Protecting the public with big data
For years, researchers have been pursuing the internet of things. By quantifying various aspects of our environments, proponents hope to make life more efficient. For example, smart city projects have begun using sensors to collect information regarding everything from traffic to noise pollution in order to create solutions to everyday problems. The trend has become so popular that Pike Research recently forecasted that the smart city technology market would grow to more than $20 billion by 2020. This information has proven to be a valuable resource for city officials looking to use big data tools to enhance their communities. Public safety departments have even leveraged data analytics in order to enhance their operations.
Identifying fire hazards
The BBC reported that the London Fire Brigade has used data analytics tools to determine which buildings could be at risk for catching fire. Internal fire death figures are compiled with data gathered from sources such as census reports and historic trends. Officials can then use this information to preemptively carry out inspections and enforce fire safety codes. Officials believe these tools can enhance their department's effectiveness and ultimately save lives.
"Understanding risk allows you to target resources," department member Andy Mobbs told the news outlet. "What the analytics does is it takes that gut feeling away and it has true metrics applied to it that people can use within the business."
Allocating resources better
The Amsterdam-Amstelland fire service in the Netherlands has begun leveraging data analytics resources as well. Officials from the Dutch metropolis have used big data tools to determine which locations are at risk for specific types of emergencies. The department has consolidated its service incident reports with data from buildings, roads and waterways into a single data warehouse. That information can then be used to determine which areas are at a greater risk for different types of events, such as car crashes or chemical fires.
With that information in hand, departments can be better prepared for possible emergency scenarios in their district. In addition, officials can adjust their response time expectations accordingly. If one area has a much higher rate of critical emergencies than others, those department members would be expected to have a faster response time.
"We constantly need to ask ourselves whether our performance is justified by actual risks," Barry van't Padje, risk profile project manager for the Amsterdam-Amstelland fire service, told the news outlet. "Because of the amount of data that we have gathered and the way we are able to analy[z]e them we are able to actually answer these questions too."
As more data becomes available to researchers, they will continue to find new applications for analytics tools such as Apache Hadoop and new ways to improve lives.
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