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From big to smart data

Data are new raw materials for success in digital era. Big data must become smart data

Hamburg’s joint blue stand in Hall 5 at this year’s CeBIT was reminiscent of the Hamburg Cruise Center in Hafencity. IT companies such as Baqend, Cybus, Funk Gruppe, Spice VR or the Gmbh were banking on a joint business card to illustrate the growing importance of Hamburg’s digital economy. And the number of IT companies in the city has grown by 400 to around 9,560 in the last two years alone.

Keeping a competitive edge in a data-driven economy

Hamburg was well represented in other CeBIT halls as well. They range from Hamburg’s police with their MobiPol project, and Dermalog – one of the leading, global providers of tailor-made biometric solutions to HS – Hamburger Software GmbH. Thus, the city is well equipped to meet demands made by Sigmar Gabriel, Minister for Economics, at the opening of CeBIT, when he urged Europe not to hide behind Asia and America, but to remain competitive “in this data-driven economy”.

Global amounts of data double biennially

However, a data-driven economy can only succeed when all the data is evaluated intelligently. Thus, “future talk “ in Hall 6 is focusing on smart data or generating high-quality, useful information from huge amounts of data which doubles every two years. Experts are expecting data volumes of 40 zettabytes in 2020. For those not yet in the know, a zettabyte is 1 00 000 000 000 000 000 0000 bytes. Technical developments are underway to manage such volumes of data thereby paving the way from big data to smart data.

Firms lack knowledge

During CeBIT, Professor Hans Uszkoreit, Director of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), will give an address on “Smart Services, Smart Data, Smart Everything?“ The quality of decisions such as launching products and their characteristics on the right market is crucial to corporate success, he believes.

At present, most decisions are based on unreliable information and in reality, many firms know too little about themselves. “Asked what had led to sales losses, companies rarely have a comprehensive answer”, Uszkoreit noted, even though data on which to base their answers is available. Making big amounts of data available in a smart manner would give decision makers an edge. This applies in particular to medium-sized companies who often shy away from the dimensions posed by big data. Now, smart data technology will offer a solution allowing medium-sized companies to use mass data in an application-orientated manner.

Intelligent street lighting

Yet, big data relies on the generation of information. That can go hand in hand with developments towards a smart city, for instance, by transforming public amenities into data collection stations. Professor Lutz Häuser, founder and Managing Director of the Urban Software institute, a consultancy for solutions en route to smart cities, points to street lighting, saying: “It is one of the densest infrastructures in a city as there are lampposts every 80 to 100 metres.” Around 75 per cent of street lighting is outdated and should be upgraded to LED in many places. This offers an ideal opportunity for setting up intelligent facilities e.g. with the aim of managing street lighting optimally and collecting and evaluating immission data. This would improve forecasts about noise, temperature, humidity or pollution.

Many interdisciplinary pilot programmes in energy, mobility, administration and logistics are marking Hamburg’s path to a smart city. The Agency of Roads, Bridges and Water (LSBG) is planning an “intelligent lamppost” project that aims to concentrate services such as user-independent lighting control, wireless network sensors for detecting parking spaces or charging stations for electric vehicles at smart points.

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