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See the light in dark data

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Dark data, or big data that has not been sorted or used can still help companies, all it needs is to be brought to the front with analytics, sharing and the correct implementation process, writes BRYAN BALFE of Commvault.

Dark data is a relatively new term to the industry, defined by Gartner “as the information assets organisations collect, process and store during regular business activities, but generally fail to use for other purposes (for example, analytics, business relationships and

direct monetising).” Almost all organisations have volumes of dark data stored away in dusty vaults and off-site storage facilities, historically unaccounted for, unmanaged, and undervalued.  However, modern day information sharing with analytics is bringing the reign of

dark data into the spotlight – mobility trends mean that users can create and share at will through a range of devices, including smartphones, laptops and tablets.

Many organisations are discovering that they lack both the policy and technology needed to efficiently manage data outside of the corporate data centre.  Additionally, the growth of data – and big data especially – is causing enterprise to finally look to address the issue of dark data, if only to curb mounting storage costs.

Stepping into the light

Tackling dark data can be intimidating – even to the most accomplished of Chief Information Officers (CIOs). Organisations have very little awareness of the location, volume, composition, ownership, risk, and business value of their unstructured data..  Based on the complexity associated with managing dark data, Gartner recommends that

“organisations should review the scope of their unstructured data problems by using File Analysis (FA) tools to understand where dark unstructured data resides and who has access to it.”  FA differs from traditional storage reporting tools because the technology doesn’t

just report on simple file attributes, but can also provide critical contextual information; with the ability to analyse, index, search, track, report on file mega data and even content.

Reducing the risk of the unknown

FA tools applied to dark data provide business value in a number of ways, one of which is by helping organisations reduce risk. By identifying which files reside where, and who has access to them, FA tools introduce an element of control. They can also help organisations make more informed decisions around prioritising their unstructured data management needs for classification and information governance, providing insights in setting retention policies for data movement. Many FA tools also offer reporting capabilities that help define these retention policies; according to Gartner, “The value of reports in FA tools is that they can be used to determine policy and strategy in areas such as access, retention and location.”

The real cost of keeping everything

IT administrators often struggle with having little to no insight into what data is being created; limited control over how it is being stored; and almost no understanding of its business value.  When it comes to information lifecycle governance, more often than not, organisations choose to lean on cold storage tape vaults to keep every scrap of data due to a paralysing fear that they may throw away something of value. Recent studies suggest that 69 percent of a

company’s stored data has absolutely no value to the organisation.  In essence this means that organisations could be spending up to 20 percent of their annual budget on storing data that has gone stale, with virtually no Return on Investment (ROI) . When it comes to getting to grips with the mammoth task of dark data, FA tools deliver enterprises with the information required to ‘clean up’ legacy and current data, by identifying which data can moved to lower cost storage, and others which can be deleted.

Defining the value of business data

The key to satisfying the need to hoard information, as well as those who might leverage it for the business, is to first identify what data has value for which part of the organisation, and for how long, so that it can be leveraged.   Once data has been evaluated and indexed properly, organisations can better determine how and where to store that data – whether it’s locally, in the cloud, or using a combination of solutions. The classification process, enabled by FA tools, can also support a well-defined data strategy and used to enforce information governance policies. Although, as Gartner highlights, less than 1 percent of organisations manage their unstructured data today, by 2018 that figure is expected to increase up to 25 percent . Budget implications will drive the need for data management policy and data classification. Automated classification will play an increasingly integral role in the implementation of data classification policies, which will ultimately lead to a more streamlined approach and cost savings.

* Bryan Balfe, Enterprise Account Manager at Commvault

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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