This post touches on just a few of the many ways that Big Data will be changing (and improving) our lives. Let’s begin with a quick recap by answering the following question: “Just what is Big Data anyway?”

Well according to the Wikipedia definition: Big Data is an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. The challenges include analysis, capture, curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, and privacy violations. The data that makes up all this Big Data can come from anywhere and everywhere including computers, smartphones, tablets, POS systems, etc. The sources of this data will continue to grow and industry analysts often find it useful to categorize. These are among the most familiar and recognized categories of data:

• Open Data —environmental data (e.g. weather), law enforcement, sports analysis, etc.
• Social Networks — the backbone of our social media
• Internet of Things (IoE) — this category includes physical or environmental smart sensors, home automation, smart watches, bio-medical bracelets, smart cars, etc.
• Personal Data — this could include private healthcare info, personal blogs, etc.
• User Generated Data – original content such as video uploads
• Commercial Data — POS and ecommerce transactions, e-banking, etc.

These ever growing sources of data will redefine our measurement vocabulary. By 2015, we expect that the term “Zettabytes” will be the most commonly used measure of storage space.

Here’s a quick guide to illustrate these storage measurements:

1 Zettabyte (ZB) = 1,000 Exabytes (EB)
1 EB = 1,000 Petabytes (PB)
1 PB = 1,000 Terabytes (TB)
1 TB = 1,000 Gigabytes (GB)
1 GB = 1,000 Megabytes (MB)

Anyone who purchased a computer recently probably had at least a one Terabyte hard drive in it. These were already commonplace in computers last year (2013) and companies like Wal-Mart are already collecting 2.5 petabytes of data per hour from their customer transactions.

One of the big challenges is how do we store such large volumes of data. It has the IT community rethinking how databases are architected and managed. In fact, several new database access systems have recently been developed {referred to as NoSQL} and these have changed the way the massive data sets of Big Data are stored, accessed and updated. All of these sources of data will produce massive data sets which will be everywhere. If properly channeled they can move us toward an even more interconnected planet or what some might say a “smart planet”.

This level of fully interconnected data will usher in a whole new generation of smart cars, advanced home automation, personalized entertainment, on demand healthcare, etc. The possibilities are endless. Here are just a few of the promises that Big Data will be able to fulfill and have a significant improvement on people’s lives:

• Websites and apps will be faster and safer
• Everyone could have access to higher education
• Roads will be safer and commuting times faster
• There will be much more accurate weather predictions
• Healthcare will be more efficient, effective and customized
• Businesses can deliver dramatically improved levels of customer service
• There will be much better and safer systems for finding your match (online dating)
• Personal entertainment will be customized and instantly available

Big Data is already transforming the world and people’s lives and our next blog post will take a more in-depth look at how some of these benefits will be achieved. In the meantime, the infographic {below} offers a glimpse at some of these exciting new developments.

Credit: The above infographic was sourced from