“Most of us need to listen to the music to understand how beautiful it is. But often that’s how we present statistics: we just show the notes, we don’t play the music.”Hans Rosling
We are all being buried in data. There is so much data that it is impossible to make sense of it all. Data without any contextual meaning is just noise and a meaningless distraction. Most collected data is absolutely wasted and never realized, let alone monetized.
In order to make sense of Big Data, we need to visualize it in some manner. Data must tell a story. It needs take us all along on an adventure to explain the world that surrounds us. The best data scientist are actually prolific storytellers. They unravel the universe for us and allow us to appreciate the smallest granularity or the most expansive vastness of the world.
There are many ways to visualize data. Historically, we have used charts and graphs to contextualize data. Modern tools exist to shape data into a form that holds far greater meaning to the users compared to dull, boring, flat spreadsheet and endless databases littered with columns and rows.
One of my personal favourite data visualization methods is called Geocoding.
Geocoding is the process of taking a text-based description of a location, such as an address or the name of a place, and returning geographic coordinates, frequently latitude / longitude pairs, to identify a location on the earth’s surface. Now, the data is woven into a map. We all love maps. They give heed to the days of scary exploration and marvelous adventures to uncover our physical world. In a similar fashion, instead of sailing to far off destinations, we are now venturing into patterns, trends, and deciphering complicated statistical puzzles hidden within data. We twist and turn the data, wheeling it into divergent perspectives, to examine it from all angles until we vector into the nuggets of gold concealed deep inside it.
Our world is now driven by data. Our lives are consumed by it and even our personas are codified and digitized to be shipped globally in the blink of an eye. Data can disrupt the irrefutable. It is turning our world upside down. So, it is in all of our best interests to know data intimately and embrace it fully.
About the Author:
Michael Martin is the Vice President of Technology with Metercor Inc., a Smart Meter, IoT, and Smart City systems integrator based in Canada. He has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies. He is a business and technology consultant. He was senior executive consultant for 15 years with IBM, where he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX). Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V). He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology. He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section. He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 20 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.