Thursday, October 30, 2014

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App Wrap: New App Strives To Make Data More Accessible To Consumers

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Data about consumers is collected by others every day but one movement is hoping to make that data about them as well as more accessible and useful to them. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.

Just about everything you do, whether you do it online, through your TV or on your mobile phone, generates data.

So what happens to that data? Who gets it? How can it be made more useful for you? These are all questions trying to get answered through a project and a one-day event called The Human Face of Big Data. It was conceived by Rick Smolan, a former Time Life and National Geographic photographer who wants to make data more accessible.

"We're sort of watching the planet sort of develop a nervous system," Smolan says. "The ability to collect information very inexpensively, analyze it, visualize it, then react while it's still happening is something we've never had before as a species. I think people would be kinda amazed that it's about people and not about products and selling things to each other."

Supporters of the project say more needs to be done so that more people understand exactly what data is, how it's collected and how consumers can use it rather than have it used against them.

"Especially as we carry devices in our pocket, every move we make, everything we consume has become data," says Paul Sagan, the CEO of Akamai. "So all of us need to understand that and try to leverage it to get good things out of it because otherwise, we're more likely to be taken advantage of because other people are going to look at our data too.

While consumers may feel they've already contributed enough data about themselves to the world in their lifetime, organizers at the event for The Human Face Of Big Data are actually asking them to contribute a bit more, which is why they've created their own mobile app.

"I call them data sandwiches," Smolan says. "You take normal questions and by overlaying them, you see a pattern you may have never seen before. We're doing this for two months until Nov. 20 and then we're hoping it'll be a really interesting data set that we can donate to educators and scientists to study.

The app, called The Human Face of Big Data, is out now for Android devices and due out soon for iOS devices.

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