Can big data help you to live a happier life?
The most effective business intelligence dashboard will bring together data from across the organisation, helping individuals make better informed decisions. Data often comes from a number of databases, creating a single destination for all monitoring and analytics. As well as gathering data from internal sources, many businesses also take an active interest in social media. It has also become fairly common for businesses to post on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and regularly use many social bookmarking tools to try and generate interest and raise their profile. In order to make sense of the vast quantities of data being recorded on a daily basis, organisations are turning to business intelligence.
Some people have no interest in social media, but many organisations and authorities are using the information generated by these channels to inform strategy and policy. Earlier this year the University of Vermont started a project called the Hedonometer which sets out to map happiness across the US using data from Twitter and other media such as song lyrics, newspaper articles and books. It tracks the most frequently used words and phrases, which are then assigned a positive or negative value. Based on this scoring system the project created an interactive BI dashboard showing which states and cities are the happiest. Although it is unlikely this information will result in the migration of people from one city to another, happier people are known to live longer. When buying house people often look at crime rates in the area. Moving forward the happiness score could become another contributing factor in the decision. The Hedonometer project was also able to identify which cities had more of a problem with obesity, as there were more references to words such as ‘starving’ and ‘heartburn’. In turn this could influence the city’s authorities to increase its focus on healthier living as an obese population has a direct impact on medical services.
The Future of Cities
For many years city planning officials have been using computer-aided design to build 3D visualisations to help them see the potential impact of new developments. Some are now combining this with big data to show the impact on people, rather than just the infrastructure. In Germany a model was used to show people the impact of a new railway line on a city, which could also affect people’s choice of where to live in the future. While dashboard software is normally associated with businesses, it is also being used to monitor many aspects of our lives. Social media is becoming more integrated and its influence is only going to increase, leading to even larger quantities of data. Whether the data is being used to help businesses make better informed decisions, or by authorities to inform policy, BI software will continue to play an important role by transforming data into something relevant and useful.