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A day in the life of big data

A project led by famed “Day in the Life” photographer Rick Smolan, which is intended to demonstrate the power of big data, is on schedule to get underway during the Australian spring.

Sponsored by storage giant EMC, the Human Face of Big Data project will be showcased at the EMC Forum being held in Sydney at the end of July. Unveiled earlier this year by Mr Smolan, the core concept is to send a posse of 100 international photographers out to capture images that portrayed how big data might be harnessed in the future.

Those images will eventually find their way into a book and app.

Mr Smolan has argued that unlocking the secrets in big data will prove at least as important to humanity as the internet has proven. He has offered the example of how Google could potentially determine, from the big data associated with searches for flu remedies, that a bug was about to hit a city far earlier than any official disease control centre.

Health and wellness is one of five main themes that the project will focus on to try to demonstrate practical applications of big data along other themes including environmental and safety applications.

The project now has a number of key elements; besides running the photography programme, it will encourage people all over the world to answer a series of questions on mobile devices to compile a data snapshot from what amounts to an army of human sensors.

A series of dashboards will be set up around the world to show how the information is being collected and analysed in order to demonstrate the potential value of big data. Meanwhile schools will also be offered access to toolkits to explain big data and its value to children.

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