Big data – big issue – and (maybe) big telematic data jobs

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Telematics generally, and telematics insurance and transport applications in particular, depend upon the swift processing of large amounts of data.

This data has value – it is being called the new oil. How is this oil to be piped, transported, stored and used?

The data issue is generating big concerns world-wide and according to at least one major player, there’s a shortage of people who can do the job.

One of the best attended sessions at last week’s (Japan, October 14-19) international Intelligent Transport Systems Congress concerned big data – what it is, where it is, what state it is in, who is using it, why they want it and how to use it to get the answers needed. And there is another question – who is supervising this in the public interest? And an interesting associated issue was flagged up – there is a shortage of people who can do the job – this in a new and expanding international field.

The major player in this particular session was Xerox.

It provided a neat summary of key issues it sees as facing the users of big data. This is what Xerox said (with my annotations).

Data is trapped and presently is in a form which cannot be used:

Data is trapped in legacy systems or has not been digitized
Up to 80% of data is unstructured, un-cleansed, and/or duplicated.

New thinking is needed as systems conflict with processes:

long data lifespan stresses storage while the value of data diminishes over time.

Who defines and then guards the data?

The volume, variety, and velocity of data require new data governance mechanisms, systematic thinking about data inventories, data stewardship, and master data management.

There is a big fat political issue flagged up here (though as presently expressed it appears confined to corporate issues.)

What this implies is a discussion is needed that involves the public interest. Put another way it requires legislation – and international legislation surely to sort out at least the following questions:

  • what is personal and private about this data
  • what is in the public realm
  • how is public and private to be separated for the general public good
  • how should the public and private information be best used (for the general public good)

See our discussion of these issues here in a submission we have made to the UK Parliament.

Skill shortage – career possibility?

Xerox went on to say:

Planning is needed to leverage the technology, skills, equipment, and standards needed to realize value.

… and it held up a tantalising carrot for those interested in the field looking for a career.

Finding skilled data scientists – those who devise theories, design experiments, and test hypothesis to extract relevant information from data – is challenging as relatively few exist and they are in high demand.

More information:  Xerox

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Jonathan Coe, Editor

Journalist and comms specialist for over 40 years – trained in print, broadcasting, and industrial intranet. Written about comms policy (eg. as radio editor at Time Out); held senior comms roles in public bodies (National Health Service, local government) and privatised undertakings (London Electricity – now Electricité de France). Since, has developed interests in the ordinary citizen's use of judicial review to challenge irrational decisions of government and the use of rights (like the Freedom of Information Act) to explore irrational decisions (like the BBC's original decision to close the BBC digital radio service BBC 6 Music).