Big Data can leverage GIS to a whole new level

big data boomFuture historians will probably be identifying the first few decades of the 21st century as the time when Big Data took the world by storm. Over the past decade or so, the growth in the amount of data stored on the Earth has been staggering. The advent of social networks, increased device mobility and an e-savvy population has led to a massive flood of unstructured data about anything and everything imaginable.
Gartner defines Big Data as

Big data are high volume, high velocity, and/or high variety information assets that require new forms of processing to enable enhanced decision-making, insight discovery and process optimization.

This definition identifies 3 ‘V’s of Big Data:

Volume- The sheer volume of data present.
Velocity- The velocity at which this data grows.
Variety- The variety in the nature, subject and structure (or lack of) of data.

Needless to say, it is vital to generate a fourth ‘V’ to the above three: Value. Value cannot be obtained, it needs to be identified, generated and acted upon. GIS can be a very powerful tool in generating value out of this very unstructured data.

A lot of generated data has some spatial significance to it. GIS Analysts can help identify this significance by recognizing trends, patterns and outliers in the troves of generated data that could be crucial to making good decisions. This information can be overlaid as themes on a map to visualize these trends and patterns.

This information can be used by Governments all over to recognize issues quickly and accurately. Disaster Management can be mad more effective by filtering data for significant chatter about events. Businesses can use GIS-enabled services to map their influence over markets and recognise potential customers and areas that need to be strengthened.

GIS can be of huge significance in managing and making sense of Big Data. We, as analysts need to step up to the challenge and help make empowered decisions and make the movers and shakers of this planet realize just how powerful GIS can be.

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