Cisco Canada Blog

Big and Bigger Data in our Communities

April 23, 2012

The facts on the usage and growth of social media continues to amaze me. The latest I heard was that almost 900 million people have registered accounts on Facebook (launched in 2004) and that more than 30 billion pieces of content are shared on the social network site each month. Twitter (2006) sees its membership grow by more than 1 million every day, and there are already half a billion people using the site — generating nearly 200 million tweets and more than 8 Terabytes of data every day (and consider that each tweet is only up to 140 characters). One hour of video is uploaded to YouTube (2005) each second. And when I write this, I am sure these facts already are obsolete. That’s Big Data, right there.

These are just a few great examples of how the consumer is driving a tremendous transformation of the Internet and the networked world we live in (the consumerization of the Internet). And you can add in two more Internet evolutions: its industrialization and the birth of “the Internet of Things.” It’s not just people anymore that instigate the tremendous traffic and transactions on the Internet. The IP-enablement of systems and devices have extended the nodes in our networked world. More “Things” use the infrastructure to communicate — in addition to phones, tablets and computers, we see sensors, meters, power stations, street lights, buses and cars, home automation, media, gaming, signage, health systems and many more devices in manufacturing, retail, security (and so forth) all become part of the fabric that makes the foundation of our smart and connected world.

In the next three years, more than 15 billion devices will communicate over networks and the Internet — and some ICT executives predict the number will exceed 50 billion by 2020. The subsequent data volume, according to McKinsey Global Institute, is expected to grow 40% annually and will increase 44 times between now and 2020; surpassing 1 Zettabyte in U.S. Internet traffic annually by 2015 (50 times that of 2007, and roughly equivalent to 50 million Libraries of Congress).

Like cars on roads and water through pipes, all this data has to flow uninterrupted and securely through a resilient infrastructure. The need for IP networks (and broadband) is exponentially growing and our latest generation of workers expect full (and affordable) access to it. The enabled communication between people and people, people and machines and machines and machines already is providing unprecedented ways for increased productivity and value creation. Now, let’s take it further: add to all this data and constant flow of transactions the notion of intelligence and analytics. Let’s leverage the power of smarts to even further drive value back into the community, to its users, and every device and process that is reliant on it. Big Data will become rapidly Bigger as intelligence is added to it through advanced analytics and computing.

Companies in the telecom industry work frantically around the world to keep up with the rapidly growing demand. Faster hardware needs to replace the still-young-yet-already-outdated infrastructure in our existing communities. It’ll be a refresh cycle that may never finish nor slow down. This is where new communities can substantially benefit.

New communities (like Rampart Avenir Communities in Alberta) have the opportunity to lay the foundation for an infrastructure that could bring 1 Gb or even 10 Gb to the edge of the Internet fabric (in our homes, to our modes of transportation, and simply to every connected device). Sure, today this seems excessive, but the capital cost to do it right upfront will dwarf to the cost to upgrade later (as in a few years from now). With everything connected from inception; speaking native IP languages; where oversight and management is provided by integrated operation centers; where compute power is everywhere (cloud and fog computing); and where open access is available to everyone that wants to and can benefit from it—we truly can set the new standard as to how we can further enhance and transform environmental, economic, and social sustainability in an increasingly competitive and flatter world.

The opportunities are endless. Interesting stuff. Let’s talk more about this at the “Analytics, Big Data, and the Cloud” conference in Edmonton this week, where I’ll be delivering a keynote on April 25th on value creation in connected communities. It’s not too late to register.

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