Before we embrace a new year, I want to share my personal picks for the best data success stories from 2013:
Feds Stop $47 Billion in Fraud, Overpayment. We often think in terms of technology solutions. For example, we ask “How much can master data management save this company?” or “Will Big Data projects pay off?” Sometimes, you can define savings by the project, but often the best results come when you combine multiple data technologies. Together, they add up to better information management and analysis.
A Fed Tech Magazine feature article explained how three different organizations used data to stop $47 billion in overpayments to dead people, debarred contractors, prisoners and others who had collected unearned federal money. The savings didn’t happen because of just one technology, but rather because the agencies used multiple types of data and solutions, from GIS data to master data management and Big Data, to fight fraud.
Fighting Human Trafficking. In another blog, I shared stories about the use of technology to stop human trafficking, an issue that has worried me since I first learned how the Web is used to exploit children and vulnerable adults. Nextgov covered two specific use cases that focused on analysis of photos and online ads featuring exploited children. I give kudos to the non-profit Thorn, IBM, MIT and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland for their pioneering work in stopping such trafficking.
Big Data for Better Weather Forecasts. In recent years, the biggest news stories haven’t been about technology, financial markets or even wars. Many of the biggest stories have been weather events that caused widespread devastation, lead to deaths and created economic ripples worldwide (thank you, global supply chains!).
While you may not think of better prediction of weather patterns as a pressing business problem, it is. Ask your risk management team.
So, Big Data’s use in meteorology was an obvious choice as one of my favorite Big Data use cases in this year.
Big Data for Bigfoot Fans. Just because you might not believe in Bigfoot doesn’t mean you aren’t wildly amused by the hunt for this famous cryptid. I, for instance, am a hopeless Finding Bigfoot addict for absolutely no good reason other than I can’t wait to see how long cast skeptic Ranae Holland can go without losing her temper.
Plus, for me, Bigfoot encounter “re-enactments” provide just about all the scare I can stand, because I am a huge fraidy cat.
That’s why Penn State Ph.D. candidate Josh Stevens’ analysis of 92 years of Bigfoot sightings in the U.S. and Canada makes this list. It is certainly not life-changing, business-innovative material, but it is by far the most amusing data-use story I wrote about in 2013.
Maybe in 2014, data from the Internet of Things will help us actually figure out what these eyewitnesses are seeing.