Why is data a big issue?


For most of us, the use of data remains a vague concept. After all, data is only numbers and numbers are mostly boring. So why should we care about it? Mainly because data can be beautiful as proves the impressive book and the blog of David McCandless. But data is not only glam ; it is also a revolutionary way to give more power to people, either from an educational, democratic, military, professional, social, etc. standpoint. Data truly represents a new form of information that differs from any other in the sense that data doesn't lie (even though it can be tweaked to tell lies) while it brings limitless degree of -holistic- information, when compared with other data.

To make our point, we have brought to you 10 good ideas of great datavisualization concepts, some already existing, some still to be invented, but overall full of potential.


1° provide all the reimbursed expenditures of any elected person, either at a local or national level. Reporting can be made 2 weeks after the month' closing. Time to reality: 7/10 - already existing in several countries, among which Danmark, United Kingdom, New Zeland. Our guess: Social networks have made people more demanding for what regards transparency. Surprisingly that is a space where we see governments moving fast. Elected people won't like it, but we do. 

2° report the number of laws passed, attendance, number of reports made by lower and higher Chambers ; track revenues, number of assistants, cars, drivers, name and type of lobbyists met. Time to reality: 4/10 partially achieved in numerous countries, Danmark, UK, Israel. interfaces remain largely improvable. No Iphone/Android app yet. Our guess: here as well, things may move quickly, although the bottleneck remains largely in the friendliness of the interfaces provided. In France for instance, all these informations are available, but you may prefer to have your mother-in-law for the week-end rather than crunching the info on the Assemblée Nationale website. 

3°bring all city data to inhabitants: sidewalk date/ frequency of cleaning, crime reports, deseases, location of underneath water-energy-internet networks, traffic, pollution, demographics. Time to reality: 2/10. experimental apps have been made, mostly by independent players. So far, comparable to the state of the internet in 1995 i.e. lot to be done. Our guess: it is coming but not from the Mayor House but mostly from non-profit associations, individuals, third parties, etc. Good news is that it brings pressure on the ones that should do it. 

Education / Health

4°track all personal health expenditure, benchmark to average spending, compare personal health records & benchmark it with other, improve practice by data-analysis ; get advises. Time to reality: 1/10 (public) or 4/10 (private). Nike+ has tried a few things and lots of devices/apps for Iphone have been tempted with diverse successes : no real large scale service... So sad given that the OECD countries are spending 19% of their GDP into healthcare... Our guess: personal health monitoring is taking-off fast and should bring tangible results in the years to come. But large scale services brought by Social Security are decade(s) away. 

5°Monitoring all schoolboys records, provide non-attendance ratio, benchmark with others, get advices and online remedial courses. Time to reality: 2/10. the once hype I-education has largely remained in the box... Intranet are common things in universities and sometimes colleges, but the work has stopped halfway. Our guess: services will largely differs from a country / an university to another, innovations will largely come from private companies. The 10% barrier or users of i-education dashboard among schoolars shall not be reached until 5 years in the OECD countries. 

Consumption, marketing

6° provide high efficiency dashboard for marketers: ok, we know that is CaptainDash's mission, so we won't tell you that it won't exist until years. And Yes, that is happening also thanks to us, and also thanks to the Internet that has made all key data accessible either from ERPs or from exogenous data sources... Time to reality: here it is Our guess: it is a mater of years before the marketing practice, as we know it, changes completely its processes. Bringing ROI in many areas where it has never seriously been measured shall changes lots of things. 


7° provide a holistic view on individual/family energy spending and bring advices on how to save it ; optimise the smart grid processes at the same time. Time to reality 1/10 or 7/10. Depending on whether you live in Mainland China or elsewhere, the ratio of reality differs a lot. Our guess: China is building up from scratch huge cities and can therefore integrate some brand new functioning smart-grid networks... And localizing the energy production also means actively engaging with the consumers. Highly smart interfaces is a must have and it is likely that the Chineses will be the first to indeed have it. It also touches litters, water and transportation records... 


8° improving the data on poverty dramatically improves our capability to cure it. According to Hans Rosling -the inventor of the Gapminder himself- powerty is highly correlated to the absence of data. It seems therefore logical that increasing the data availability and its distribution should logically reduce powerty. Time to reality 2/10 but quickly improving. The dissemination of mobile in the 3rd world brings a lot of fresh data in areas where there was none. One can now estimate the revenues in remote areas (by measuring the wealth of mobile bank accounts), access to sanitation (pooling people by mobile), demographic (number of subscribers), etc. In addition, Foundation such as that of Bill and Melinda Gates, makes a great deal of feed-back in addition to initial measurements. Our Guess: it is a mater of changing the planet so it will take time, and although data is important it can't change the whole thing alone. The only certain thing is that we will be more and more informed of where and why people are poor. 


9° Getting more info and react faster: These guys use a lot of data and yes, they need it quickly, in a holistic way. When they put their guts on something, they first need to know everything about it: information, networks, people, supply, weapons, civilians, workers, education, and many other things that matters. Consequently, few business are changing faster than the military one. The datawar consomption is increasing exponentially. Time to reality: 5/10 in the US, China, Singapore, etc. 3/10 in Europe, 0/10 in Libya. Our guess : we hate these stuffs and will never ever work for these guys.


10° matching people has proven to be a big business. The trick is that the more data you have on one each mate, the more relevant can be your matching engine. So far, it is mostly on what you reveal, but the Social Graph can certainly tell a lot more. Some players have already understood it... Time to reality 5/10: it is already there but it can largely be improved. Survey tends to prove that the ratio of divorce among people who met online is significantly higher that in normal life. Our guess: matching people is a business that is here to last, so datamatching is doomed  to improve. What will certainly be interesting is when one will have a personal dashboard to show to others... You don't like it? Well we thing it may be cool.