but applying these results to real-world disease outbreaks often requires a fast turnaround. Thankfully, scientists are meeting this challenge by uploading genome sequencing data in real-time to a public database.
One project highlighted by News-Medical showcases the potential of real-time genome sequencing. The project began in response to a 2016 foodborne illness outbreak that lasted for about a month in New York. Researchers conducted whole-genome sequencing of the offending bacteria, Bacillus cereus, in an attempt to link isolates in food and human clinical cases. Since Bacillus cereus outbreaks are often resolved quickly and under-reported, this marked a prime opportunity to obtain accurate data.
Once the lab has sequenced particular isolates, the results are uploaded to the National Center for Biotechnology. From there, genome sequences are available globally to any lab registered with the center. This allows scientists to detect and prevent outbreaks far quicker than using their traditional capabilities, and ensure that the exact causes are reliably identified.
Real-time data map of global economy
Our global economy is an enormously complex ecosystem where small events can have major effects on markets around the world. Measuring these events precisely is an immense challenge, but one fintech startup called Enigma is making that process easier — thanks to a real-time digital map of entire economies.
Enigma was founded in response to the 2008 financial crisis with the goal of better tracking global disruptions and measuring their effects. The service collects data points from thousands of publicly available sources, aggregates them, and outputs customizable views up to a global scale. In one notable example, Enigma accurately tabulated the full effects of last month’s US government shutdown in real-time, measuring everything from unpaid wages to hours worked without compensation.
Beyond finance, Enigma can be used to visualize concepts like gender gaps or identify threats to fire safety. But the startup has quickly become a major player in global economics, thanks to companies like PayPal and BlackRock paying $1 million license fees annually for its insights.
Real-time data can change our lives for the better. As organizations like Enigma and the above projects indicate, we probably haven’t even come close to reaching the heights of what real-time data is capable of.
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