By Chris Smith
Big data, big deal
“According to the data trends, premature babies with more stable heartbeats were more susceptible to infections. These conclusions were most unexpected,” big data guru Rick Smolan tells us.
Smolan, co-author of the book The Human Face of Big Data, is a big believer in how the identification of trends within the capacious amounts of data being generated, collected and properly analysed, is our single biggest ally in the battle to extend life.
In the case of ‘Project Artemis’ at the University of Ontario, smarter use of this so-called ‘big data’ is already helping to preserve the lives of the planet’s most fragile new inhabitants.
You see, from the moment we leave the womb (and before that) we’re exuding data with every tiny breath, but up until quite recently, analysis of that heart rate data was rather facile.
Babies would, of course, be connected to heart rate monitors, but they only informed neonatal staff whether the patient was comfortable or in distress. When the babies were sent home, with a presumed clean bill of health, this data was discarded with no further analysis.
Dr Carolyn McGregor decided to look deeper and her initial findings identified a crucial trend; that these babies’ hearts were regulating and stabilising at the onset of infection.