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Order From Chaos: How Big Data Will Change the World

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Order From Chaos: How Big Data Will Change the World

Harnessing the exponential surge in data creates big opportunities.

Thanks to Purefunds Big Data ETF (BDAT) for helping us put this together.

IBM estimates that each day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created or replicated. That’s the equivalent of a million hard drives filling up with data every hour.

The current volume of data created is substantial: it is so much that 90% of the world’s data has been created in the last two years. However, the amount of information today pales in comparison to what our future holds, as the rate at which data is created is accelerating exponentially.

It’s for this reason that The Economist estimates that there will be roughly 7x more data in 2020 than there was in 2014.

Where Does Big Data Come From?

Big data comes from both internal and external sources. Internally, millions of old documents and records are scanned and archived by businesses. Most of the time, no detailed analytics have ever been run on this information. Externally, the public web offers millions of data sets published for public consumption by government, economic, census, and other sources.

There’s also a broad spectrum of data that exists that can be a part of both of these categories: social media posts, documents, emails, business applications, machine log data, media, and sensor data can all be collected, processed, and analyzed. To get a sense of the extent of this information, here’s what is created every hour just from social media and email: 72 hours of video uploaded to Youtube, 4 million search inquiries on Google, 200 million emails sent, 2.5 million shares on Facebook, and 300,000 tweets made.

Big Data = Big Opportunities for Business

With proper analysis, Big Data can lead to new understandings of consumer behaviour, better management decisions, new innovations, and improved risk management. However, there are big challenges in making use of so much information.

  • Too much data creates an information overload.
  • Organizing and storing all of this data can be problematic.
  • Companies don’t know how to use all of this data to create insight.

To organize and make sense of it all, data scientists use the three V’s to describe Big Data.

Volume is the scale at which data is created, and includes the massive amounts of information derived from phones, internet users, machine logs, and internet of things.

Velocity is the analysis of streaming data: for example, modern cars have 100 sensors that monitor different systems in real-time.

Variety is the different forms of data, and it reflects the fact that data comes in all shapes and forms. Finding a way to harmonize multiple types of data can be quite a challenge. Research finds that organizations spend up to 80% of their time modelling and preparing data, rather than actually gaining insight.

Let’s see how companies have been able to use Big Data to create opportunity.

Case Studies of Big Data

Macy’s adjusts pricing in near-real time for 73 million items based on demand and inventory.

American Express developed predictive models that analyze historical transactions and 115 variables to forecast the loyalty of customers. Using this data, they can see if customers may be potentially closing their accounts in the near future. Launching a pilot program in Australia, the company can now identify 24% of accounts in the country that will close in the next four months.

Walmart built a new search engine for their website that includes semantic data relying on text analysis, machine learning, and even synonym mining to create better search results. Online shoppers have been more likely to complete purchases as a result by 10% to 15%, increasing revenue by billions.

Los Angeles and Santa Cruz police departments have used an algorithm that is typically used to predict earthquakes, now using it to look at crime data. The software can predict where crimes are likely to occur down to 500 square feet. In areas the software is being used, there has been a 33% reduction in burglaries and a 21% reduction in violent crimes.

Big Market

Today’s data centers occupy the land to equivalent to almost 6,000 football fields. By 2020, the amount of digital information is expected to increase exponentially to more than 7x of what it is today.

In healthcare alone, Big Data is expected to eventually save $300 billion per year in healthcare analytics. Retailers may increase margins up to 60% through Big Data analytics.

“Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combusion engine.” – Peter Sondergaard, Gartner Research.

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Maps

Mapped: The State of Facial Recognition Around the World

Mass surveillance is becoming the status quo. This map dives into the countries where facial recognition technology is in place, and how it’s used.

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Mapping The State of Facial Recognition Around the World

View the high resolution version of this infographic by clicking here.

From public CCTV cameras to biometric identification systems in airports, facial recognition technology is now common in a growing number of places around the world.

In its most benign form, facial recognition technology is a convenient way to unlock your smartphone. At the state level though, facial recognition is a key component of mass surveillance, and it already touches half the global population on a regular basis.

Today’s visualizations from SurfShark classify 194 countries and regions based on the extent of surveillance.

Facial Recognition StatusTotal Countries
In Use98
Approved, but not implemented12
Considering technology13
No evidence of use68
Banned3

Click here to explore the full research methodology.

Let’s dive into the ways facial recognition technology is used across every region.

North America, Central America, and Caribbean

In the U.S., a 2016 study showed that already half of American adults were captured in some kind of facial recognition network. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its “Biometric Exit” plan, which aims to use facial recognition technology on nearly all air travel passengers by 2023, to identify compliance with visa status.

Facial Recognition North America Map

Perhaps surprisingly, 59% of Americans are actually in favor of implementing facial recognition technology, considering it acceptable for use in law enforcement according to a Pew Research survey. Yet, some cities such as San Francisco have pushed to ban surveillance, citing a stand against its potential abuse by the government.

Facial recognition technology can potentially come in handy after a natural disaster. After Hurricane Dorian hit in late summer of 2019, the Bahamas launched a blockchain-based missing persons database “FindMeBahamas” to identify thousands of displaced people.

South America

The majority of facial recognition technology in South America is aimed at cracking down on crime. In fact, it worked in Brazil to capture Interpol’s second-most wanted criminal.

Facial Recognition South America Map

Home to over 209 million, Brazil soon plans to create a biometric database of its citizens. However, some are nervous that this could also serve as a means to prevent dissent against the current political order.

