The Power of Data

Posted on: March 15th, 2011 by Matt M No Comments

The saying “knowledge is power” comes to mind when discussing the Power of Data, and while it might be a bit of a cliché, the saying is true. We have more data readily available than ever before and the resources to manipulate and display that data are abundant as well. Ultimately, what is important is what you can learn from the data.

Acquiring Data
The number of data sources is growing everyday; with sensors getting smaller and cheaper, the amount of environmental Runner Imagemonitoring data being captured is astronomical. It is even coming from places you may never have even thought it would. There are the obvious sources of data like temperature information in a building, freezer, warehouse, etc or weather data for almost any point on the planet is also available.

Where it gets really interesting is when you think of less conventional places to gather data. Take for instance my running shoes. Last year I got into running and started using the Nike+ system for my iPod. A little sensor slides into my shoe, transmits info to my iPod and is loaded onto the Nike+ website whenever I connect my iPod to the computer. Because the system collects the data so easily, I’m able to tell you:

I ran over my farthest run last year (I started using the Nike+ in June of 2010) was 6.54 miles
My fastest mile was 8:32
I ran over 160 miles in 7 months (I’m on pace for over 400 miles in 2011), and
My average mile in 2011 is a minute faster than it was in 2010

Another odd place to get sensor data from is a scale. Obviously, every time you hop on you are receiving data, but I’ve recently started using a Withings scale. This thing is cool. You connect it to your wireless network, hop on, and it transmits important weight information to their website. I wont get into the specifics, but:

Over the last year I’ve trended downward
The month or so preceding a race (two 5Ks and a 10K in 2010) I tend to lose weight a bit faster, and
I don’t do so great around the holidays

Data is becoming easier and easier to acquire and allows us to see patterns, trends, and interesting facts about our data.

Working with all of this Data
So, we have all of this data. What do we do with it? There are tons of programs out there (some free) that let you manipulate data, run calculations on the data, and ultimately draw conclusions from the information you’ve acquired.

Whether you are a pharmaceutical company or a manufacturing company the data you acquire with your loggers is what you need to determine if your materials are being stored correctly, if the conditions that your final products are kept in are appropriate so that you can bring them to market safely, and often something as simple as the comfort of your employees. The answer to any one of these situations is incredibly important; they affect your business, consumer safety, and productivity. Being able to make informed decisions is the power of your data.

Analyzing and Learning From the Data
So how do you make informed decisions with your data? A great deal of factors other than the ones you can record with a data logger go into making a decision, but looking at trends, raw data points, and anomalies can give you insight into the situation.

As I was writing about my running and year of weighing myself above, I realized that I should compare the two to see if I found any interesting information. Lo and behold (and probably not so surprisingly) I discovered that the weeks before a race I am not only running faster and farther, but also have my largest weight loss weeks as well. Now, I don’t think I change my diet much the week before a race, but assuming that is about level with other weeks (and without running any statistical correlation scenarios), it would appear that if I run faster and farther I lose more weight. Like I said, not too surprising, but this provides some evidence of an effective method to increase my average weekly weight loss.

Dickson is About the Data.
We’ve been in the business of collecting data for over 80 years. It’s kind of our thing. From our internal processes to our customer facing processes, Dickson is an environment of quality improvement. By this, I mean that we are always acquiring information about our business and analyzing it to improve both our business and our products.

We know that monitoring your environments is important business and that’s why we develop products that are based on customers’ needs as well as standards for quality and reliability. We offer many different ways to view your data, be it on the logger itself (touchscreens), on your computer via a wireless device (WiZARD2), on a paper chart (chart recorders), or on the computer via a wired connection (data loggers). All these options give you the best flexibility when it comes to how you want to collect, view, and learn from your data.

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