Tag Archives: data

Data Tells a Story: the Internet of farm things; understanding epilepsy; earthquake?


We at Inform believe that data tells a story across all industries, and so every week we round up the most interesting ones right here. The latest: the Internet of farm things; helping patients with epilepsy; earthquake?

Denver firm, John Deere to help farmers use data to boost yields

The agriculture industry is no stranger to technology. Since the 1990s, farmers have collected data via GPS and USB ports on farm equipment. The issue was taking the time to download and analyze that data.

Thanks to John Deere, the Internet of Things now includes tractors and other farm equipment, and thanks to a data collection firm, precious data will be available via the cloud. Farmers can use such data in a practice called precision agriculture, in which information collected by GPS and sensors can be analyzed “to find better ways to irrigate, discover new seed varieties or target areas of their acreage that need more fertilizer.”

In other words, farmers will be able to more easily use big data to help make “growing crops more efficient and productive.”

T-Mobile Mines Big Data and Continues to Progress

Using a big data approach to customer and campaign management, T-Mobile has succeeded in a 50% reduction in churn rate, that is, the annual percentage rate that customers stop service.

The telecomm industry has access to “thousands of data points across millions of customers,” but only T-Mobile has leveraged such data to achieve measurable success, staying abreast of “trends by region, customer service inquiry patterns, purchases by location and customer lifetime value.”

From the data, T-Mobile understands which customers are potential influencers, and which might not be having a “top of shelf experience,” and to be able to remedy those situations sooner rather than later.

Big Data attempts to find meaning in 40 years of UK political debate

Based on a “dataset of speeches and debates in the UK’s House of Commons in the years from 1975-2015,” researchers in Europe and the U.S. are looking to determine “trends and indicators for political cohesion.”

This is only “an initial foray,” but it’s already revealing interesting patterns, such as “the fact that both Labour and Conservative speakers have a historical tendency” to promote topics they, and no one else, are interested in, and “that topics tended to stop clustering during periods of political certainty.”

The analysis also shows the rise and fall of certain topics. For example, health care “decreased dramatically throughout the 1980s and early 1990s,” while welfare rose to take its place, and education fluctuates but otherwise remains consistent for the entirety of the 40 years of the data set.

Johns Hopkins researchers to use Apple Watch data to study epilepsy

Using an open source framework from Apple, researchers at Johns Hopkins have created an Apple Watch app “to collect data from patients with epilepsy before, during, and after their seizures.”

The purpose of collecting data such as “physiological changes, altered responsiveness, and other characteristics of recurrent seizures,” is to gain a better understanding of the neurological disorder, and “to develop new methods for (and determine the role of technology in) monitoring and managing the disorder.”

Doctors often ask patients with epilepsy to record their seizures. But because patients often lose consciousness during a seizure, this can be a challenge. The Johns Hopkins app would automatically capture that episode and other useful data as well.

The US is using Twitter to detect earthquakes

While the US Geological Survey (USGS) National Earthquake Information Center has access to about 2,000 earthquake sensors, those sensors are mostly in the US. As a result, much of the rest of the world isn’t covered. To compensate, the USGS has started using Twitter data.

Using Twitter’s public API, USGS was able to apply filters to shake out earthquake-related tweets, finding “that users tweeting about real earthquakes tend to keep their posts short — seven words or fewer,” and that “users who are actually experiencing earthquakes don’t includes links or details about magnitude in their tweets.”

USGS discovered that Twitter data can indeed be “an effective way of detecting earthquakes, typically delivering alerts in under two minutes.” A year ago they were able to use tweets to detect an earthquake in Napa, California in less than 30 seconds.

Data Tells a Story: NFL, Disney, Volkswagen


We at Inform believe that data tells a story. It can tell you what content your audience is and isn’t consuming, how long and how deeply they’re being engaged, and when they’re the most, and least, engaged. We believe data tells other stories too, across all industries, and every week we’ll be rounding up the most interesting ones right here.

This week: data and football; the ultimate Disney experience; and the numbers around Dieselgate.

How the NFL is Using Big Data

Through RFID data sensors embedded in players’ shoulder pads, some NFL teams will be collecting “detailed location data on each player” so that statistics such as player acceleration and speed can be analyzed with the ultimate goal of improving performance.

Coaches might leverage such data to make more informed decisions rather than relying “solely on instinct.” For instance, they can use numbers to learn how well certain plays worked, as well as to gauge individual players’ performance.

This data will also be available to fans for a fee. It’s hoped that “statistics-mad fans” and fantasy football aficionados will “jump at the chance to consume more data about their favorite players and teams.”

How Uber Uses Big Data to Optimize Customer Experience

With an army of more than 100,000 drivers, Uber has access to a wealth of data. While there are privacy concerns as well as the fact that Uber uses such data to determine “surge pricing,” the company is also leveraging this information to help drivers avoid accidents and is partnering with cities like Boston to help improve traffic conditions.

You can learn more about how Uber is using platforms like Spark and Hadoop to optimize customer experience.

Variable pricing may be a new theme at Disneyland

Uber isn’t the only company using data to determine variable pricing. Walt Disney Co. is leveraging user surveys and attendance data to explore matching prices with demand, a practice long-used by the hotel and airline industries.

The hope is that different pricing tiers would “spread out the attendance [and] ease frustration from regular visitors about long lines and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.”

Data shows emissions cheating cost 5 to 20 lives a year

According to a recent Associated Press statistical analysis, Volkswagen’s “pollution-control chicanery” has “killed between five and 20 people in the United States annually.” In Europe, where “more VW diesels were sold,” engineers said, the death toll “could be as high as hundreds each year,” although they “caution that it is hard to take American health and air-quality computer models and translate them to a more densely populated Europe.”

How big data helps first responders

Big data is helping police officers and firefighters “do their jobs more efficiently and more accurately.”

The FCC estimates that “more than 70 percent of 240 million annual 911 calls come from cellphones and 60 percent of those callers could not be accurately located.” An app that accesses GPS information is helping law enforcement more accurately and quickly access locations, and “even references crime history and escalation risks to help an officer better judge the most appropriate response.”

Another app provides information such as the quickest traffic routes, building floor plans, and easily accessible fire hydrants, while a communications platform allows different arms of law enforcement and rescue teams to share “radio, voice, text, video, data files and telephone communications in a secure environment.”

A “handheld library” helps first responders quickly detect and manage chemical and biological threats by providing indexed information that identifies “hazardous substances via physical characteristics” and provides “best practices for containment.”