By understanding our problems and simplifying the information that’s central to their rise, we can start to eliminate them. From the dark side of the human psyche to the greener grass on the other side of town, new data sources are being tapped to help us find the best routes across the landscape.

The most important dataset ever collected on the human psyche?

The most important dataset ever collected on the human psyche

We all tell the occasional porky. Probably more than we’d like to tell ourselves (ironically). We lie about the number of drinks we had, about the amount of exercise that we take, about our allegiances and our experiences… These regular expansions of the truth – attributed to a ‘social desirability bias’ – are often as much a vain attempt to lie to ourselves, as it is to others. We don’t really know our true selves. Google does though. By analysing massive search data, we can reveal the truth behind our darkest secrets… the bias, the secrets, the hate. So, could this data be the best true measure of human nature yet?  Could it be the most important dataset collected on the human psyche, giving us an unprecedented look into our darkest truths? After all, isn’t collecting rich data and understanding of the world’s problems the first step toward fixing them?

Taking data outside

Taking data outside - green spaces OS open data

Data is being used to help the UK public get healthier. A new open dataset to help communities, businesses and developers create products and services that will encourage healthier and greener lifestyles was released by Ordinance Survey this week. The new initiative – making it easier to locate and access greenspaces – saw the launch of OS Open Greenspace dataset. The data maps every publicly accessible recreational and leisure green space in Great Britain, including every public park and garden, play space, playing field, golf course, tennis court, allotment, bowling green and more (it excludes National Parks and privately owned green spaces). All the data is open and freely available to access and begin experimenting and creating with. You can instantly access the full UK map here.

Why are so many babies born at 8am?

Baby data - Why are so many babies born at 8am.

Us humans are creatures of habit. We have strict routines and schedules that we stick to. Yet there are events that disrupt our routines. Having a baby would, you’d think, be the most disruptive event of all. But even this major event is shrouded in routine. When researchers analysed the data of births across the US, distinct daily patterns materialised. What causes these spikes and dips, though? Drilling down on the data doesn’t just illuminate the details, it suggests a new way of seeing the bigger picture. For example, the most common hour of the week to be born has more than three times as many births than the least – with a big spike around 8am each weekday morning. This fascinating analysis shows how distinct patterns combine to reveal the link between when babies were born and how they were born.

The big data management revolution

Simply put, because of big data, managers can measure, and hence know, radically more about their businesses, and directly translate that knowledge into improved decision-making and performance. We’re constantly told that data-driven decisions tend to be better decisions; or that companies that figure out how to combine domain expertise with data science will pull away from their rivals. But, anecdotes and cases studies aside, are we measuring the success (or otherwise) of data-driven companies? Where’s the evidence that using big data intelligently will improve business performance?

You say courgette, I say zucchini 

US v english linguistic battleThe influence of American English has become so widespread that its reach is even felt within the UK. A new study has analysed 15 million digitised books published between 1800 and 2010, as well as over 30 million geolocated tweets to document the speed at which the English language has shifted across the world. The authors searched for differences in vocabulary (eggplant v aubergine, or liquor store v off-licence) as well as differences in spelling (estrogen v oestrogen, or travelling v traveling). The linguistic battle is real.

Mapping the data of global warming

New York City sweltering like Juarez (Mexico), London languishing in Milan-like heat, and Paris feeling more akin to Morocco. That’s what will happen to temperatures in our cities by the summer of 2100, if carbon emissions continue as usual. A new visualisation tool uses the latest global warming data to show the temperature changes in cities around the world – as well as what might happen instead if the world manages to make moderate cuts in emissions in line with the global Paris agreement. The mapping tool – created by Climate Central and the World Meteorological Organisation – plots data to great effect to hit home the consequences of inaction. Try it out for yourself below…

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Posted in Big data, Media roundup On July 14, 2017 By

Author Bio

Gordon Laing

Gordon Laing

After years spent plying a trade in journalism, I changed. But journalists never really change, do they? It’s always been about finding and sharing the best insight. And always will be.

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