Chapter 8Role of Collective Intelligence

By now, you may have started receiving the notification e-mails or letters from your utility company regarding your usage and how you may save if you run your laundry or dishwasher after a certain time in the evening during off-peak hours. You may also have come across an advertisement by Progressive Casualty and Insurance Company regarding Snapshot—a sensor that will capture driving patterns of a good driver—and how you may be rewarded with a good driver discount, saving a lot on your policy premium. You shouldn't be surprised to see promotional offers from your favorite retailers on specific merchandise that you care about or frequently shop for based on your buying interests. Have you ever paused and thought about how these vendors or service providers are able to analyze and communicate to you directly to suit your interests and needs? These smart meters used by utility companies, sensor devices used by insurance companies, and web logs analyzed by retailers enable them to capture data at the point of occurrence in real time, store and analyze data to help them understand the behavioral patterns, and guide them as to trends. These data are high in volume, get generated at high velocity, come in a wide variety, and are therefore rightly termed big data.

We are faced with challenges to make decisions every day; some are minor such as paying bills, and some are major such as buying a house, investing in stocks, developing a product, ...

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