Connecting the dots in big data

connecting the dots

According to the Alliance, there is much to be gained from big data, and the Netherlands can take a leading role here. According to Rinnooy Kan and his associates, a new Golden Age is dawning. Already, many companies are collecting large amounts of data. However, not enough is being done with it for the simple reason that the workforce is lacking, and we still do not know precisely how we can extract useful information from massive databases. We have many but often do not know exactly what to do with them, and some companies are still in the dark about the tools and methods to use to discover themes or common threads within their data.

This is a pity since data is the key to solving complex problems such as curing cancer or dike protection. But such meaningful and practical applications are still often missing in initiatives. The BDA wants to join forces to do something about it. Accordingtothefounders we can help each other by combining data sets. For example, data about traffic density can be combined with data about air quality in a given region to see whether cities’ policies to reduce car use are effective—Thewholeismore than the sum of its parts here.

For those of us in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry, the problem described by the Big Data Alliance is familiar. There is plenty of talk about the promise of big data in our industry and the process industries, but accurate, concrete solutions are not there yet. Many asset owners in the industry are still in the dark about a structural way to get all the raw data collected by all the plants to analyze them and use the information to optimize production and maintenance to create significant efficiency for the operation. According to research firm Bain & Company, the industry could improve production by six to eight percent of data were fully exploited.

Interestingly, many companies do not start with the basics and that, in my opinion, is the biggest problem. You only have something if your data is reliable, and in the oil and gas world, that is not always the case. Yes, much is measured: How much product goes through pipelines, which volumes are loaded for transport and delivered to the customer, the quality of these liquids, and so forth, but can the plant operators rely on the measurements? Do they have the right tools? The techniques are there to unlock information from digital pipelines. Sensors are abundant at the sites, but there is often nothing to control the diagnostic data made available in the equipment itself. And, too often, the results of measurements are unusable. I callfor a secondlook. Before analyzing all the data, more expertise is needed to measure it correctly. There can be no house without a solid foundation. And that raw data must be translated into quality data. The equipment must also be traceable to(international)standards before turning it into information and, ultimately, helpful knowledge. Finally, this knowledge in the form of intelligent IT tools must be made available to employees within the organization.

Partnerships like the Big Data Alliance may play a role here, and our industry does well to take advantage of the opportunity. Knowledge is pre-eminently the core business of teaching and research. They lead the digital specialists on what is needed in the workplace and provide the industry with scientifically-based expertise on obtaining reliable data. The realization that a solid foundation is necessary before big data can mean anything is not always present at the companies we visit. This gospel must continue to be spread. We’re connecting the dots to use the words of Rinnooy Kan. But we can only make a circle if all the beads are in place.

In my opinion, the future means that we must share more data. From the sharing of data, we all, in the end, benefit. The question is, who going to start?

Wouter Last, President of Hint According to the Alliance, there is much to be gained from big data, and the Netherlands can take a leading role here. According to Rinnooy Kan and his associates, a new Golden Age is dawning. Already, many companies are collecting large amounts of data. However, not enough is being done with it for the simple reason that the workforce is lacking, and we still do not know precisely how we can extract useful information from massive databases. We have many but often do not know exactly what to do with them, and some companies are still in the dark about the tools and methods to use to discover themes or common threads within their data.

This is a pity since data is the key to solving complex problems such as curing cancer or dike protection. But such meaningful and practical applications are still often missing in initiatives. The BDA wants to join forces to do something about it. Accordingtothefounders we can help each other by combining data sets. For example, data about traffic density can be combined with data about air quality in a given region to see whether cities’ policies to reduce car use are effective. The whole is more than the sum of its parts here.

For those of us in the oil, gas, and petrochemical industry, the problem described by the Big Data Alliance is familiar. There is plenty of talk about the promise of big data in our industry and the process industries, but accurate, concrete solutions are not there yet. Many asset owners in the industry are still in the dark about a structural way to get all the raw data collected by all the plants to analyze them and use the information to optimize production and maintenance to create greater efficiency for the operation. According to research firm Bain & Company, the industry could improve production by six to eight percent of data were fully exploited.

Interestingly, many companies do not start with the basics and that, in my opinion, is the biggest problem. You only have something if your data is reliable, and in the oil and gas world, that is not always the case. Yes, much is measured: How much product goes through pipelines, which volumes are loaded for transport and delivered to the customer, the quality of these liquids, and so forth, but can the plant operators rely on the measurements? Do they have the right tools? The techniques are there to unlock information from digital pipelines. Sensors are abundant at the sites, but there is often nothing to control the diagnostic data made available in the equipment itself. And, too often, the results of measurements are unusable. I callfor a secondlook. Before analyzing all the data, more expertise is needed to measure it correctly. There can be no house without a solid foundation. And that raw data must be translated into quality data. The equipment must also be traceable to(international)standards before turning it into information and, ultimately, helpful knowledge. Finally, this knowledge in the form of intelligent IT tools must be made available to employees within the organization.

Partnerships like the Big Data Alliance may play a role here, and our industry does well to take advantage of the opportunity. Knowledge is pre-eminently the core business of teaching and research. They lead the digital specialists on what is needed in the workplace and provide the industry with scientifically-based expertise on obtaining reliable data. The realization that a solid foundation is necessary before big data can mean anything is not always present at the companies we visit. This gospel must continue to be spread. We’re connecting the dots to use the words of Rinnooy Kan. But we can only make a circle if all the beads are in place.

In my opinion, the future means that we must share more data. From the sharing of data, we all, in the end, benefit. The question is, who going to start?

Wouter Last, President of Hint

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