Global Project Explores What The Human Face Of Big Data Looks Like


September 2012 saw the launch of the first ever real-time visualisation of big data in action from around the world in a project called the Human Face of Big Data. The globally crowd sourced venture addressed the impact data has on everyday lives, capturing and analysing answers from respondents about all aspects of life such as family, sleep and trust through a smartphone app.

As the Guardian explains, the project was the brainchild of EMC and award-winning American photographer Rick Smolan, the co-creator of the ground-breaking “Day in the Life” series. The smartphone app gathered data on personal and cultural beliefs from millions of people and on the day of the London launch was downloaded more than 100,000 times across ten countries including the UK, US, Malaysia and India.

The synchronised launch events held in Singapore, London and New York, featured leading Big Data experts which interpreted seven days’ worth of information streaming in from participants using the mobile app all over the world.  At the London event, held just off the Southbank, leading data innovators shared examples of their work in an interactive Big Data Lab, including DataKind, an organisation set up to help third sector bodies use data for the good of humanity. The event was a fantastic showcase for the opportunities available through better data analyse and featured pods looking at specific social insights, such as around crime prevention and healthcare.

The latest stage in the Human Face of Big Data project took place when on the 4th of December, 10,000 copies of a book containing 200 images and compelling essays, arrived on the desks of the world’s most influential people. The book was created by over 100 of the world’s most talented writers, designers and photojournalists, illustrating ways in which big data is already helping to shape and address many of the biggest challenges facing our planet.

The project is still ongoing and, if you’d like to add your data to the project, the free Human Face of Big Data Viewer app is available for download on iOS and Android.  In less than two months, more than 3 million share and compare questions have been answered, in more than 100 countries, through the smartphone app.


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