Big Data has emerged as the currency of the 21st Century, and in the process has become synonymous with our daily lives. Recent studies have estimated more than 5 billion people are calling, texting, tweeting and browsing on mobile phones worldwide. With this proliferation of connectedness, data production will be 44 times greater in 2020 than it was in 2009.
This is good news for organizations and individuals alike, enabling companies to make better-informed business decisions and allowing consumers to get the most value from products and services.
But the data itself represents only a portion of Big Data’s true value.
Technology consultant Phil Simon recently spoke to this phenomenon, explaining that Big Data is a “powerful discovery tool for companies seeking to glean new insights, but without the right framework for understanding it, much of that knowledge may go unrecognized.” Or in simpler terms, the sheer influx of information in recent years has made it increasingly difficult for users to gain value from complex data without spending time piecing together the significant points on their own.
This means there is another part of the equation needed to fully harness the power of data – and often it’s the visualization of data that allows Big Data to unleash its true impact.
When visualizing data, users are empowered to see patterns and connections with numbers that would otherwise be scattered across multiple data sets and sources. As a result, the data is freed from the confines of spreadsheets and tables allowing users to easily draw meaningful conclusions.
The impact of data visualization cannot be understated, but interactive data visualization goes a step further – moving beyond the display of static graphics to using computers and mobile devices to drill down into charts and graphs for more details, and interactively changing what data users see and how it is processed.
Using these key points as guidance, Saxum recently partnered with the American Petroleum Institute (API) to develop a custom-built interactive data visualization tool to enable policy makers, media and key energy stakeholders to easily sort through vast amounts of data that explores the potential future of the U.S. energy system through 2040. The data was compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in its Annual Energy Outlook (AEO) reports for 2014 and 2015. The goal of the project was in line with the main objective of data visualization – to take vast, complex sets of information and uncover significant data points and trends for users to gain insight that would otherwise go unnoticed.
The data used to populate the interactive dashboard draws from 38 possible scenarios, with data points that represent a broad spectrum of relevant metrics, including production, consumption, imports and exports for various energy sources. The dashboard also includes economic metrics, such as GDP and potential impact on manufacturing jobs, and other consumer metrics, such as electricity and gas prices.
The result is an informative and user friendly visualization that takes a very complicated and sometimes misunderstood industry and presents data in a way that easy to comprehend.
For more information on this project or to explore the data within the interactive dashboard, please visit http://our.energytomorrow.org/