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Firefighting, Running and Beyond: Big Data Success Stories

Authors Photo Christopher Tozzi | March 26, 2020

You hear about big data all day long, but do you know how it is used in the real world? Here’s a look at examples where big data solved real problems.

Big data examples in practice

One of the reasons big data has become so popular is that there are so many things you can do with it. As the following big data examples illustrate, the list of ways that it can be put to work is virtually unlimited.

Producing a television series is expensive. If you make the wrong bet about which type of content your target viewers want to see, the costs could be enormous.

Traditionally, predicting which television content will sell has required a mix of expert analysis and luck. Using big data, however, the process can become more automated and reliable.

With over 151 million subscribers, Netflix has tons of customer information, and the company knows exactly what to do with it. Netflix itself estimates that its recommendation system, which is based on big data analysis at its core, accounts for over 80 percent of the content streamed on the platform. This earns the company over a billion in customer retention alone.

Improving firefighters’ work

Fighting fires is a dangerous job. A Dutch researcher and firefighter, Bart van Leeuwen, is working to make it safer using big data.

By collecting and analyzing information related to firefighters’ work, van Leeuwen strives to highlight problems in common firefighting techniques and provide the foundation for creating innovative firefighting devices. The results will be faster control of fires and safer working conditions for firefighters.


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Streamlining construction

Material waste and work mistakes account for 35 percent of expenses in the construction industry. That means that vast sums of money are lost that could easily be saved during building projects by improving builders’ ability to use material and labor more efficiently.

This is what companies like JE DUNN are working to do by leveraging big data. Real-time analytics allow builders to make more accurate projections when planning and executing projects.

Helping runners go the distance

Want to run a marathon? You’ll have to put in hard work and lots of practice. There is no getting around that.

However, big data can make preparing for a marathon (and running in general) easier and more effective. Information collected from devices during runs can help runners improve their performance, and analysis of runners can be used to improve runners’ technique.


These are just some big data examples in the real world. The problems that it’s solving in these cases may not be the types of challenges that first come to mind when you think of it. The fact that information can be applied to the problems discussed above highlights the possible use cases are practically limitless.

What can it do for your organization? What value can it bring? Read more about it in our eBook: A Data Integrator’s Guide to Successful Big Data Projects