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What’s the Big Deal with Data?
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What’s the Big Deal with Data? 

‘What’s the Big Deal with Data’ was released late last year by BSA | The Software Alliance, a leading advocate for the global software industry before the government and the international marketplace. The paper’s main focuses are software, data, and the crucial answers people want to know. 

It outlines concrete examples of how people are improving their lives each day with data answers which range from helpful everyday advice and better urban planning, to earlier predictions of weather crises and life-saving healthcare breakthroughs. Furthermore, it emphasizes the implications for policy makers around the globe, including the need to establish clear rules for data flow as well as invest in the IT workforce. 

The report possesses an in depth explanation of data as an innovative, transformative tool, and of the dramatic improvements in data analytics which are helping others find surprising solutions. Without imposing on an individual’s privacy, it also smooths out the misunderstandings about how data is gathered and used most often.

“People’s ground-breaking use of data is causing extraordinary change and progress across the globe. Their data-related efforts are empowering other people and communities, and helping businesses use resources more effectively,” said BSA President and CEO Victoria Espinel. “As the data-driven economy grows, new software will continue to help us all better understand and transform this data into even more real, actionable solutions.” 

BSA’s paper brings attention to how the emerging data-driven economy is affecting numerous districts such as manufacturing, transportation, energy, agriculture, education, and healthcare. Consequently, $15 trillion is expected to be added to the global GDP by 2030. Espinel noted how it will represent a significant boost to the global economy. 

In fact, more than 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in just the past two years and the data producing rate is doubling every two years. 

“The biggest challenge now is knowing how to harness this data and put it to work,” Espinel said.  “Data must be best gathered, stored, analyzed, and translated to achieve meaningful results, and decision makers around the world must understand the importance of policies that best enable this to happen.”

Espinel observed the ample opportunity presented to lawmakers and regulators for establishing clear rules which will promote the free flow of data across borders, and invest in the much-needed IT workforce to open marketplaces and let companies innovate. 

From the ‘What’s the Big Deal with Data?’ report, we present several of the ways that answers from data and software are being converted into life-improving answers: 

Earlier predictions of weather crises: By using data analytics and marine sensors that monitor waves, currents, and other data, researchers are effectively using them to better predict tsunamis and other natural disasters. Their studies usher in the potential to save thousands of people living in coastal areas that are threatened by tsunamis.

Saving more “preemies”: By tracking more than 1,000 data points a second, researchers shocked doctors by showing how prematurely born infants with unusually stable vital signs were associated with serious fevers the next day –allowing doctors to take preventive action and save lives.

Reducing Commute Times: In Stockholm, Sweden, there were 1,600 GPS systems installed within taxi cabs. Their purpose was to collect data on traffic flows. Afterwards, software was used to analyze traffic data to inform the city’s plans to reduce congestion. As a result, traffic was reduced by 20 percent, travel times were cut in half, and auto emissions were down 10 percent.

Increasing farming yields: Farmers from Iowa to India are using data from seeds, satellites, sensors, and tractors to make better decisions about what to grow, when to plant, how to track food freshness from farm to fork, and how to adapt to changing climates.

Designing energy-efficient buildings: In the United Arab Emirates, new data tools are being used to design the world’s first positive-energy building, a building that actually produces more energy than it consumes. If successful, this model could be implemented worldwide and have a dramatic effect on our global carbon footprint.

Improving aviation: Data is being used to improve flight performance, cut turbulence, improve safety, and identify engine defects 2,000 times faster than before. Aviation data is also helping improve flight path planning, and letting crews know that a part needs replacing before it fails. 

Building smart cities: Barcelona is harnessing data to build a smarter city, giving city officials the ability to examine traffic patterns, analyze where to put public bike stations, and identify which corners of the city need more ATMs.

“The wide range of problems that data is solving shows how much impact the data revolution already is having on the world economy,” Espinel said. “Of course there are significant issues, such as user privacy, that need to be thoughtfully addressed.  But with boundless information, the possibilities are limitless for everything from classrooms and hospitals to highways and robotics.  Effectively gathering, storing, analyzing and transforming invaluable data will let people continue to improve their lives, and grow our innovation economy as a whole. 

To read more data breakthroughs and view a video summary of BSA’s ‘What’s the Big Deal with Data?’, visit www.bsa.org/data.

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