Lifting the ‘Big Data’ Veil
Lifting the ‘Big Data’ Veil
The words “Big Data” have become synonymous with promises of boundless benefits. Big Data algorithms are attributed almost mystical capabilities to improve the experience of customers or optimise treatment processes and profoundly change urban water management overall.

There are some famous examples of successful companies such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, where Big Data forms part of the fabric of the enterprise. But for most organisations, including water utilities, success in this area has been limited.

The Big Data moniker is burdened with undelivered promises. As Big Data surfs the technology hype curve, the discipline of Data Science emerges as a practical way to extract more value from data. Data Science is a multidisciplinary field that combines mathematics, computing and subject matter expertise to develop actionable insights. Value from data comes from sound, useful and aesthetic information. Data products firstly need to be reliable and useful to add value and aesthetics ensure that information is communicated in a comprehensible way.

Data analytics comes naturally to the engineering and science-focused organisations that water utilities are. Given our reliance on data and technology, the benefits promised by Big Data should be within reach for water utilities.
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