Big Data – saving lives, beating fraud & clearing runways


After years of collecting and compiling vast amounts of data, the time has come to benefit from this data. One of the key ways that Big Data can be made actionable is by implementing operational efficiencies and multiple improvements that can save money, increase income and save lives.

CBR looks at 5 key sectors, highlighting examples where Big Data has been utilised in order to improve infastructure and service.


In New York there were between 200,000 and 600,000 tenants living in illegally converted apartments, the issue being that the buildings could be fire traps in addition to being illegal. However, due to the owners being illusive and the city not effectively responding to complaints, there were occurrences of fires and death.

Data from multiple city agencies was used to compile The Risk Based Inspection System, a system which identifies buildings for inspection that pose greater risk. This system helps to prioritise 50,000 safety inspections by tracking – scoring – prioritising and scheduling inspection.

The data used evaluates construction material, whether the building has a sprinkler system, height and age of the building, previous date of inspection and occupancy. This can also track the building’s violation history and schedule follow up inspections. Other data sources include fire history and fire code enforcement actions.


The medical industry is making big strides with Big Data in ways to make efficiencies; in both the UK and U.S money is being saved through data analytics.

A significant area that is being address is medical fraud, particularly in the U.S. By analysing the big data from Medicare billing, the authorities could find any aberrations. For every dollar spent to combat healthcare fraud, the U.S government has collected $8 in recoveries from forfeiture, asset seizures and fines. This has amounted to $4.3 billion in 2013 and a total of $19.2 billion over 5 years.

In the UK, Big Data is being used to improve care standards. The data that will be utilised will be that of all NHS patients based on an Opt Out system – the patient data will be automatically used, unless the patient opts-out.

Although there are issues with privacy and how personal data is being shared, the system is designed to enable the public to hold the NHS to account, and ensure that any unacceptable standards of care are improved.

Additionally, it is designed to improve the patients understanding of the outcomes of care, to identify who could be at risk of a condition -or who would benefit from a particular treatment.

There is also the aim to make sure NHS organisations receive the correct payments for the services they provide and also to guide decisions about how to manage NHS resources. This aims to better support the treatment and management of illness for all patients.

The NHS is still in the process of implementing big data analytics, having had to deal with numerous concerns over data use, however, it is expected that the NHS will be able to save billions.


The challenges facing transport systems around the world are related to the need to provide more efficient transportation services and better designed transport routes. Looking at Big Data will play an important role in making transport more cost and time effective.

Gatwick airport has been utilising data from both its passengers and third party retail stores, who upon request agreed to share data.
The data that Gatwick airport has been utilising includes the data from passenger numbers – how they got to the airport, how they leave, male or female etc. Additional data includes purpose of travel, which terminal they check-in at, as well as airport data including the size of the terminals, how many desks the terminal has and how many staff man those desks..

The data has been used to increase the number of passengers through security from 165 per hour to 600, with the retail stores benefiting from the extra time given to passengers to shop. The analysis of the data has also enabled the airport to increase flights per hour, from 50 to 55, and has enabled an additional 2 million passengers to travel each year. Gatwick implemented the Amadeus cloud-based system which analyses real time data to improve operations.

Other transport efficiencies looking to be made through the use of Big Data involve the City of Boston and private firm Uber. Both parties have agreed to share data, with the data consisting of anonymised trip level data, Zip Code Tabulation Area, when the trip began, when it ended, trip duration and distance travelled.

With Uber claiming that data is collected from the 100,000 journeys made in each of the largest cities that it operates in – the data collected is vast. The idea behind the sharing of the data is to improve Boston’s road systems, infrastructure, transport routes and to reduce casualties on the roads, as well as building towards smart cities.

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