So, what’s the big deal about data anyway?

Big data and data science - young girl holds a representation of 'data' in her hands

By the year 2020, it’s estimated there will be 24 billion smart devices used around the world, producing 1.7 megabytes of data – per person, per second.

Today, in just one minute the world will produce 3.8 million Google searches, 3.3 million Facebook posts, 65,972 Instagram posts and 500 hours of YouTube videos.

That’s a whole lot of data… so what do we do with it?

In India, police located 3000 missing children within four days thanks to a new facial recognition system that collected and analysed 45,000 images of faces.

Harvard University in Massachusetts, USA, is developing artificial intelligence that can detect deadly earthquakes and aftershocks with 17 times more reliability than the standard seismograph.

And scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the University of Edinburgh are using big data to predict tumour growth in cancer patients by recognising patterns in their genetic code.

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Data isn’t just produced by social media or on your smartphone. It’s everywhere, and it has the potential to revolutionise every industry. The only thing lacking is the actual data scientists to pull it off.

A report from PwC predicts that by the year 2020, 2.7 million new analytics, big data and data science jobs will be created. However, it’s estimated that 40% to 60% of current big data and data science jobs aren’t even being filled.

Today’s data scientists are reaping the rewards of the shortfall, with graduates able to expect starting salaries of $61,000+. And it only gets better!

More experienced data scientists are taking home salaries up to $135,000 per year. Data analysts can pocket up to $98,000 per year, and data engineers are earning up to $125,000.

Feeling creative?

If you’re not fazed by the mind-boggling statistics in this article, then big data and data science might just be the career for you. So what, beyond maths and code, do you need to brush up on to be a successful data scientist? Creative thinking and communication skills are vital for sifting through masses of data to discover meaningful patterns, and communicate their significance effectively.

You could be working in business to analyse market trends and develop the next hot tech craze. Using satellite imagery to identify and combat the most harmful industry emissions contributing to climate change. Or even analysing the gameplay of millions of app users to identify early warning signs of dementia.

Whatever avenue you choose, get ready to make a big difference with big data.

Eliza Brockwell

Author: Eliza Brockwell

Eliza is the Digital Producer for Careers with STEM. Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.

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