“Big data” is a term that increasingly appears in the media. It is essentially massive amounts of unstructured data . . . data that in and of itself seems unrelated and without discernible patterns or relationships. But looks can be deceiving.
Using sophisticated database technical architecture and skilled software programmers, data scientists at Google are able to forecast where the next flu outbreak will occur days to weeks before the Centers for Disease Control can do so.
How? Google analyzes hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Internet searches. When they observe a proliferation of searches for flu symptoms concentrated in a community or region, they know influenza may have established a foothold. In reality, this is sophisticated “content analysis.”
In World War II, the allied forces used content analysis to predict Hitler’s military was running low on fuel. Their analysis was based on growing reports in German newspapers regarding fuel shortages. That knowledge gave the allies a strategic advantage regarding an enemy weakness.
The same principle of filtering big data for trends, observations and relationships applies in today’s real estate market. To bring that capability to the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, we have hired Gerald Klassen as our first-ever research data scientist. His first day on the job is June 2.
Gerald will dive deep into Texas housing data and conduct extensive analysis down to the neighborhood level. Combined with existing data, he will enable our researchers to develop sharper insight into what is happening and is likely to happen in the marketplace.
We are excited about the research possibilities this new endeavor offers. These include analysis of housing market conditions, impact studies, cause-and-effect studies, incidence studies and time series.
As we grow our technical capabilities, the possibilities to mine current and new incoming data are almost limitless. With the addition of Gerald Klassen, we now have the visionary necessary to bring the Center into the world of big data.
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