HAVING information gives us access to data from which we can make certain predictions. For example, it is mid-December and we recognise the season of Advent in the Christian Church year. We know that Christmas is coming, school holidays have begun, and there will be more shoppers and pedestrians in our shopping areas.
Effective monitoring and recording systems are needed to capture the details needed for making predictions. Knowing what is actually happening, or having some insight into what affects the current happenings, can be harnessed to help make predictions. The fortunate people who already have data to analyse may also have the statistics available to discern trends caused by seasonal occurrences. For example, the data collected by supermarkets easily allows tracking of shopping habits.
In cold climates, the winter season brings an increased incidence of injury caused by slips and trips, and perhaps the spread of the flu bug. There is even an impact on hospital admissions and waiting times caused by the cold weather. In our tropical climate, we know that heavy rains may cause landslides and flooding. Our response should be to maintain stable slopes, to clear blocked drains and rivers, and to better manage garbage. We should also be collecting, tracking and sharing the data arising from such incidents to help cope with the next incident.
If you are not fortunate enough to have the data, there is still hope for those with just a gut feeling. The combined power of statistics, data modelling, and ICT is available to help tabulate the overall impact, and also to discover “hidden Markov models” that may reveal the presence and probability of previously unrecognised events. Interestingly, speech recognition technology uses a similar method to detect spoken words.
This means that even without historical data, the police may develop a pattern of criminal behaviour, and then deploy patrols for those driving under the influence, or disobeying the speed limit. The same applies for detecting the location and type of seasonal criminal activity. Pro-active intervention in the predicted areas should be prioritised to arrest the scourge of crime at all times.
Within your work area, if you collect data but do not analyse that data for trends, you are likely wasting precious resources. If you currently have a problem, then you should already be performing data analysis to help resolve your problems.
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About the Author
Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant based in Saint Lucia. His expertise includes systems analysis, design, and business intelligence.