Data by the zeta byte

December 10th, 2011 by Stephen Jones Leave a reply »

The November 2011 edition of Popular Science magazine isdevoted to data and how to use it to “transform the world”.

In 2010, there was around1.2 zetabytes of data (a zetabyte is a trillion gigabytes), and tby the end of 2011 there will be about 1.8 zetabytes.

Impressive numbers (and maybe  a good time to  self: invest in some hard drive company shares),but  raw data is, by itself, worthless. For data to be useful, it must be analyzed and interpreted. Storing data is easy, putting it to good use can be very difficult, and organizations are trying hard.

Google is in the process of collecting every word published since the year 1500, about 500 billion words so far. It has already created an entirely new field of study called culturomics, for the study of human behavior and cultural trends through the analysis of digitized texts, which are then used to predict future trends.  ( Isaac Asimov’s Foundation book series, where a science he calls psychohistory,  combines the knowledge of history, sociology and mathematical statistics to make predictions about the future).

Today I  read in Gulf News Business section an interview with Harold Goldjin, the founder of Tom Tom for in car navigation systems which was adopted faster than fax, email etc. Now you can get such services cheaply on your phone, so the company profits started to fall and they evolved a new business model. One of these allows the individual car GPS to send data back to a central database along with other drivers route plans to predict where bottlenecks may occur and re-route drivers accordingly. It could extend to  an in car sim providing data for car sharing arrangements, or for car insurance charges based on miles driven and the current road conditions, traffic and risk.

Also today in Gulf News there was a pertinent article about (Gordon) Moore’s Law (1965) ie. that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles about every 2 years. Since I first worked on silicon chips in 1970 with Plessey Research the number has amazingly  grown from just 1,000 to 2 billion.

As use of mobile applications increases and You Yube becomes one of the most used websites (6 million hits daily from the Gulf region)  ,  and video and audio streaming etc increases rapidl,y so does the amount of data flowing and the neeed for increased bandwidth.

 In 2010 the the data capacity in the region was  379 gbps (equivalent to 250,000 movie downloads) and its increasing rapidly and that is without considering Iraq yet to come on stream. Business regularly now presents over the web. Medical experts collaborate with sophisticated imaging, cloud based computing, SharePoint etc   will all drive demand for bandwidth . The Gulf Bridge International cable network is the answer.  It will use 40G fibre optic (industry norm is 1o Gb)  and will be the first subsea cable operator with 100 GB connectivity.

This is a major plus  for both businesses in the region and for personal use.

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