Big Data and the Internet of Things

I recently wrote about the amazing amount of data being produced by people on the internet or mobile web. For example, every minute, YouTube gets 48 hours of video uploads, and nearly a quarter of a billion emails are sent… yes that’s what people do every minute.

However, that pales in comparison to the amount of data that will soon be generated by things – sensors, machines, monitors, switches and so on. Scroll down the infographic (from 2011) below, from CISCO, to see the immensity of big data that will soon be flowing from the Internet of Things.

As you can see, when farmers attach health monitors to cattle, each one sends 200MB of data per year. Apparently the total number of cattle in the US was 89.3 million. If every head of cattle had such a monitor that would result in over 16 petabytes of data collected annually.

A petabyte is about a billion megabytes. That’s big data.

Another example on the graphic, and written about last year, is that we could track every heartbeat of every person, using wearable heart monitors.

When we used to talk about “Data” (with a capital D) we might imagine research data from scientific endeavors, or corporate data tracking sales orders or factory output. Data was tracked because it was intrinsic to the activities that are central to our daily toil. Now data is extrinsic, coming from outside – whether generated by people (YouTube videos and emails) or machines (energy sensors, health sensors, traffic sensors).

The fact that we are interested in, and able to utilize, data coming to us from outside our immediate sphere of influence is what defines the age of big data.


1 comment:

Ariel Beery said...

It truly is amazing, what the IoT will do for our understanding of the world and what patterns underly it's functions. My fear is that we're not developing the cultural, moral or legal underpinnings to ensure this new force will be used for the good. Too easily have we allowed for all of our current data to be packaged and sold to the highest bidder...that data will represent so much more when sensors are integrated into everything we own.