Big Data

Top non-commercial big data success stories

Thomas Bosshard
  • Thomas Bosshard


  • Big Data

Not only businesses are embracing analytics to gain competitive edge.

Animal conservation

Earth Insights, a big data solution developed by the technology company Hewlett Packard in collaboration with Conservation International, collects data from more than 1000 cameras and climate sensors scattered over 16 tropical forests in Brazil, Uganda and Indonesia. Based on HP’s Vertica technology, measurements cover a broad number of environmental factors that yielded large sets of data consisting of over 1.4 million images, 3 million climate measurements and over 3 TB of biodiversity information that were analyzed and visualized using real-time ana-lytics. According to HP, data that would usually take environmentalist months or years to collate can now be made available in a matter of minutes as actionable insights to scientists and gov-ernments all over the world. The program was designed to be used as an early warning system to target endangered animals and guide decisions regarding investments to protect these species in a timely manner.

Germany’s FIFA World Cup victory

Developed as a joint project between the German Football Association (DFB) and SAP, Match Insights – customized analytics software based on SAP’s HANA technology – helped the Ger-mans extract insights into their opponents’ performance from data gathered before and during the tournament. Match Insights converts footage from eight video cameras surrounding the pitch into key performance indicators such as speed of passing, average ball possession, speed and distance travelled, positioning and number of ball touches. This data was made available to the German team’s management, coach and to individual players’ mobile devices via a custom-built app and might just have given the German national team the competitive edge to win the World Cup in Brazil.

Big data meets human genomics in the fight against cancer

Big data technology is becoming a key enabler in the fight against cancer. One of the most promising fields of cancer research is human genomics as cancer growth is driven by DNA de-fects or genomic alterations. Being able to correlate a patient’s genomic information and clinical history with data from thousands of other patients can help discern patterns that could guide decision-making regarding treatment. For this reason major cancer centers around the world are now teaming up with analytics solution providers to gain insights from large data sets that can help personalize a patient’s treatment.

The Obama/Biden re-election campaign

President Obama’s winning election campaign relied heavily on data science. As part of its fundraising efforts, the campaign’s analysts explored vast demographic databases. Modeling was used to understand the electorate at the individual voter level. Key performance indicator for the campaign was the number of people planning to vote for Obama. Data contained facts about the electorate as well as the campaign operation to help the campaign learn how its actions influenced people. The campaign was also able to determine which groups of people were most likely to donate, raising millions of dollars.

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