We often hear about big data and how it seemingly controls everything around us. Often, the influence big data has on our lives is opaque and invisible. Just how does big data impact your life, really?
If you use a smartphone or social media, it determines a great deal of what you watch, read, listen to and more. Besides, big data permeates all aspects of modern life, too. From health services to traffic, it is everywhere. Let’s delve into some examples of data in everyday life below.
The Big Data Impact on Consumers
When shopping online, retailers and advertisers pull on big data to target you with deals and suggested items. These are based on your purchasing or browsing history or a combination of both. For example, Amazon tracks what you’ve bought and looked at, then compares this data with what other users have viewed or purchased. Together, it surfaces up items you’re likely to buy.
The big data impact on consumers isn’t limited to shopping online. Loyalty programs provide brick-and-mortar stores with rich data on what people are buying. Enough so to build a profile based on your purchasing habits. This often results in ads, discounts and other promotions that the retailer has personalized for you.
How Data Impacts Music Streaming
Data analysis in everyday life allows everyone to have their own, personal radio stations. Music streaming services collect both crowdsourced user feedback (in the form of liking/disliking a track). Also, they collect data pulled from their libraries (like Pandora’s Music Genome Project) to algorithmically curate playlists and stations for each individual user. Spotify took this a step further by offering each user a personalized weekly playlist, whose thumbnail is emblazoned with the user’s photo.
Data Designs the Shows You Watch
Here’s why Netflix shows are so addictive: they’re designed from the ground up based on viewers’ watching habits. Leveraging customer data, Netflix identifies the most popular genres, concepts, actors and more. The streaming giant then uses predictive modelling to pool these disparate elements together into a show idea.
But it’s not just about the production of shows and movies. When you browse, Netflix will provide a rating for each title based on whether it thinks you’ll liked it or not. How do they know? By tapping into big data.
Big Data Fights Crime
How does big data impact your life? Sometimes the benefit is invisible and taken for granted. Crime-fighting is such an example.
While we’re not quite at the level of predictive policing seen in Hollywood’s Minority Report, big data does help police each day determine where and when crime is likely to occur next. This helps your local police force decide where to station officers at any given time. Thanks to big data, our streets are a bit safer with less wasted resources.
The Big Data Impact on Health Services
Some of the most beneficial examples of data in everyday life lies in the health sector. One way is through the digitizing of medical records, which en masse helps medical professionals determine which treatments are effective or not for a given ailment. The spread of disease may also be tracked quickly this way.
Next, many people make use of “quantified self” apps that track sleep patterns, heartbeat rates, distance walked and other health and fitness metrics. DNA testing services like 23andMe leverage big data to determine customers’ ethnicity as well as which ailments they may be genetically predisposed to.
Big Data Gets You Where You Need to Be on Time
The reason why you’re able to get to work on time is because of big data. Numerous real-time data metrics go into ensuring traffic runs smoothly, including:
- GPS systems (including your mobile phone!)
- Social media use
- Magnetic sensors installing in the road system
Together, this data helps agencies manage the roads by setting traffic light sequences or redirecting bus routes.
Your favorite map app uses similar data to determine the fastest route to your destination, along with an estimated time of arrival. Also, with a calendar app, it might even alert you when you should leave for an appointment based on traffic data.
News and Other Media Consumption
For good or ill, big data determines what news and media will be recommended to you as you browse your newsfeed. For example, services like Facebook and Twitter surface content based on what’s shared or talked about most.
Social media use isn’t important just for determining what news gets attention. In the reporting stage, journalists sometimes use social media data to report a story. For example, you can use Twitter’s advanced search features to collect posts from both a specific time and place.
Chatbots Analyze Data to Accomplish Everyday Tasks
Perhaps one of the most useful examples of data in everyday life is chatbots. Chatbots leverage big data to provide hyper-personalized services or to help users find the exact information they need. Sometimes before they can even ask for it. Chatbots perform data analysis in everyday life, using sources like conversation history, location history, past purchases and more. Thus, the possibilities are endless because bots can pull from many different databases.
Botmakers further use big data by iterating their bots based on chatbot analytics. So, this means bots get “smarter” and more efficient. All thanks to conversational data supplied by users.
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