What’s the big deal about big data?

It’s a ubiquitous buzzword, but “big data” is about to bring a wealth of opportunities to Switzerland thanks to investments in research. Efforts are also underway to control the risks. A common definition of big data is based on “the four Vs”: volume, velocity, variety and value. In short, big data deals with extremely large amounts of digital information that are processed very rapidly, using many different sources and formats. This definition, used by Switzerland’s Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC), helps us to understand why a project trying to figure out how to update 3D models of cities in real time – a key requirement for self-driving cars – is all about big data. An effort to develop algorithms that can compress huge amounts of digital information, while still allowing it to be analysed accurately, is a little more obvious. Both of the projects above are among the 36 research ventures announced as part of a CHF25 million ($24.9 million) Swiss …