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Published on December 5th, 2014 | by Joshua New

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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

This week’s list of data news highlights covers November 29 – December 5 and includes articles about using facial analysis to get an edge in the stock market and improving public health campaigns through data mining.

1. Using Social Media Data to Predict the Next President

Data from Facebook and Twitter could hold the key to determining the potential of presidential candidates in the 2016 election. Analysis of exclusive datasets of chatter related to the top 10 presidential hopefuls in the past three months shows clear frontrunners in terms of public attention, with Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz together accounting for nearly half of the discussions from Facebook and Twitter.

2. Data-Driven Parenting is Here

Kidaptive, the team of developers behind the popular education game Leo’s Pad, have released a corresponding app for parents of kids ages five and younger called Learner Mosaic. The app monitors a child’s progress in the game and makes suggestions to the parent so skills learned in the game can be reinforced in the real world. Based on data from the game about progress and problem areas, the app lists tips and activities that parents can do with their kids to reinforce skills learned from the game. Kidaptive also stores this data with the hope that its platform can eventually be used to improve the quality of learning apps.

3. Predicting the Stock Market with Facial Analysis

Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology are looking to facial analysis of corporate executives to forecast trends in the stock market. Their analysis incorporates video of executives’ faces while they deliver a presentation, real-time speech-to-text conversion of the presentation, and a live feed of market data related to the company. Researchers hope analyzing changes in facial expression and tone of voice can provide valuable, real-time insights for financial traders.

4. Tracking Pittsburgh’s Pollution in Real-Time

A group of Pittsburgh residents is tackling the city’s air pollution problem with real-time data monitoring. Known as the Breathe Project, the group has installed four cameras in different neighborhoods throughout the city that allow viewers to focus on pollution sources and track location-specific air quality data. Users can easily switch between cameras and observe real-time counts of particulates in the air in each neighborhood. The Breathe Project hopes its efforts will empower Pittsburgh residents to track and fight the sources of the city’s pollution problem.

5. Building a Data Infrastructure for Science

A National Science Foundation project called SciServer aims to create a forward-looking, flexible big data environment to support and provide access to the massive amounts of data from scientific observation and experiments. Scientists across all fields are making enormous progress in their ability to create valuable data, but the costs of storing, maintaining, and accessing such large datasets can be prohibitive for using this data to its full potential. Developers of the project hope that with a common infrastructure, data access and analysis tools can be made cheaper and more accessible for all scientists.

6. Turning the Internet of the Things Into a City-Wide WiFi Hotspot

A start-up called Veniam is trying to transform all cars on city streets into a mobile WiFi network. Using short-range vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, Veniam hopes to create a network of WiFi hotspots from private vehicles and public buses alike. Veniam has piloted its free, open-to-the-public network of over 600 vehicles in Porto, Portugal, and has received funding to expand operations into U.S. cities.

7. Big Data Gives New Strategies for Public Health Departments

Chicago’s Department of Public Health has partnered with Civis Analytics, a private data mining company, to address the failure of traditional health outreach to drive positive change within certain communities. Civis’s goal is to refine outreach for the city’s breast cancer screening program by using data analytics to identify uninsured women over 40 and living in the South Side of Chicago. Based on the insights gleaned from this program, Chicago mailed important healthcare information to about 5,000 women that the city would not have otherwise known how to identify.

8. Open Data Comes to Qatar

Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology released its open data policy, promoting opening government data to the public and making the data easily accessible and usable. The policy imposes specific actions to ensure all government agencies work to make their data available online, excluding data otherwise protected for privacy or other reasons. Ministry leadership expects positive social, economic, and governance implications from its new policy, including increasing civic engagement and enhancing government transparency.

9. Aggregating Public Data for Smart Cities

To address interoperability challenges with the growing number of open, public data sets from cities, the City of Chicago has implemented a new tool called Plenario that aggregates and maps open data. Plenario is designed to act as a one-stop shop for multiple, disparate public data sets for use by city managers. Plenario also analyzes the location information of data to allow users to export all the data from a particular region on a map of the city. Plenario developers hope the tool will help public officials target policy to as specific locations as possible, instead of relying on inefficient blanket measures.

10. Fighting Food Waste with Big Data

New York-based BioHitech has developed a device that relies on data analysis to manage food waste as efficiently as possible. The device, called the Eco-Sage Digester, is billed as a “mechanical stomach” that connects to a cloud based system to create the ideal environment for breaking down food waste. By analyzing its contents and sensor data, the Eco-Safe Digester creates an optimized internal environment with the ideal amount of heat, moisture, and oxygen to break down food waste into gray water. Sensor data also provides technicians with information about digestion rates, utility usage, maintenance issues, and other inputs to avoid downtime and reduce inefficiencies.

Photo: Flickr user petrr.

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About the Author

Joshua New is a policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation. He has a background in government affairs, policy, and communication. Prior to joining the Center for Data Innovation, Joshua graduated from American University with degrees in C.L.E.G. (Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government) and Public Communication. His research focuses on methods of promoting innovative and emerging technologies as a means of improving the economy and quality of life. Follow Joshua on Twitter @Josh_A_New.



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