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As the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to wreck-havoc around the globe – one thing is certain. Big data is not slowing down. In-fact a report by Hadoop predicts that the big data and analytics market will increase 43% in the next six years.

While scientists and doctors push to find a Covid-19 vaccine and a cure for the disease – data analytics and statisticians are using big data to attempt to find patterns, trace those that are infected, and other helpful information in attempts to slow the progress of the virus.

Articles such as ZDNet’s “We Need a Big Data effort to find a COVID-19 cure” touted Big Data as the answer to solving the global pandemic while EE Times professes that “Big Data and Artificial Intelligence can save the Earth from Covid-19".

Other articles show how big data has already helped curb the pandemic in certain regions. Articles from Stanford Report and Al Jazeera America write about how Taiwan and China are using big data to learn about the virus and protect their people. Taiwan for instance continues to use its national health insurance database to begin tracking those with the virus. They also used Quick Response (QR) codes to scan health symptoms and travel history – quarantining those who they pose as risky to have the virus. While big data will never be the cure to the coronavirus – it can help governments, scientists, and doctors curb the pandemic.

Because big data is so helpful in the fight against pandemics as well as many other industries- it only makes sense for the data industry to grow expediently in the next decade – proving Hadoop correct. CEO at VMWare, Pat Gelsinger states, “Data is the new science. Big Data holds the answers.” Angela Ahrendts, the Senior Vice President of Retail at Apple Inc stated ““Consumer data will be the biggest differentiator in the next two to three years. Whoever unlocks the reams of data and uses it strategically will win.”

A quick glance at Linked In will pull up hundreds of data analytics and big data jobs around the world. Sorting through job listings, “big data” is linked to over 42 thousand jobs in the United States alone from marketing to product management, and engineering. “Data” is linked to close to a million job postings from companies such as Netflix, Facebook, and Apple. In fact, Thomas H. Davenport, a President’s Distinguished Professor in IT and Management predicts, “Every company has big data in its future and every company will eventually be in the data business.” And in a way that’s already true as more jobs require a potential candidate to have worked with data in their previous career whether it’s data software, or analytics. It’s not just statisticians that need to know data – it’s marketers, HR, and sales.

Will big data solve Covid-19? No. But along with doctors, scientists, and researchers it can provide much needed clues on who it effects, while it effects, and lead to potential cures and medications to relieve symptoms. And when the pandemic has run its course big data will still be around providing companies statistics they need to excel.

Last modified on Monday, 30 March 2020
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Danielle Loughnane

Danielle Loughnane earned her B.F.A. in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has currently been working in the data science field since 2015. She is the author of a comic book entitled, “The Superhighs” and wrote a blog from 2011-2015 about working in the restaurant industry called, "Sir I Think You've Had Too Much.” In her spare time she likes reading graphic novels and snuggling with her dogs.

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