Nevada goes all in on ‘big data’; move to impact local economy

Ah, yes, those pesky, pushy marketers.

TMRPA Data ViewerThanks to the advent of sophisticated data-crunching technology, the private sector has succeeded in categorizing and compartmentalizing consumers into neat little pockets based on their buying behaviors and spending habits.

For many folks, being a statistic in such prized data sets used to be their most immediate connection to huge and complex clusters of information known as “big data.”

Like Kevin Bacon, however, the degrees of separation between these large data sets and people keep shrinking. These days, anyone with a Facebook account already is part of an ongoing experiment involving the use of big data.

Big data’s influence is only going to get, well, bigger.

Long the domain of well-funded researchers, private companies and the federal government, the sophisticated use of massive data clusters is now starting to get play within states and cities as a tool for driving policy and economic development.

This includes Nevada, which has ramped up its stake on this increasingly popular destination on the information superhighway.

Thanks to a slew of data-crunching initiatives — including new high-profile projects backed by technology heavyweights such as IBM, the Silver State now is betting big on big data.

If everything goes as planned, data sets will play a huge role in decisions that affect the lives of every Nevadan, from economic development and the creation of new communities to access to that “high-quality H2O” Bobby Boucher keeps raving about in the movie “Waterboy.”

“Big data isn’t just a trend; it is the future,” said Stephen Wells, president of the Desert Research Institute. “It has the potential to fundamentally change our economy and the way we do scientific research (as well as) the way we live.”

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