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‘Data is not power, real power lies in the ability to manage it’

Sabah: As data becomes bigger and bigger, information alone is not enough, it is how it can be processed to solve problems at hand and enable better decision making. That was message from the session on Big Data on the second day of the Malaysia Geospatial Forum here on Wednesday. Kicking off the session, Dr Noordin Ahmed, Director General, Malaysian Space Agency (ANGKASA), stated that space sector was among the earliest ones to acquire the technologies for tackling Big Data since it dealt with huge amounts of data – not only about earth observation but also about the outer space. Managing Big Data simply means providing data services for massive space and datasets to a range of scientists and users; demonstration of the ability to explore advanced online analytics and visualisation; and in the end making it easier for others to take out useable information from that data, he said.

Stating that over 92% of data handled by oil & gas companies are in geospatial context, Jess Kozman, Southeast Asia Regional Manager, Mubadata Petroleum, Singapore, outlined how big data used by the oil & gas sector could be handled. He said his company generates over 248 terrabytes of exploration data and all that have to be accurate since a small inaccuracy could result in loss of billions of dollar owing to drilling at the wrong place. The drive to maximise the domestic energy resource capacity of Malaysia and support the global growth in export demand has led energy companies in the country to look more closely at their large volumes of geospatial data, increase the capacity in Big Data anaylitics, and find ways to present key metadata in a map view using advanced GIS tools. Applications of geospatial Big Data include analysing, determining and predicting the effect of rock types, fluid content, and pressure depths on oil and gas production from offshore fields.

"While technologies for data collection and storage are growing exponentially, the understanding of data and how it could become knowledge is still a steep curve to master. While it is debated that data is the oil for the new world economy, data-mining remains an untapped or under-utilised resource for most organisations," said Doria Tai, Principal Assistant Director, Lands and Surveys Department, Sabah, Malaysia. She also explained how Big Data is impacting the land office in Sabah in handling land records and geospatial databases and gave examples to demonstrate how with proper analytics and applications the department was able to find solutions to problems like data storage, track regular rent defaulters or even find the flood-risk areas in Sabah.

Carlos Mann Morales, Enterprise Head, Google Geospatial Enterprise, Singapore, talked about the problems of storage of Big Data. Starting off with an interesting anecdote – that google.com is a simple programme of only 35 lines – Morales said behind those 35 lines of simplicity lies the immense power of data centres and system which is the power of Big Data. Elaborating further on Google’s storage capabilities, he explained why organisations must stop looking at storing data themselves and outsource it to the cloud which is not only cheaper but convenient too. For instance, $600 is enough to store the entire world’s music on cloud. This leads to on-demand capacity upgrade and instant access.

Source: Our Correspondent