Science and Technology

Making transport big data human-sized


Data can be a laden term these days, even more so when we’re talking big data. But let’s take some of the heaviness out of the topic, and instead call it by what we need at the end of the data process — information.

The use case for data is nicely framed by American businesswoman and former CEO of Hewlett Packard, Carly Fiorina:

The goal is to turn data into information, and information into insight.

For data to make this journey, it needs a lot of help along the way. Collecting data, in these times of numerous sensors, cost-friendly computing and data storage, could be considered the easy part.

But in its raw state, big data is too big for non-data scientists to use and too big to help us make good decisions. It is in the analysis, presentation, and interpretation of data wherein lies its true value.

That’s not to say that the data is to be dumbed down, rather it is filtered, summarised and interpreted to change it from large and complex, to a succinct conclusion for use by human decision makers. Then we can use the data for real, reasoned, and successful change.

The journey of data

What is the journey of data, from BIG to human-sized? First, is the flow of its collection and the assurance of its quality. Then, the data needs to be mined and analysed, by asking complex questions and looking for patterns and possible meaning.

Next comes the integration of patterns into models, and the use of models to predict new data that we don’t currently have or that might occur in to the future. Lastly, comes the possibility to continuously improve all the preceding processes (data collection, processing, analytics etc.) through machine learning and artificial intelligence.

At this point you’ve collected the data, and by management, framing, interrogation, algorithms and machine learning, you have enabled the data to be and utilised by humans to create value and drive change.

iMOVE and data

Data is fundamentally important to our work in improving the movement of people and things in Australia. It improves our understanding of the world we live in, and it provides a fertile source of new insights and it creates possibilities for vast improvement in our management of transport and mobility systems.

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