'The Human Face of Big Data' launched

Tech September 20, 2012 00:00

By The Nation

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"The Human Face of Big Data," or a project sponsored by EMC to collect data about life and humans around the world with support and input from several platforms has been launched.

The project includes using elephant seals equipped with antennas on their heads to map the oceans and using satellites to target mosquitoes, EMC and the project creator, Rick Smolan, said. Smolan is the famed creator of the “Day in the Life” series.

The Human Face of Big Data is based on the premise that the real-time visualisation of data collected by satellites, and by billions of sensors, RFID tags, and GPS-enabled cameras and smart phones around the world.
The project is aimed at enabling humanity to sense, measure, understand and affect aspects of our existence in ways our ancestors could never have imagined in their wildest dreams.
The multifaceted project started on September 25 with an eight-day “Measure Our World” event inviting people around the world to share and compare their lives in real time through an innovative smart phone app. The project also includes “Mission Control” events in New York, Singapore and London; “Data Detectives,” a global student initiative being conducted in conjunction with the TED organization; a stunning large-format book featuring more than 200 photographs, essays from noted writers and infographics; an iPad app; and a documentary.
“My goal with this project is to spark a global conversation about Big Data, about its potential if used wisely and the danger if we aren’t very careful. Big Data represents an extraordinary knowledge revolution that’s sweeping, almost invisibly, through business, academia, government, health care and everyday life. And, like all new tools, it carries the potential for unintended consequences. But if we are careful and wise, in the not too distant future this new set of technologies may have an impact on humanity as great as those of language and art,” Smolan said.
Jeremy Burton, executive vice president, Product Operations and Marketing, EMC, said: “Big Data began in computer labs with a handful of elite scientists. Soon, everyone from grade school students to grandmothers, and all points in between, will awake to the transformational impact that Big Data will have on the way we all live, govern, work and play. The Human Face of Big Data is the most engaging and captivating attempt we’ve ever seen to truly tap into, and put a human face on, the societal impact of Big Data. I’m confident that this project will have a lasting and meaningful impact.”
The Human Face of Big Data project elements include the following: 
A Visual Record of Big Data in Action
In March 2012, Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt dispatched more than 100 photographers, editors and writers in every corner of the globe to explore the world of Big Data and to determine if it truly does, as many in the field claim, represent a never before seen toolset for humanity, helping us address the biggest challenges facing our species.
Smartphone App
From September 25 through October 2, people around the world will be invited to “measure our world” via The Human Face of Big Data app (free and available on iOS and Android in five languages). The app will engage people in a series of activities using the sensors in their phones, as well as enable them to compare their responses to thought-provoking questions with others around the globe. Participants will be able to map their daily path, share objects and rituals that bring them luck, get a glimpse into the one special thing that others want to experience during their lifetime and discover hidden secrets about their world. Participants will also be able to find their “data doppelganger.”
The “Mission Control” Experience
On October 2, representatives of media organizations will be invited to Mission Control events in New York City, London and Singapore, where data collected from participants will be analyzed, visualized and interpreted. Experts and innovators in the Big Data arena will share examples of their work in an interactive “Big Data Lab.” A live webcast will allow people around the world to watch the events as the day unfolds.
“Big Data Detectives,” in Association with TEDYouth, Will Engage Students 
On November 8, students around the world in grades 6–12 and their teachers will engage in a series of data-collection activities to measure, analyze and map their worlds through the Data Detectives initiative. These activities will connect thousands of students and allow them to compare their opinions, thoughts, concerns and beliefs through exciting data visualizations and graphics. 
The Human Face of Big Data Large-Format Illustrated Book 
On November 20, The Human Face of Big Data book will be unveiled and will be delivered on the same day to 10,000 of the world’s most influential people, including world leaders, Fortune 500 CEOs, and Nobel laureates across 30 countries. The book will feature a fascinating array of more than 200 photographs, compelling essays from noted writers and dramatic infographics from renowned designer Nigel Holmes. The book will also be available for sale online and through major booksellers. 
In 2013, The Human Face of Big Data documentary will be released.