10 Bits: The Data News Hot List
This week’s list of data news highlights covers October 11-17 and includes articles about data startups born out of the commercial space race and preventing prescription drug abuse with big data.
Due to it’s business-friendly rules, Dublin has become the European headquarters for tech giants like Google, Intel, Amazon, and Facebook. With a $5 billion investment from Intel, Dublin will soon be transformed into the largest networked city, with up to a dozen low-power sensors per square kilometer. While the investment is focusing primarily on gathering environmental data, the network being developed is designed to accommodate a range of Internet of Things applications in the future. The city council is encouraging residents to participate in developing the system, allowing students and local businesses to test out applications using the sensors.
With billions of dollars flowing into the developing commercial space industry, the increase in data generated from new satellites and rockets presents an exciting opportunity for data startups. In 2013, an estimated 93 micro satellites were launches globally, with that number expected to increase by up to 2,750 satellites in 2020. While companies like SpaceX and Virgin Galactic may be doing the heavy lifting, smaller startups that can apply this influx of data to other industries like agriculture and commodities trading stand to benefit in this emerging field.
Philips, partnered with Netherland’s Radboud University Medical Center and Salesforce.com, is developing a wearable device for people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that sends data to a cloud platform certified to store medical information. Unlike many wearables today, the COPD device would generate data usable by doctors and nurses while the wearer goes about their daily life, as Philips intends for the device to be certified by regulatory bodies like the FDA.
Two of America’s biggest retail banks are recording customer calls to analyze the biometric details of their voices. The technology, known as voiceprinting, is helping banks fight fraudulent callers trying to gain access to customer banking information. When someone calls a bank their voiceprint is analyzed against the bank’s caller database to determine if the caller is actually who they say they are. If their voiceprints don’t add up, the bank can determine if the caller is a fraudster and add them to their voice biometric blacklist, blocking them from illegally obtaining banking information.
The UK is building a Child Abuse Image Database (CAID) to help with police investigations into child abuse. The database is being developed to monitor and analyze the “huge growth” of images of child abuse circulating on the internet and help track down victims. CAID is part of a larger international effort called Project Vic, which aims to classify images held by police forces around the world and ensure information is shared between these agencies. CAID is expected to be operational by the end of 2014.
Prescribers in New Hampshire can now access prescription data for their patients through this database, enabling them to detect when patients might be trying to obtain drugs from multiple providers. New Hampshire is now the 49th state to develop such a program, which is designed to help healthcare providers fight substance abuse problems in the state. With this announcement, Missouri remains the only state yet to adopt such a monitoring program.
Thanks to the efforts of the nonprofit Global Communities, the 3,440 streets in Sekondi-Takoradi, a city in Ghana the size of Atlanta, finally have names. The critical mapping effort was made possible through Google Map Maker, which allows aerial photographs and street-level observations to be converted into maps. This important development makes things like emergency services, public utilities, and even online shopping possible for residents of the city. Global Communities expects this process could be easily applied to other cities in the developing world.
Google announced that it users of Google Sheets, the company’s spreadsheet application, can now apply its Prediction API to autofill blank cells. While autofilling basic information like day of the week has been standard in spreadsheet applications for years, Google’s new machine learning program can now “guess” more complicated information to enter into empty cells. The application provides users with an error rate to let users determine the accuracy of Google’s predictions.
Healthcare providers say they plan to spend billions on big data, cloud computing, mobile health, and social media in 2015, but 96 percent of healthcare organizations report that their IT infrastructure is not ready. According a report released by MeriTalk, an organization focused on improving government IT, if healthcare providers can build out their infrastructure in these four areas they can anticipate multi-billion dollar savings by 2016.
SAM, a series of tiny sensors and actuators that can link hardware and software to the Internet, allows people to learn about the Internet of Things without circuit design or coding experience. Apps for SAM are built with a drag-and-drop interface to ease the learning curve for adults and children interested in a tech education. The project’s Kickstarter has exceeded funding goals and developers expect to be able to deliver a product in March 2015.