Big data is less of a problem than it is an opportunity. EMC estimates that the digital universe will comprise more than 40,026 exabytes of data by 2020. Much of that data will be created not by humans but by other technology. As their numbers increase and they become more sophisticated, cars, medical devices and security cameras will create exponentially more data.
The scope of the data the government possesses is nearly unimaginable. The infographic below offers a glimpse at what the future of data will look like, by the numbers:
The proliferation of devices such as PCs and smartphones worldwide, increased Internet access within emerging markets and the boost in data from machines such as surveillance cameras or smart meters has contributed to the doubling of the digital universe within the past two years alone -- to a mammoth 2.8 ZB. IDC projects that the digital universe will reach 40 ZB by 2020, an amount that exceeds previous forecasts by 14%.
In terms of sheer volume, 40 ZB of data is equivalent to:
- There are 700,500,000,000,000,000,000 grains of sand on all the beaches on earth (or seven quintillion five quadrillion). That means 40 ZB is equal to 57 times the amount of all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth.
- If we could save all 40 ZB onto today’s Blue-ray discs, the weight of those discs (without any sleeves or cases) would be the same as 424 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
- In 2020, 40 ZB will be 5,247 GB per person worldwide.
The sheer volume of data is overwhelming, but while some agencies struggle to leverage big data, others are harnessing its power. Less than 0.5 percent of the world’s data is being analyzed, but that analysis is proving to be extremely useful:
A common successful first step in creating a culture around analytics, researchers found, was agencies tying specific activities directly to what they are intended to achieve and linking them to goals. Focusing on these details helps agencies employ a data-driven approach to managing programs, identify critical information to gauge progress and results, and ensure that only those activities that are key or essential to meeting desired results are performed.
To improve airport security, for example, a federal security director with the Transportation Security Administration worked with a team to break down the job of a transportation security officer at checkpoint and baggage areas. After analyzing and brainstorming around specific tasks related to the job, his team identified more than 1,300 knowledge areas, values and skills for a transportation security officer. Based on this analysis, they identified vulnerabilities in security screening and uncovered weaknesses in training, procedures or technology. They then pinpointed what could be improved through training and better application of procedures or policy and where technology could support improved performance.
Read Report: Building A Culture Around Big Data on AOL Government.