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The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

Extracting intelligence in an era of exploding data

Data will likely only grow in size and scope and become even more foundational for all industries. Those who best harness, share, and act upon data can ultimately win in the end, whether it’s for business or government-mission success.

Extracting intelligence in an era of exploding data
[Andrey Popov/ AdobeStock]

No matter what industry sector you are in, the data deluge is fully upon us. With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), connected devices, sensors, and virtually everything we digitally touch generating data, the amount of information will only increase exponentially. In fact, it is estimated that there will be over 29 billion connected IoT devices by 2030.

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While the data overload is at times overwhelming, it also presents an opportunity for organizations to improve themselves and their output. The key is finding ways to best harness the data for extracting intelligence. While this sounds easy, in practice, it’s quite difficult, and there are a few reasons why.

A major challenge is being able to extract intelligence from data before it becomes obsolete. In today’s fast-paced digital economy, data can become irrelevant in the blink of an eye. Organizations can analyze data after the fact, but being able to leverage new information in real time is the best way to combat depreciating intelligence.

Organizations that are geographically dispersed or work daily with a variety of other organizations face a different challenge. Often, their disconnected systems produce and interpret data in conflicting formats and the information resides in various databases. However, they are still required to work together with a common goal even if they don’t share common information.

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This issue can be addressed through innovation. Solutions that receive and leverage vast amounts of data behind the scenes, no matter the data format, can be the game-changers. It will also come down to allowing connected devices and machines to interpret what’s happening and why to provide true meaning behind the data.

TURNING DATA INTO REAL INTELLIGENCE

Assistive artificial intelligence (AI) is a core part of this new frontier. It can help companies and government agencies to fully take advantage of real-time data—before the information becomes irrelevant. Assistive AI uses advanced statistics and machine learning to mine an organization’s operational data to detect patterns and anomalies that require immediate action.

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In the public safety arena, assistive AI can help police, fire, and emergency medical services to detect and respond to complex emergencies sooner. For example, it allows 911 dispatchers to see patterns and determine if public safety events are linked. Because it is assistive, it only alerts dispatchers to the anomalies, leaving the decision-making about resource deployment up to humans. When compared to only manually monitoring videos and alarms, adding this autonomous initial assessment can be much more efficient, effective, and scalable.

Having intelligence on information in real time is invaluable, but being able to share that information—regardless of format or location—with interested parties is vital.

City agencies are an excellent example, as they often have a constant flow of data from applications, equipment, devices, and sensors in the field. These can range from video streams to environmental or weather sensors to citizen engagement apps. Having a dedicated collaboration space in the cloud that allows organizations across a city to share the data they want with only the specific people they wish is a path forward.

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Being able to receive real-time insights through assistive AI and sharing that information with other constituents is one of the ultimate ways to extract and leverage intelligence from the explosion of data we are facing.

WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS

In the very near future, I believe developing collaboration spaces and assistive AI will only grow in importance and value, with automation being at the forefront. The combination of collaboration, connectivity, and data-sharing can be the driver for seamless data access.

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With the automatic push of a button, it should become easier to share and access information based on business rules, where only the appropriate parties can access this information. Additionally, I predict we will no longer be dependent on humans to review and analyze data for effective sharing.

Data will likely only grow in size and scope and become even more foundational for all industries. Those who best harness, share, and act upon data can ultimately win in the end, whether it’s for business or government-mission success.


Chief Technology Officer of Hexagon’s Safety & Infrastructure division, focused on innovative new technologies for smart and safe cities.

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