How to Explain Big Data to a 12-Year-Old

March 24, 2016

“If you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”

~Albert Einstein

With this quote in mind, we challenged ourselves to come up with an explanation for Big Data that is simple enough for even a child to understand. Not only did we come up with a simple definition, but we also explain what the 5 V’s of Big Data are, sources of Big Data, and how Big Data is changing our world.

Big Data is simply a plethora of data, generated rapidly and from various sources. It can be both structured and unstructured (and is often a combination of both), and makes up data sets that are too large and complex for traditional data processing applications to handle. Big Data is also often characterized by the “4 V’s” of Big Data.

4 V’s of Big Data
  1. Volume: The size of the data
  2. Velocity: The speed of which the data is being generated
  3. Variety: The different types of data (unstructured and structured, from various sources)
  4. Veracity: The accuracy, or trustworthiness of the data
Sources of Big Data
  • Communication Outlets:  Including: podcasts, articles, videos, audio, email and blogs.
  • Social Media: All digital material (such as photos, videos, text, tweets and audio).
  • Computers & Machines: This typically includes: sensors, business process logs and phone calls.
  • Historical: Comes from archived records, forms or documents, and data about our environment (census, weather, traffic etc.).
How It’s Impacting Our World
  • Business: Data analytics are called the new competitive advantage. They give us access to insights that allow us to make better decisions, that drive efficiency and optimization.
  • Science: Big Data is allowing us to make discoveries that would otherwise be impossible by creating new ways of conducting research.
  • Security: Data analysis is the new crime stopper. It is helping police forces to predict criminal activity, and conduct investigations to catch criminals more quickly.
  • Health: Big Data analytics predict disease patterns, and help us find new cures. The use of data analytics in healthcare is a new phenomenon, so it will be interesting to see what is can help us accomplish.



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