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Master Data Management

Lawrence Poynter (Global) - Data in the Danger Zone

Imagine waking up to the sound of your bedroom wall splitting in two. Your bed is moving across the floor, the lamp you reached for as you woke flickers and goes out, and your usually trusty mobile phone is fully charged but has no signal because the network is down.

Even if you could call for help, the emergency services are powerless to assist you as they are facing a national crisis with no way to communicate with those most at risk, and no real data to provide an informed response to what is happening in the danger zone.

Despite the spread of mobile technology across the globe, events such as natural disasters, acts of war and terrorist attacks can render a well-connected city or town helpless - instantly isolated and in the dark, both literally and metaphorically. In recent years, camera phones have captured firsthand the carnage wreaked by events such as these, but the footage fails to provide the viewer with a broader sense of their true impact.

Moreover, the images or videos rarely surface until after the event has run its course. Indeed, there are still very few ways in which those on the ground can get large quantities of meaningful data to those who can help quickly.

Network compression and network acceleration technologies have been tried in the past, but have had limited success when a network has gone down. Even satellite phones are not immune to trouble on the ground and are unable to transmit large amounts of data over what effectively becomes a bandwidth bottleneck in an emergency situation.

However, latest developments are now successfully delivering much larger volumes of data to the network edge. They combine compression and network acceleration technologies with content distribution and geo replication, and are already being used for tactical surveillance and reconnaissance in remote areas of the world where obtaining and transmitting data is critical, and network or satellite connection cannot be guaranteed.

For example, a parachutist using this technology could drop into a crisis zone armed only with a standard laptop with a pre-loaded virtualised portal. Disconnected from the networked world, the local portal holds all the data available at the operational HQ e.g. maps, weather forecasts, potential transportation obstacles, and detailed regional information on the hazards they may face. Most importantly, using satellite comms they can transmit data describing the actual operation picture back in real-time to those in a position to take affirmative action in a crisis situation.

Although firsthand camera phone footage of catastrophic events is crucial in ensuring the wider world is aware of what is occurring in times of crisis, if you want to get a true picture of what is happening you don't need a phone, you need data.


By Lawrence Poynter, Director of Product Development, iOra

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