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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.”