big data analytics

Big Data 101 & What Its Future Means for You

2 minutes

Even if you aren’t an IT wizard, you may have recently heard the term “Big Data.” In today’s ever-changing technological sphere, Big Data is an element of how all types of data and information is stored and used. Here are some basics of Big Data that will help you understand how it benefits you — both now and in the future.

What Is Big Data?

If you’re reading this right now, you’re one of over 3 billion internet users in the world today. With that many people surfing the web, it’s no surprise that their actions and information — including your own — require innovative storage and organization to keep things running smoothly. This information and how it is developed, managed and stored is what we call Big Data.

Facebook — easily the most well-known and popular social media site today — is a prime example of how the average internet user interacts with Big Data. It’s also an example of how today’s technology can handle significant amounts of data storage and processing. With over 600 terabytes of information processed every day, Facebook requires a huge storage facility to back up not only the incoming data but also the data stored in the past.

To achieve this, Facebook has a data warehouse that holds over 300 petabytes. To put that in perspective, each petabyte equates to 1024 terabytes or one million gigabytes. But Big Data isn’t only about how much storage space you have. It’s also about fitting as much information in there as possible. File compression techniques such as RCFile and JSON are used to better index the information brought in each day.

How Does Big Data Affect You?

Though many people are skeptical of using the cloud for their data storage, having an online backup of all of your work can be a godsend should your computer be lost in a fire or some other disaster. Luckily, finding a cloud service is easy, and most offer reasonable rates if you’re looking to keep backups of basic documents and some photos.

Besides storing your information or connecting on social media, Big Data plays an important role around you. From security camera logs to large chain store sales, large swathes of data can and are being collected all around you. And how that data is used is the next fascinating step.

Analytics uses information collected in Big Data to better understand behaviors and trends. Analytics can provide great insights on things like shopping habits, advertisement reception, even political and economic trends. This isn’t to say we should be paranoid about “Big Brother watching us,” but instead we should consider how all of this data collected can be used to better understand ourselves and cut out practices that simply don’t work.

What Is the Future of Big Data?

One of the key uses of Big Data will be its involvement in global urbanization. By 2050, the UN predicts at least 66% of the world’s population will live in urban regions. The ability to access Big Data on the sustainability of growing cities is crucial for their survival.

With a world population that continues to grow and is working toward lowering our carbon footprint at the same time, efficiency in transportation is imperative. We will depend on Big Data to accurately run self-driving cars, course-correcting heavy traffic at an instant should there be an accident.

Big Data can also be extremely helpful in healthcare, and it’s already estimated to save nearly $400 billion in the United States. By analyzing data showing trends in patients’ histories and treatments, doctors can standardize good practices, thereby saving money for both providers and patients. It also saves lives.

Is the future of Big Data set in stone? No, but it’s immense foundation and natural stepping stone for the evolution of technology. Just as language began with a few simple words, there was no way to know back then that we would have so many languages and so many outlets for communication. One thing is for sure — Big Data will continue to play a huge role in our futures.

Category: Space

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Article by: Megan Ray Nichols

Megan Ray Nichols is a freelance science writer and science enthusiast. Her favorite subjects include astronomy and the environment. She encourages discussions in these fields. Megan is also a regular contributor to Datafloq, The Energy Collective, and David Renke's World of Space. When she isn't writing, Megan loves watching movies, hiking and stargazing. Love what you're reading on Schooled By Science? Don't forget to subscribe today!