Jacqueline Coombe is a freelance writer specialising in business development, marketing, and career development content.
With technological advancements now making it possible to collect massive amounts of information, data science has become one of the fastest growing new fields. And the demand for data scientists who can mine that data for the benefit of organisations is also growing exponentially.
But data science is not just helping the corporate world make better business decisions to improve their bottom line. As this article demonstrates, it is also being used to tackle some of the most pressing problems facing the world today.
What is data science?
“As much as 90% of data in the world was created in just the past several years” Kaplan Professional
Just a few years ago, data science didn’t exist as a profession. Yes, there were data analysts, but these were only scratching the surface of data mining and it was not until we invented the tools that allow us to collect and analyse massive amounts of raw data that the term ‘data science’ was born.
So what do data scientists do? Put simply, they analyse raw data to find patterns, trends and insights that can help answer pre-determined questions. They are employed by organisations to help them make better, data-driven business decisions, as well as to protect them from risk and help them more effectively engage with their customers.
How data science is changing our lives
Data science is being employed in a range of services which we often take for granted today. These include;
- Ride sharing - data science uses a range of different data including traffic conditions, weather patterns and the nearest available driver to present customers with an accurate ETA and price.
- Online deliveries – delivery companies use data science to predict demand for products by area so they can maintain a just-in-time warehousing system. They also use data relating to weather and traffic patterns to calculate the best delivery routes.
- Video streaming – companies like Netflix use data science to analyse viewer consumption patterns and recommend future entertainment options.
- Dating apps – match-making applications use data science to analyse customers’ personal information in order to utilise appropriate algorithms.
- Finance – banks use data science to monitor credit card use including withdrawal amounts, geographic location, IP address and type of purchases and are able to deny transactions and block card use if unusual activity is detected.
- Town planning - governments and councils are using data science to make better decisions regarding resource allocation such as traffic routes, street lighting and water supply.
How data science is changing the world
As mentioned before, data science is not only being used as a business tool, but also for the benefit of mankind. The following are just some of the ways data is being mined for the greater good;
- Global warming – data science is being employed to combat climate change, with the California Air Resources Board, Plant Labs and the Environmental Defense Fund forming a Climate Data Partnership. This is a reporting platform where the data from satellites monitoring climate change from space will be combined with data from various organisations on earth to provide a more comprehensive picture of the state of the planet and help create more targeted climate control measures.
- The developing world – developing nations are using data science to compile and analyse information on problems they face such as disease, severe weather and daily living conditions. They are being assisted by tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon with the aim of ensuring they can convert the data into actionable insights. If successful, they will be able to improve things like their agricultural performance, natural disaster prediction and disease control measures and help to increase life expectancy and quality of life.
- The pandemic – health authorities around the world are using data science to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Healthcare clinics are tracking the areas where the virus is spreading and where outbreaks are occurring and passing the information on to government health officials so they can take preventative action. The hope is that the virus can eventually be contained through understanding the hotspots and how it spreads between locations.
- Visual impairment – data scientists around the world are employing data analysis techniques to address a looming blindness epidemic in developing countries. Tech giant Microsoft has shared its cloud technology and machine learning techniques with an eye institute in India. And in the US, data science is being used to help in the early identification of preventable eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.
From products and services to marketing techniques, data science is being utilised more and more in our lives. Once the preserve of forward-thinking organisations, its influence is now being felt in all areas of society and that influence is growing exponentially.
And the good news is that the influence data science has outside the corporate gates is also growing, which means we now have a good chance of solving some of the world’s most dire and pressing problems.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 jacquicoombe