Our sensors are programmed to register data every 2 seconds. This adds up to well over 15 million measurements per year. As they have an estimated battery life of about 15 years, this means that they measure the temperature of their surroundings almost 240 million times before they’re done. Is this Big Data?
No, not automatically. According to a number of research articles and other prominent sources, Big Data is characterised by three Vs: Volume, Velocity and Variety.
The digital cornerstone
‘Volume’ refers to the volume of data. A ‘bit’ (lower case b), short for binary digit, is the basic unit for digital information. It is binary in the sense that it is either 0 or 1. Bits operate in groups of eight and are then called a ‘byte’ (upper case B). A byte is still a fairly microscopic volume of data, but as soon as we reach a kilobyte (1 KB=1024 bytes), we can start talking about information. In pure text, 1 kilobyte is roughly the equivalent of what you have read in this post so far.
The digital universe is expanding…
The digital sphere expanded beyond the scope of comprehension long ago. Kilobyte is followed by megabyte, and then giga, tera, peta and exa. In 2010, the digital universe surpassed a zettabyte in volume, and when we reach the next level, yotta, we will have to expand the metric system to make room. The total number of websites is approaching two billion. The volume of analysis data needed to qualify for the Big Data label is unclear, but we will have to assume that it is quite a bit.
At the speed of light
The gadgets we are more or less consciously fiddling with log vast amounts of information about us and our surroundings every single second. More and more things are also producing a steady stream of information on their own. A report from analysis agency IHS Markit estimates that there will be more than 30 billion gadgets online by the end of this year. Traffic exceeding 50 000 GB is flowing through these gadgets each second. Insight into parts of this traffic picture provide a perspective on the world that was previously inaccessible.
And includes new forms of expression
The last, and perhaps most interesting, characteristic of Big Data is ‘variation’. Researchers Gandomi and Haider (2015) write that ‘variety refers to the structural heterogeneity in a dataset’. In layman’s terms, this means that we are now able to collect and analyse a multitude of different expressions that are not related to the same standard. Apart from old-fashioned digital values such as numbers and coordinates, machines are now capable of seeing and understanding text, audio and photos in a fairly precise manner. More and more of the physical world is now reflected digitally, which is both a bit frightening, but also educational.
Our sensors give you a detailed overview of temperature, humidity, pressure, light and valves, and a number of exciting sensors are in the works. Used in a beneficial manner, this provides you and your processes, machines, vessels and buildings with wireless security, digital insight and new opportunities.
If you were wondering what your neighbour had for dinner yesterday, the whereabouts of your teenage son or daughter, or where you really want to go on vacation this year, you’ll have better luck checking the multisensor most likely located in your right pocket.