Smart mapping technology the silver bullet to Big Data, says expert

02 Oct 2015

Advanced smart mapping technology – also known as Geographic Information System (GIS) technology – is the lifeline that will save progressive organisations from drowning in an abyss of information, according to a renowned global Big Data evangelist.

Mansour Raad, a leading Big Data specialist from geospatial solutions giant Esri, said GIS technology – which already underpins everything from military to urban planning activities, is the solution for organisations challenged to obtain tangible returns from their business data.

Mr Raad said the explosion of the digital age has contributed to the accumulation of vast, almost unmanageable information reservoirs, and subsequently the birth of the Big Data phenomenon.

IBM estimates that more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created each day, while 90 per cent of data currently held has been created in the last two years alone.

Compounding the challenge of managing multiple data sets – siloed within different business systems – is the fact that the greater majority of an organisation’s data is inconsistent in its format and is often hosted across a mix of platforms.

Furthermore, speculative IT investments, and lingering legacy systems have led to failing traditional data mining techniques.

“It’s almost like trying to carve your way into Fort Knox with a spoon – most likely, you’ll expend a lot of time and energy and achieve no more than to just scratch the surface,” Mr Raad said. 

He said it is here GIS technology comes in to the picture by enabling the integration and analysis of data from multiple business systems to create a dynamic and interactive map-based view of information.

“Beyond mapping and visualisation of your data, GIS technology is also about sophisticated spatial analytics that allows organisations to view data from an entirely different perspective,” Mr Raad said.

“By doing so, organisations can unearth relationships, patterns, and trends that would otherwise remain buried when the same data is presented in tables or spreadsheets.”  

For example, Singapore’s public transport network is an intricate and complex system in which buses, trains and taxis are fitted with smart sensors that collect and transmit data daily to form BIG-DATA@LTA.

“Using GIS technology, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has established a framework for analysing and managing the geographic information derived from its enterprise data warehouse called Planning for Land Transport Network (PLANET),” Mr Raad said.

It also allowed LTA’s planners to map and analyse hotspots with persistent heavy-passenger loads during peak hours and to study commuter travel patterns and behaviours.

The results from these activities are then used to engage town councils and community leaders to minimise differing views when assessing improvement measures.

In addition, the timely implementation of this technology enabled the Government to roll out a $1.1 billion bus service improvement programme, which resulted in the deployment of an additional 1,000 buses to address over-crowding and frequency of service issues.

“Data should be considered a natural resource,” Mr Raad said.

“And as a natural resource, GIS technology offers the best means to rightfully leverage it and make full benefits out of it,” he said. 


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