The Five Most Intriguing Big Data Analytics Applications of 2018

by Maggie Nazer


Big data analytics are transforming industries well beyond banking, manufacturing, and retail. Applications of the methodology are now to be found virtually everywhere, highlighting the value and versatility of tailored analytics solutions. In a special start-of-the-year issue we look back at some of the most compelling big data applications of the past year.


In October, 2018 the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a special report urging governments to rapidly take measures to halt global warming. With devastating natural disasters becoming more common throughout the world, the UN report argues that we have about a dozen years to minimize the global warming catastrophe expected.  In 2018 the fight against climate change was joined by an ambitious Berlin-based startup, named Plan A, which aims to “organise, optimise and develop climate action so that it becomes efficient and impactful enough to save the planet in time.”

To that end, the startup has developed a data analytics algorithm using publicly available data to predict where and how climate change will hit hardest. The Plan A algorithm utilizes data published from global research projects and institutional indices on climate change and environmental indicators such as the Climate Change Performance Index, World Bank Development Indicators and more.

Vamsi Akuraju, Head of Data at Plan A, contends that as a novel approach in addressing climate change, using data analytics is a game-changer: “Predictive analytics techniques offer a fresh lens to better isolate climate change consequences specific to a region, country or sector.” Based on the algorithm insights, the startup channels capital accrued through crowdfunding to environmental organisations and innovators who address the most alarming issues in the affected locations. 


Public Issues

Every day five people die from suicide in the Netherlands. In an effort to change these tragic statistics, in 2018 a non-profit called Foundation 113 Suicide Prevention and a public research centre, named Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), started collaborating on a data analytics project to improve suicide detection and prevention. Using data from the country’s Central Bureau of Statistcis, the two organisations strive to better understand the specific factors that play a key role in suicide such as the impact of one’s environment, personal characteristics and availability of care, and aim to reduce the number of suicides by providing better assistance

The US Department of Veterans Affairs and the US National Institute of Health have similarly partnered on developing a big data algorithm to help clinicians identify veterans at high risk of suicide, drastically increasing the reliability of suicide identification and prevention.


Human Rights

Whereas 1.2 million children around the world are trafficked each year, previously with little chance of being rescued, the US-based Polaris Project has been leveraging Big Data to fight child trafficking successfully for the past few years. In a partnership with data analytics company Palantir, the Polaris Project analyzes unstandardized data from diverse public and private sources to locate victims, help them, and use the data collected to decipher broader trafficking trends. Big data analytics has allowed the Polaris Project to operate with faster response time, and at a greater success rate which has virtually saved the lives of thousands of children.



Big data analytics have now been firmly embedded in most professional sports, helping athletes and coaches measure and analyze tens of factors affecting performance – from physical indicators such as breathing and heartbeat patterns to lifestyle choices including food and sleep. Analytics based on big data are scoring major points in the sports industry because they help make predictions where it was once impossible. For instance, data-driven insights can predict players’ injuries, contractual fluctuations and more.

During the 2018 World Cup football championship the German National Team used a very advanced analytics dashboard to help coaches and players review performance, and scout opponents. Evermore popular among professional football teams, analytics may not have helped Germany to with the World Cup, but they are steadily shaping the future of football. Importantly, despite their many benefits for sports teams and management, big data analytics can also render sports teams vulnerable in the case of security breaches and data theft.



This December GemSeek won the Market Research Society (MRS) Award for Innovation in Data Analytics. Our innovative approach to customer retention through machine learning and predictive analytics carried out alongside our partner Liberty Global was selected among outstanding projects incorporating Big Data from fellow industry players, including OmnicomMediaGroup and Twitter & IPG Mediabrands.

In order to predict customer dissatisfaction and counteract customer churn, our project involved creating state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms using multiple data sets available to the company, including customer survey data, customer transactions and usage data, and demographics. Striving to create a practical solution to allow Liberty Global’s customer service representatives to pinpoint leaving customers and engage them proactively, we helped embed the predictive model into the operational system of the company. The model predicts customers at risk with 80% accuracy, allowing for operational effectiveness and improved retention management.


Looking forward

As you can see from the examples provided above, the possibilities of using Big Data analytics are boundless. Have you considered what Big Data can do for your business? At GemSeek we pride ourselves in being trusted consultants and partners no matter where our clients begin their analytics journey. Get in touch to discuss how our cutting-edge analytics can help you meet and exceed your goals in 2019.