WASHINGTON — October 20, 2015 — Software, data, and the crucial answers people are delivering from both are the focus of a new report released today by BSA | The Software Alliance. BSA's "What's the Big Deal With Data?" global report provides compelling examples of how people are improving their lives each day with data answers – ranging from helpful everyday conveniences and better urban planning, to earlier predictions of weather crises and life-saving healthcare breakthroughs.
The paper also provides a much deeper understanding of data as an innovative, transformative tool, and of dramatic improvements in data analytics that are helping people find unanticipated solutions. It also demystifies misunderstanding about how data is gathered and used most often, without encroaching on individuals' privacy.
"People's groundbreaking use of data is causing extraordinary change and progress across the globe. Their data-related efforts are empowering other people and communities, and helping businesses use resources more effectively," said BSA President and CEO Victoria Espinel. "As the data-driven economy grows, new software will continue to help us all better understand and transform this data into even more real, actionable solutions."
BSA's report highlights how the emerging data-driven economy is impacting numerous sectors – such as manufacturing, transportation, energy, agriculture, education and healthcare. In the process, $15 trillion is expected to be added to the global GDP by 2030, representing a significant boost to the global economy, Espinel noted.
More data is being created today than ever before. More than 90 percent of the world's data has been created in just the past two years, and the world is now doubling the rate that data is produced every two years.
"The biggest challenge now is knowing how to harness this data and put it to work," Espinel said. "Data must be best gathered, stored, analyzed, and translated to achieve meaningful results, and decision makers around the world must understand the importance of policies that best enable this to happen."
Espinel noted the sizable opportunity lawmakers and regulators have to establish clear rules that promote the free flow of data across borders, and invest in the much-needed IT workforce in order to open marketplaces and allow companies to innovate.
From the What's the Big Deal With Data? report, several of the ways answers from data and software are being transformed into life-improving answers:
- Earlier predictions of weather crises: By using data analytics and marine sensors that monitor waves, currents, and other data, researchers are effectively using data analytics to better predict tsunamis and other natural disasters, ushering in the potential to save thousands of people living in coastal areas that are threatened by tsunamis.
- Saving more "preemies": By tracking more than 1,000 data points a second, researchers shocked doctors by showing that prematurely born infants with unusually stable vital signs correlated with serious fevers the next day – enabling doctors to take preventive action and save lives.
- Reducing Commute Times: Stockholm, Sweden installed 1,600 GPS systems in taxi cabs to collect data on traffic flows, then used software to analyze traffic data to inform the city's plans to reduce congestion. The result? Traffic has been reduced by 20 percent, travel times have been cut in half, and auto emissions are down 10 percent.
- Increasing farming yields: Farmers from Iowa to India are using data from seeds, satellites, sensors, and tractors to make better decisions about what to grow, when to plant, how to track food freshness from farm to fork, and how to adapt to changing climates.
- Designing energy-efficient buildings: In the United Arab Emirates, new data tools are being used to design the world's first positive-energy building, a building that actually produces more energy than it consumes. If successful, this model could be implemented worldwide and have a dramatic effect on our global carbon footprint.
- Improving aviation: Data is being used to improve flight performance, cut turbulence, improve safety, and identify engine defects 2,000 times faster than before. Aviation data is also helping improve flight path planning, and letting crews know that a part needs replacing before it fails.
- Building smart cities: Barcelona is harnessing data to build a smarter city, giving city officials the ability to examine traffic patterns, analyze where to put public bike stations, and identify which corners of the city need more ATMs.
"The wide range of problems that data is solving shows how much impact the data revolution already is having on the world economy," Espinel said. "Of course there are significant issues, such as user privacy, that need to be thoughtfully addressed. But with boundless information, the possibilities are limitless for everything from classrooms and hospitals to highways and robotics. Effectively gathering, storing, analyzing and transforming invaluable data will let people continue to improve their lives, and grow our innovation economy as a whole."
To read more data breakthroughs and view a video summary of the What's the Big Deal With Data? paper from BSA | The Software Alliance, visit www.bsa.org/data.