Rhiannon Garth JonesFebruary 6, 2018

How big data is changing the world

We hear a lot about how artificial intelligence and machine learning are going to change the world; how 3D printing will revolutionize health and manufacturing; how the Internet of Things will make everyone’s life easier. But what’s the one thing that underpins all these revolutionary technologies? Big data. When we talk about how all these things are going to change the world, we really mean big data.

Big data is both extremely simple and incredibly complex: data is, after all, just information, and we already know how powerful a weapon information can be. The complicated bit is the sheer volume of information that we’re talking about here – much more than traditional processors can handle. More data was produced in 2017 than the previous 5,000 years of human history. And we make more every day: hence ‘big’ data.

Here are some industries where big data has been a game-changer.


Big data is underpinning precision medicine, which is the current forefront of healthcare. Governments are investing in it as well as the major pharmaceutical companies because the possibilities are remarkable: not only could we perfectly fit medical treatments to the patient’s genetic makeup and condition, but genome mapping could predict and prevent diseases – removing the need for many drugs and surgeries. Information about genetics and variations in responses to treatments is crucial to that vision of the future.

Urban planning

It might not seem the coolest way to improve your life but it’s amazing what living in a well-planned town or city can do for your quality of life. Noise reduction, lower congestion and less pollution, better health services: these are just the earliest predictions of what Smart Cities could achieve. Increasingly, cities are looking to big data to help them respond to the challenges of aging populations and rapid urbanization. Seattle has implemented a traffic system that adapts to changing road and weather conditions, and Barcelona has smart LED street lights that respond to movement.


The way most people experience the effects of big data is when they shop: both in what they buy and how they buy it. Anyone who has bought something online has experienced how online websites encourage shoppers to buy more but traditional companies use data in similar ways: to understand consumer buying behavior and modify their stores and products accordingly to persuade customers to buy more and to minimize stock waste. And think about smartphones, smartwatches, smart speakers… all these things rely on data to be as amazing as they are.

That’s why data is so important and that’s why, at Ocean.io, we think it matters that you have the best quality data possible.

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