Big Data Analytics in Healthcare and Other Industries

Big Data Analytics in Healthcare is just one of the many areas that big data has crept into in recent years. The usefulness and potential of big data cannot be overemphasised.  Because of ow powerful, it is, of course, there is the potential of it being misused and it’s probably already happening.

There is much hope that big data will help improve healthcare. In 2011 Google came up with a project called Google Flu where they intended to use big data information to predict flu trend. A brilliant idea which didn’t work out but it was a great idea and shows all the potential that  big data holds for the healthcare industry and other industries. Like big data could be used to predict trends in a whole lot of other things, like to improve traffic patterns, population trends, immigration trends etc. Is technology is growing and getting more advanced so is its ability to use big data for more amazing and ground breaking things.

Gathering data did not just start in recent times, data has always been collected even before technology and the existence of supercomputers. There are century old data available on climate, population trends, demographics, business, government activities. When the internet was invented and websites started people started to transfer this data into digital form. And everyday that was created from then on was automatically stored.

Today with social media every activity is being stored. Every keystroke, every image uploaded, every status update and every activity such is picture liked, music listened to etc is being stored. When people use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms they volunteer their personal information for access to these “free” services. These days even information about yourself you didn’t know you had or might have forgotten about is stored in a database and accumulated with other data is big data. Besides personal data, general data is being collected all around society too. Video cameras all over public spaces are collecting data, cable tv is collecting data and able to see trends of what people prefer, and mobile devices are tracking your every move and location.

Mobile apps especially have so much potential. Right now they track when you wake up an when you go to bed, where you go (so for example, what restaurants, grocery stores etc0 and with health apps they can even track much more. This information could potentially be used to provide better health to patients and improve overall population health. Like if there’s an outbreak, big data can be used to track everyone in that area and use that to stop the spread.

The other side of this argument of this is of course is the possibility of this data being used by people with sinister motives to invade our privacy and track people. The government for example could use this data to subdue a group of people, track them, and have complete power and dominance of people.

Already data about people personal preferences is already used by bog companies in marketing. Now marketers can through social media platforms target people with ads based on their behaviour and preferences.  Marketers are correlating information about people’s gender, age, education, location, and socioeconomic status and using this to sell more and more to people and politicians are fine-tuning their campaigns. There’s also been speculation that the NSA listens to people and the FBI can watch people through their webcams on their computers and also their phone cameras.

Targeting people with marketing ads that they are more likely to respond seems harmless till the same technology is used to target campaign ads and feed into people’s fears and eventually sway an election and policies. More and more is being done with data and with artificial intelligence, the possibilities will become even higher.

There is also the potential for the education system. Is our preferences are being tracked, the same can be done (and is already being done in some schools) to track a students learning habits, and understand how to teach them better. Using data gathered by digital learning devices, test scores, attendance, and habits, the teacher could be informed of which students to focus on, what to emphasize, and how best to teach an individual child. This could change the education system itself.

In the business industry, big data analytics is also taking over and being used for more and more things. In the past, most companies and organizations have saved petabytes of data, but mostly in unstructured formats, and having duplicate entries and other errors. This is why data cleansing is a big part of the process of big data in business. The first service that would be required is data collection, followed by data cleansing since we all know about the bane of dirty data.

When we hear, “big data”, the first thing that comes to mind are complex models and colorful inferences in the form of 3D graphs. The reality is far from it. On average, 60-80% of the total project time, is spent by data-scientists to prepare their data, clean it, and store it in an organized fashion. Organizations should higher data specialist to do this so it’s done efficiently and in the proper manner.

Most data scientists find cleaning and preparing data as the most tedious and most enjoyable part of their work, but after all, it is the most important one so hiring enough could help them better delegate and not be overwhelmed with the tedious work.