With the firehose of information enabled by Facebook, Twitter, location-based services, and other forms of social media, the era of Big Data is upon us. However, outside of the consumer world, the stakes are much higher: While advertisers and consumers are focused on monetizing sites that have hundreds of millions of users for a few pennies each, the ubiquity of connectivity and the growth of sensors has opened up a larger storehouse of information that will not only help businesses profit, but will also boost safety and enable environmental benefits.
For example, a Boeing jet generates 10 terabytes of information per engine every 30 minutes of flight, according to Stephen Brobst, the CTO of Teradata. So for a single six-hour, cross-country flight from New York to Los Angeles on a twin-engine Boeing 737—the plane used by many carriers on this route—the total amount of data generated would be a massive 240 terabytes of data. There are about 28,537 commercial flights in the sky in the U.S.on any given day. Using only commercial flights, a day's worth of sensor data quickly climbs into the petabyte scale—for a single day. Multiply that by weeks, months, and years, and the scale of sensor data gets massive.
Brobst, whose company sells data warehousing appliances and analytics software, points out that the Internet of Things will dwarf social media sites in its ability to generate data. The stakes and potential for monetization are huge in a world where roads have sensors and can communicate with the vehicles passing over them to determine traffic patterns, find more sustainable ways to route cars, and perhaps even generate data to be sold to insurance companies or other businesses seeking to tap transportation information.
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