Following on from our previous blog posts on EDF2015, this one focusses on the industry perspective of big data with some real-life examples of big data in use or planned. The innovation keynote on day two of the EDF2015 was delivered by Dr. Tanja Rueckert, Executive Vice President, IoT & Customer Innovation, SAP SE, who presented a few trends and examples from start-ups working on the internet of things. She was adamant that we need to foster innovation and attract it to Europe. Having lived one and a half years in Silicon Valley, she found it very easy to find money to invest in an idea there in contrast to in Europe. She emphasised the importance of data technologies by reminding participants that in the last two years, 90 percent of data has been generated to which she added: “we cannot imagine what will happen in the next few years”.
She explained that 40 percent of the S&P 500* would no longer exist in the next ten years unless they adapt, adding: “We constantly reinvent ourselves at SAP; we constantly need to see what are the next business models”. She gave the example of the digital camera invented which was invented by KODAK, the company that delivered the first roll film, also delivered the first digital camera and calls itself a “technology company focused on imaging”.
Comparing cultural trends between startups and large companies, Rueckert advised that there was a need to become more open to taking a risk because new products do not have large margin predictions, pointing out that 75 percent of all startups fail but that we can learn a lot from them that will ultimately drive innovation. For her, new products and services are desirable, technically feasible (low priority due to technological progress) and commercially viable. 3D printing (from digital to physical) was taken as an example as a 3D printing farm is being sponsored in New York and that this technology will potentially disrupt the data driven economy generally in the future. Furthermore, the internet of things would be one of the most fundamental aspects of the digital transformation as 80 percent of all products will be “digitised, reinvented or annihilated”.
Rueckert also gave an example of the trend to look for personalised products, picked up by Harley Davidson, which used SAP and updated their infrastructure. They now have 1700 variant and every 90 seconds a new tailored Harley Davidson motorbike is created. Other examples were TrenItalia (train maintenance) and the Port of Hamburg (optimising traffic and logistic organisations) (see slides). She ended her keynote with her magic formula for innovation: creativity + execution = innovation; and by adding that diversity fosters creativity.
Other specific cases where big data is being implemented were also presented throughout the conference and a few of them are presented here. From a medical perspective, Mohamed Boukhebouze, from CETIC Research Centre, presented some of his work on refractory epilepsy together with the University of Bergen (Norway), more specifically on patterns for early prediction of epileptic seizures. They have designed a watch that monitors seizures and can notify medical staff. However, this does not mean that he or his team can make a prediction or provide recommendations. He mentioned that prediction, prevention and personalisation were the focus of their work. He also explained that acceptance of wearable devices was an issue, as patients do not usually like to use wearable devices, meaning that there is a need for a user friendly framework to encourage them to wear them.
The very particular concept of Kiruna Citylab was presented to the audience at the EDF2015 by Carl Per Magnus Wicén, CEO, from KISEA AB. It’s a mining city situated above the arctic circle in the municipality of Kiruna in the Norrbotten County which the company is turning into a lab for companies to test and demonstrate their products and services in a real city environment. The idea is to provide a place where research can be carried out and experience gathered for new market opportunities, in a real life city, which thus also means that citizens can actively influence technology driven research. It thus aims to clarify how to evolve the new information society in a real environment for a long time and under viable democratic principles, however little was said about the inhabitants of Kiruna themselves or these processes as such.
A city in a municipality of 23 300 inhabitants in northernmost Sweden could be considered a microcosm of the modern city. A few examples of services which could be tested there was to showcase municipal inspection and control systems for city-wide infrastructure monitoring, maintenance and logistics support, as well as testing services for automatic identification of people as they go about their daily lives or a cash-free society. He spoke of a unique opportunity with citizens with a positive attitude to the project and invited experts from academia, industry and government to participate in an EU Horizon 2020 application with the purpose of building the CityLab. Kiruna is mainly associated with hunting, fishing, skiing and outdoor life as the municipality spreads over 20,000 km2. Much of the Sami culture is said to be preserved here through the active use of the North Sami language and a thriving reindeer husbandry. A trip there may be on the cards for any curious big data enthusiast.
The concept of smart cities was further developed by Rob Koper, Professor of Learning Sciences & Learning Technologies, CELSTEC, Open University of the Netherlands, who reflected on whether we can support people with smart technologies. He emphasised that the environment and transport are important areas as they directly impact people’s lives. In relation to automated cars, he questioned whether it would not be possible to use the data to educate the drivers to drive better themselves rather than simply have everything done for you. “Can we use smart services to provide direct benefit to individual persons?” he wondered.
Smart services would as such be used to support workers and citizens in learning rather than taking that crucial benefit away and thus support personal growth of the individual (e.g. software to identify learning needs for people and provide relevant suggestions on their area or online courses or even relevant people willing to help others when they encounter a problem learning a new skill).
The last case study that we have chosen to single out to the benefit of our readers, was that of London’s transport system and how Transport for London (TfL) were using big data for a better customer experience. Lauren Sager Weinstein, Head of Analytics, Transport for London revealed some compelling facts that illustrate the challenges that our modern day cities are already facing and will continue to face in light of the world’s fast-growing urbanisation.
There are 30 million journeys on road and public transport networks every day in London. The city currently has a population above 8 million, which will rise to 10 million by 2030, and is growing to the tune of nine new residents every hour (the equivalent of two buses every day). Weinstein explained that there had been a 10.6% shift to public transport, cycling and walking in London since 2000. TfL have invested in 460 travel apps powered by open data and they use big data to analyse large data sets to reveal patterns or trends and enable actions to be taken on their network as well as to provide tailored customer travel information. The big data TfL use are oyster and contactless cards, bus location data, traffic information and asset data.
*Standard & Poor’s 500, is an American stock market index based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies having common stock listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ.
You can access the programme, presentations and photographs from EDF2015 as well as see their press coverage on the conference website.
Our previous blog posts on EDF2015:
The European dimension of big data revealed at EDF2015 (9.12.2015)
European Data Forum – a recap from the BDE perspective (2.12.2015)