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Break down departmental silos for better data quality, faster answers

Rachel Wheeler Archive

During the past year-and-a-half, big data has surfaced as the most attention-grabbing business strategy because it promises to generate actionable insights through the enormity of its reach. Correlations between weather temperature and teens' affinity for seeing matinees at shopping center movie theaters can be whittled out of transaction data, social media posts and internet information, enabling brands to take action (such as scheduling popular films during those times or hitting that client base with promotions for free snacks) and maximize profits.

However, making those connections is not as easy as it might seem, even if users have expensive processing platforms. They also need to be asking the right questions and using data quality tools like address management systems to ensure the data they're collecting from multiple sources is accurate and complete. Databases that are used in office environments can vary from those implemented on social networks. Likewise, departments often employ various methods of storing information that can lead to data quality issues as the content is transferred across platforms. 

This is currently an issue in the search for clues about the perpetrator of the attack on the Boston Marathon, according to The Wall Street Journal. Investigators are going through information from 77 information-sharing facilities to find clues about the tragedy. However, they are finding that interoperability issues are arising due to data silos. 

Mike Sena, president of the National Fusion Center Association, told the news source, "Not being able to pull that data together is a huge problem."

Analysts will need to parse together information that's been pulled from myriad sources and streamed from various platforms, as authorities have asked individuals in attendance to submit any videos, photos or other content that can aid in the investigation, according to USA Today. By reviewing thousands of recordings from various perspectives (both leading up to the explosions at the finish line and around the city before and after), investigators hope to spot images that lead to answers.