Crisis Response: 6 Ways Big Data Can Help - InformationWeek
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9/17/2015
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Lisa Morgan
Lisa Morgan
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Crisis Response: 6 Ways Big Data Can Help

Whether naturally occurring or man-made, crises and disasters bring chaos to the people in their path. Learn how governments, nonprofits, and businesses are using big data and analytics to respond in fast, efficient ways.
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(Image: Tpsdave via Pixabay)

(Image: Tpsdave via Pixabay)

Natural disasters, economic upheavals, and illegal activities happen. Governments, law enforcement agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs), and businesses are using big data and analytics to improve their ability to respond to crises in fast, efficient ways.

Organizations are changing the ways they collect data by using parallel processing to accelerate response times, using third-party data to improve the accuracy of insights, developing new algorithms and models to solve problems more effectively, and dispatching data-gathering drones into situations that would be unsafe for humans or animals. In many cases, the reaction times are reduced by an order of magnitude or more, such as from months to weeks, days, or even hours. But there's still a lot of work to do. When disaster strikes, time is of the essence.

"Our goal is to create as many efficiencies as possible to get on cases quicker. The earlier we intervene, the more future cases we're preventing," said Jim Cole in an interview. Cole is the national program manager for the Victim Identification Program, which runs out of the Homeland Security Investigations' Cyber Crimes Center, part of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

[See what happens when technology meets forest fires. Read Using Data To Fight Wildfires: An Inside Look.]

When natural disasters occur, big data enables fast and accurate decision-making. When aberrant human behavior is the problem, big data can speed the identification of the victims and the offenders.

"If you're the head of the Environmental Protection Agency and deciding whether you're sending people into [a disaster] area, you want to have all the information available so you can make the right choice. You may be sending people into an unsafe situation," said Ernest Earon, CTO and cofounder of drone and data company PrecisionHawk, in an interview. "When the people on the ground have better information, they can do their jobs faster and safer."

Crises drive headlines, but what happens behind the scenes isn't always as well known. We'll take you through recent crises -- manmade and natural -- to reveal how organizations are attempting to minimize and manage emergency situations. Once you've reviewed these examples, tell us what you think in the comments section below. Have you been involved in a crisis management or emergency situation? Were you able to use any of the tools and techniques highlighted here? What other options have worked for you?

Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include ... View Full Bio

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pfretty494
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pfretty494,
User Rank: Moderator
9/28/2015 | 2:38:48 PM
Perspective
I love the array of uses cases. Finding business parallels could prove quite powerful as IT leaders work to build the stakeholder acceptance and support. Obvioulsy most organizations do not have the same level of issues, but I am sure most could relate these issues to stakeholder worries. For instance, recall issues.  Great post. Peter Fretty, IDG blogger working on behalf of SAS.  
HM
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HM,
User Rank: Moderator
9/21/2015 | 4:31:34 PM
Nice uses!
Lisa, great Big Data use cases! Many uses of big data have a measurable positive impact on outcomes and productivity. Areas such as record linkage, graph analytics deep learning and machine learning have demonstrated being critical to help in the operational ways you mention as well as to fight crime, reduce fraud, waste and abuse in the tax and healthcare systems, combat identity theft and fraud, and many other aspects that help society as a whole. It is worth mentioning the HPCC Systems open source offering which provides a single platform that is easy to install, manage and code. The built-in analytics libraries for Machine Learning and integration tools with Pentaho for great BI capabilities make it easy for users to analyze Big Data. The free online introductory courses allow for students, academia and other developers to quickly get started. For more info visit: hpccsystems.com

 
DanaW792
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DanaW792,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/21/2015 | 10:24:36 AM
These are important examples of Information Management but not necessarily examples of "Big Data"
We were doing these kinds of data collection, integration, store and analysis of large amounts of data long before the term "Big Data" began to be used. "Big Data" is something very specific and the term has been developed in order to describe something very specific. I couldn't find that specific "Big Data" aspect in any of these examples, although a couple of them might be "Big Data' apps. 
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