US government hopes to predict future events with big data
The U.S. government is hoping to leverage the power of big data analytics to determine future events that could impact society. Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence is backing research projects at 14 universities throughout the United States, Europe and Israel to study large quantities of information for this purpose.
The news source reported that the U.S. government is currently flooded with information, ranging from billions of tweets from Twitter, Facebook posts, Google searches and other information from online data.
“Our focus is to beat the news with greater accuracy and to do it faster by combining [various sets of] data, and we are seeing that it is possible,” said Open Source Indicators Program Manager Jason Matheny, according to Bloomberg.
Although the government would like to gather as much data as possible to determine major future events, this will not come overnight. Thomas Malone, director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, stated that the future still has many unknowns that will made predictions difficult to achieve, Bloomberg reported.
Big data has value, but must be secured
The U.S. government may be swimming in data and moving to implement more analytics to study this information, but big data must also be protected at all times. Computerworld’s Dave Bellai explained that data analysts, developers and scientists will be crucial moving forward to keep government agencies and commercial firms safe from potential threats.
“We’ve all seen bad behavior in system intrusion and the effect of that activity, and the problem is unfortunately only growing,” Bellai wrote. “This suggests that information and system security professionals will continue to be in demand for many years to come.”
A security breach could be one of the worst results that could happen with big data found in government systems. Given the sensitivity of some of this information, an attack or exposure of such information could have dire consequences on agencies.
Looking ahead to the completion of the research project, Matheny noted that the government realizes the uncertainty when trying to predict future events, but the initiative hopes to help the country gain more certainty, Bloomberg reported. The news source added that the study may also help agencies understand what cannot be analyzed in the long run.