You may have heard the term ‘big data’ before. But what is big data, and how is being used in Australia? Big data is any large collection of data, otherwise known as a data set. However, just having access to big data isn’t enough. You need to know how to read and analyse it in order to uncover patterns and gain valuable insights into a particular area. In this way, data analytics works by helping solve problems and answer questions for businesses and organisations, resulting in a more informed decision-making process.

How is big data used?

When you think of big data and data analytics, your first thoughts may be around targeted ads – and you wouldn’t be wrong. Big data can be used by businesses to give their existing customers a more personalised shopping experience and to attract new customers. However, outside of retail, big data has many benefits in the education, transportation and healthcare industries, just to name a few.

Examples of big data in the real world

Here are a few examples of big data uses you might already be familiar with:

  • Transport – Every time you use your GPS to help you find the best route to a destination, that’s an example of big data and data analytics at work. By collecting and analysing large amounts of data, apps like Google Maps are able to make informed, logical decisions to determine the optimal route by avoiding congestion.
  • Health – If you have a smartwatch or use a fitness tracking app on your phone, then you’ve probably had first-hand experience with how big data technology can help improve your fitness and wellbeing. By collecting data around your diet, fitness activities, sleeping habits and more, these health apps can use data gathered from other users to give you an idea of your own personal health. This can help to give you an accurate idea of your health and wellbeing, while also helping you pinpoint areas that may need improvement.
    More than that, by gathering large amounts of data from a population, big data can also be used to spot early warning signs of preventable diseases.
  • Weather – While we’ve all become used to having real-time weather updates available at our fingertips, data analytics can also be used to predict natural disasters. By collecting and analysing data around extreme weather events, it’s possible to predict when dangerous weather will occur and provide people with early warnings.
    There is also CSIRO’s bushfire prediction tool, Spark, which is being used in Australia right now. Spark gathers a range of data from Landsat satellites, which is combined with data provided by fire authorities. The collected data, once analysed, empowers authorities and organisations to make more informed decisions when it comes to land management, infrastructure, evacuation route planning, suppression strategies and more.
  • Education Big data technology can be used to help improve education outcomes for students and reduce dropout rates. By monitoring learning trends and outcomes, it’s possible to determine which students need more focused help, and which students can be provided additional learning materials to help them advance further.

How 5G can provide a boost to big data technology

The capabilities of 5G include faster speeds, low-latency response times and an increase in network capacity. 5G can give data analytics a massive boost by allowing for more data to be collected by more connected devices and analysed in a shorter amount of time.

Autonomous vehicles require low-latency, high-speed connectivity in order to support functions for reliability and safety. This is because they need to transfer and process huge amounts of data in real-time in order to support those reliability and safety functions. While we still have a way to go before driverless cars are a common feature on Australian roads, 5G could be used to provide non-critical large data functions for autonomous vehicles.

By 2025, it’s predicted that there will be more than 600,000 autonomous vehicles on public roads around the world.

Why big data is important in Australia

But while everyone seems to be talking about the future of autonomous smart cars right now, there are other exciting uses for 5G in Australia that are happening right now – especially when it comes to agriculture and the environment.

55% of Australia’s land is dedicated to farming, so it makes sense to begin investing in smart, sustainable practices that will keep it thriving as Australia’s population continues to grow. One way that analytics in big data can help livestock farmers is by monitoring and accruing data related to an animal’s health and habits. Armed with this information, farmers can make better, more informed decisions about their livestock which can lead to improved animal care.

Another issue that affects all Australians is water usage. Recently, TPG Telecom won a contract to manage up to one million industrial-level Internet of Things (IoT) device for Yarra Valley Water.

This is the entire basis of data analytics – being able to accurately and efficiently monitor patterns and trends in large data sets that can lead to smarter decision making, whether that’s at an individual level or for an entire organisation. Powered by 5G, the future potential of data analytics is incredibly exciting.

Vodafone 5G is now rolling out in selected areas of major Australian cities. For more information about 5G, head to our support page.

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Chloe Baird


Chloe Baird,

With a background in tech and travel, Chloe is an experienced copywriter who is passionate about creating engaging and dynamic content that will teach her audience something new.