Europe

Belgium and Luxembourg are two of only three governments in the world to officially oppose the use of facial recognition technology.

Facial Recognition Europe Map

Further, 80% of Europeans are not keen on sharing facial data with authorities. Despite such negative sentiment, it’s still in use across 26 European countries to date.

The EU has been a haven for unlawful biometric experimentation and surveillance.

—European Digital Rights (EDRi)

In Russia, authorities have relied on facial recognition technology to check for breaches of quarantine rules by potential COVID-19 carriers. In Moscow alone, there are reportedly over 100,000 facial recognition enabled cameras in operation.

Middle East and Central Asia

Facial recognition technology is widespread in this region, notably for military purposes.

Facial Recognition Middle East and Central Asia Map

In Turkey, 30 domestically-developed kamikaze drones will use AI and facial recognition for border security. Similarly, Israel has a close eye on Palestinian citizens across 27 West Bank checkpoints.

In other parts of the region, police in the UAE have purchased discreet smart glasses that can be used to scan crowds, where positive matches show up on an embedded lens display. Over in Kazakhstan, facial recognition technology could replace public transportation passes entirely.

East Asia and Oceania

In the COVID-19 battle, contact tracing through biometric identification became a common tool to slow the infection rates in countries such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore. In some instances, this included the use of facial recognition technology to monitor temperatures as well as spot those without a mask.

Facial Recognition East Asia Oceania Map

That said, questions remain about whether the pandemic panopticon will stop there.

China is often cited as a notorious use case of mass surveillance, and the country has the highest ratio of CCTV cameras to citizens in the world—one for every 12 people. By 2023, China will be the single biggest player in the global facial recognition market. And it’s not just implementing the technology at home–it’s exporting too.

Africa

While the African continent currently has the lowest concentration of facial recognition technology in use, this deficit may not last for long.

Facial Recognition World Map

Several African countries, such as Kenya and Uganda, have received telecommunications and surveillance financing and infrastructure from Chinese companies—Huawei in particular. While the company claims this has enabled regional crime rates to plummet, some activists are wary of the partnership.

Whether you approach facial recognition technology from public and national security lens or from an individual liberty perspective, it’s clear that this kind of surveillance is here to stay.

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Chart of the Week

Zoom is Now Worth More Than the World’s 7 Biggest Airlines

Zoom benefits from the COVID-19 virtual transition—but other industries aren’t as lucky. The app is now more valuable than the world’s seven largest airlines.

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zoom vs major airlines valuation

Zoom Is Now Worth More Than The 7 Biggest Airlines

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have transitioned to working—and socializing—from home. If these trends become the new normal, certain companies may be in for a big payoff.

Popular video conferencing company, Zoom Communications, is a prime example of an organization benefiting from this transition. Today’s graphic, inspired by Lennart Dobravsky at Lufthansa Innovation Hub, is a dramatic look at how much Zoom’s valuation has shot up during this unusual period in history.

The Zoom Boom, in Perspective

As of May 15, 2020, Zoom’s market capitalization has skyrocketed to $48.8 billion, despite posting revenues of only $623 million over the past year.

What separates Zoom from its competition, and what’s led to the app’s massive surge in mainstream business culture?

zoom-search-interest

Industry analysts say that business users have been drawn to the app because of its easy-to-use interface and user experience, as well as the ability to support up to 100 participants at a time. The app has also blown up among educators for use in online learning, after CEO Eric Yuan took extra steps to ensure K-12 schools could use the platform for free.

Zoom meeting participants have skyrocketed in past months, going from 10 million in December 2019 to a whopping 300 million as of April 2020.

Zoom vs. Airlines stock chart

The Airline Decline

The airline industry has been on the opposite end of fortune, suffering an unprecedented plummet in demand as international restrictions have shuttered airports:

The world’s top airlines by revenue have fallen in total value by 62% since the end of January:

AirlineMarket Cap Jan 31, 2020 Market Cap May 15, 2020
Southwest Airlines$28.440B$14.04B
Delta$35.680B$12.30B
United$18.790B$5.867B
International Airlines Group$14.760B$4.111B
Lufthansa$7.460B$3.873B
American$11.490B$3.886B
Air France$4.681B$2.137B
Total Market Cap$121.301B$46.214B

Source: YCharts. All market capitalizations listed as of May 15, 2020.

With countries scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19, many airlines have cut travel capacity, laid off workers, and chopped executive pay to try and stay afloat.

If and when regular air travel will return remains a major question mark, and even patient investors such as Warren Buffett have pulled out from airline stocks.

Airline% Change in Total Returns (Jan 31-May 15, 2020)
United-72.91%
International Airlines Group-72.16%
American-65.76%
Delta-65.39%
Air France-54.34%
Southwest Airlines-56.35%
Lufthansa-48.08%

Source: YCharts, as of May 15, 2020.

The world has changed for the airlines. The future is much less clear to me about how the business will turn out.

—Warren Buffett

What Does the Future Hold?

Zoom’s recent success is a product of its circumstances, but will it last? That’s a question on the mind of many investors and pundits ahead of the company’s Q1 results to be released in June.

It hasn’t been all smooth-sailing for the company—a spate of “Zoom Bombing” incidents, where uninvited people hijacked meetings, brought the app’s security measures under scrutiny. However, the company remained resilient, swiftly providing support to combat the problem.

Meanwhile, as many parts of the world begin taking measures to restart economic activity, airlines could see a cautious return to the skies—although any such recovery will surely be a “slow, long ascent”.

Correction: Changed the graphics to reflect 300 million daily active “meeting participants” as opposed to daily active users.

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