Alagappan Ramanathan, a professor of environmental science at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, wants to change that. In September he sent about a dozen students with degrees in computer science, information science, environmental science, remote sensing, and geography—half of whom had never seen snow—on a two-week hike of Chhota Shigri, a glacier 70 miles west of the Tibetan border in northern India. “For 15 days, you see no other people and only rocks and ice,” says Ramanathan, who funded the trip and one last year with grants from the Indian and Swiss governments. Far from their laptops, the students clambered over boulders and braved crevasses on icy snowfields 16,000 feet above sea level, where temperatures can drop to 5F.
At the Microsoft Fall Analyst event, I perked up when two dogs were on a panel. They did not say much but got the most attention in the room as they sat well behaved at the foot of four human panelists. As a dog lover, I just had to go say hello
They work for Trupanion, the pet insurance company. If like me, you don’t know much about that type of insurance, it’s because only 1% of North America's 180 million pets are insured. The UK has about 30% of their pets insured and Sweden has about 40% . Trupanion is on a mission to change that with its offering which pays 90% of actual veterinary costs for approved accident and illness claims, minus the deductible
I started asking them about the analytics that power their risk decisions and pricing. Britta Gidican invited me to come visit their HQ – I took a rain check to visit their facility which is dotted with pets and panels of every kind. She arranged instead a call with T.J. Houk, their VP of Analytics. He is a walking encyclopedia on the 400 breeds they track actuarial data on.
Here is the eye popping stat – when the company was founded (in Canada in 1999) it had only 8 price categories , now they exceed 1.2 million prices. The breed, the age of the pet, the deductible and the zip code of the insured are the major price drivers. The zip code is critical because some regions have more sophisticated vet services (so in Beverly Hills there are more MRI machines, more cancer treatments than in most other cities) and the Trupanion plan is designed to be somewhat simple and not have to negotiate too much with the insured.
T.J. also described their use of SiSense analytics – see video below (and Tableau, R, Excel and other technology). He also described an environment with lots of displays and (Surface and other) tablets where data and visualization is pervasive.
BTW, I interviewed Amit Bendov, CEO of SiSense in my new book, SAP Nation. He has an impressive technology which he describes as the ‘world’s smallest Big Data solution"
The University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business began its Master of Business Analytics program this fall with 30 students. About 50 to 60 students are expected to enroll in the $47,000 program next year, the school said.
The program was the brainchild of Marshall’s corporate advisory board-executives at blue-chip firms like General Electric Co. , Boeing Co. and Walt Disney Co. who say they need more hires with analytics talent, said James Ellis, the school’s dean. The board also recommended that undergraduate students at Marshall be required to take a course in the subject.
Personally I despise hubs and changing planes, but you have to admire the algorithms and Big Data of gate, flight, passenger, crew, ground staff. weather and other information that is going into this “peak scheduling”
“Peak scheduling packs planes better because it creates more possible itineraries. Under American's old schedule, a flight from Columbus, Ohio, to Miami might have had 20 possible connecting flights. After the Aug. 19 re-peaking it may have 45. That means more bookings on the Columbus flight, and more people on the connecting flights.
In Miami on a typical weekday, 42 flights depart between 9 and 10 a.m. Then between 10 and 11 a.m., only a handful are scheduled to take off. The process repeats during the day with 10 "banks" of flights that fill about 45 gates at a time.”
Algorithmia is a marketplace where companies can buy small pieces of code or whole programs created by academics, ranging from language-recognition functions to analytics for Web traffic or predicting user purchases.
Deep in the bowels of the Stata Center on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's campus is an energy war room.
A row of flat-screen monitors lines one wall, showing exhaustive data on energy use in dozens of buildings across the campus. Buildings are displayed in colors that depend on their overall energy use. If a building is red, that indicates an energy leak in one of its lighting, climate-control or ventilation systems, or a water leak. The system, using software from KGS Buildings LLC, can also predict where problems will crop up.
"It makes us more efficient, because we know what to look for," says Balby Etienne, an MIT buildings-systems analyst. He also credits the software for a big drop in temperature and humidity complaints.
Cargill, of suburban Minneapolis, represents a formidable new competitor. Its $134.9 billion in fiscal 2014 sales ranked it as the largest U.S. agricultural firm and the country's largest privately held company. The 149-year-old company has long advised farmers on farming strategies and the best time to sell grain. In 1996, Cargill began sampling soil and experimenting with applying different amounts of fertilizer to various fields, depending on how many nutrients the ground already held, Mr. Becraft said.
NextField DataRx represents a more information-intensive version of Cargill's advisory service, incorporating historical weather data, satellite imagery and farmers' own information.
The animation above shows all scheduled flights over a 24h period (based on 2008 data). Every day 93,000 flights are starting from approx. 9,000 airports. At any time there are between 8,000 and 13,000 airplanes in the air. This animation was produced to be shown on the high definition 3D-Globe "Orbitarium" in Technorama - The Swiss Science Center in collaboration with Institute of Applied Information Technology InIT, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur.
Now, think a few years from now where most planes will have sensors in engines, flaps, landing gear and how much performance/maintenance data they will generate. Boeing 787s are expected to generate 1/2 terabyte of data a flight.
Think how much data will be streamed to and from these planes as more airlines offer wi-fi at 12mbps and better speeds (as ViaSat is delivering on some Jetblue flights)
Or how many page views will FlightAware get as more families and passengers track flights (below is image from their Live Flight Tracker)
and depressingly think how much more emissions will go towards global warming – half a pound of CO2 per passenger mile.
It’s an irony of the second Age of Reason that the abundance of data—the effervescence of sources and ease of delivery—makes so many more questions answerable while at the same time making it very easy to get lost. We’ve dedicated an issue to exploration, to a broad, cross-platform look at the fruits of Big Data.