Dark data is a term for the data you have access to, but have not acted on. Having seen an internal blog by Sam Oliver, Solution Program Manager at Tech Data, it’s clear that IoT sensors bring a vast amount of low-level data to an organisation: usually most of it is either stored or discarded (“dark data”), with maybe just a trigger point (e.g. “AC system too hot”) being the only data point being acted on.
I’ll use an example most of us know about: – a smart electricity meter, all most of them do for us is to negate the need for a meter reader to come into our house to read the meter once a year. This means the utility company do not need meter readers any more and they get regular updates on your consumption for billing purposes, so a mild win-win.
But, SO much more could be done with this data – by looking at the power consumption signatures of your fridge, freezer, cooker, kettle, etc., you can tell what appliance is consuming how much electricity and when. If I had an app that could tell me that that my fridge is costing £100/year more than it should be, maybe because it was faulty or just plain old-tech – I’d like to know that, I might even decide to buy a new, more energy efficient fridge. But, I don’t know: the data is in that meter or the utility data centre, but it is “dark”. This is where big data can help, taking all that data and create new insights, maybe in ways that it was never intended for. Buying that more efficient fridge is a win for my pocket (over a year or so), the environment and for the creaking grid system.
It seems that IoT and big data are technologies that are growing up together and I think we, as consumers, need to see some of these insights coming our way, not just being used to predict or even alter our buying behaviour, but to give us non-biased insights that allow us to make decisions for ourselves.
Organisations that allow customers access to their insights about us (not just the raw data), will gain trust. These days, trust with businesses and what they do with the data they hold on us, is in much shorter supply than it used to be.
Photo from http://www.starwars.com