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"Mission Control": EMC2 launches 'Human Face of Big Data'

New York City, Singapore, and London were in for a treat, as EMC2 launched its global conversation around 'The Human Face of Big Data'.
EMC2 | 11.10.2012
On Monday, a global conversation around the The Human Face of Big Data was sparked at “Mission Control” events in London, Singapore and New York. Leading experts provided attendees (and those watching around the world via a live stream) with an extraordinary view of humanity’s new ability to collect, analyze, triangulate and visualize vast amounts of data in real time. Rick Smolan, co-creator of the groundbreaking “Day in the Life” series and other globally crowdsourced media projects, and The Human Face of Big Data primary sponsor EMC, shone a spotlight on how Big Data is changing our planet, addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time and creating what amounts to a central nervous system for our world.

“Big Data is beginning to affect every aspect of our existence,” said Smolan. “Everyone carrying a smartphone has become a human sensor. Our increasing ability to sense and measure the world in real time is something our planet has never seen before. From curing diseases to conserving precious resources such as water and energy, Big Data may be the exact toolset we need to address many of the most pressing issues of our time.”

At Mission Control: NYC, attendees heard from an impressive list of presenters, including Carlos Dominguez, Esther Dyson, Juan Enriquez, Sheldon Gilbert, Scott Harrison, Aaron Koblin, Deb Roy, Paul Sagan and Jer Thorp. They also got a preview of images and stories from the upcoming “The Human Face of Big Data” book. The book features photography, essays and infographics by Nigel Holmes, and is being delivered to 10,000 world leaders, scientists, business leaders and other influencers in 30 countries on November 20.

Immediately following, more than 25 leading entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators shared examples of their work in an interactive “Big Data Lab.”

At Mission Control in Singapore, speakers included Kristian Kloeckl and
Russell John. In London, speakers included Jake Porway and Dave Lundberg.

“It’s important to show that Big Data isn’t just ones and zeroes; it affects people’s lives. Rick knows how to show that. He has a magical way of making things happen and getting people to contribute to projects like this,” said Esther Dyson, founder of EDVenture and a speaker in New York.

“Through Big Data, we can go beyond just isolating largely circulated messages and their authors. We can even find out how influential a person is in social media to show how they are driving real-time conversations. The compilation of Big Data gives us the power to identify the key influencers in any industry,” said Deb Roy, co-founder and chairman of Bluefin Labs.

“Big Data is changing our world and, for the first time in history, we have the ability to use data on our own to change the world for the better. By connecting the skills of the data science community with the causes and vision of the social sector, we can go beyond just using data to make better decisions about what kind of movies we want to see or what restaurants we want to go to, and instead use data to make better decisions about what kind of a world we want to see,” commented Jake Porway, executive director of DataKind.

Also shared at Mission Control Monday was a sampling of early results from the first of eight weeks of data to be collected from “The Human Face of Big Data” mobile app. This free application—available now through November 20, when The Human Face of Big Data book and free iPad app will be released—allows people from around the world to anonymously share and compare their lives using the sensors in their phones and by responding to thought-provoking questions about their dreams, interests and views on family, sleep, trust, sex and luck. The Android version of the app is currently available, and the iOS version will launch soon.

At the end of the project on November 20, the anonymized data will be made available to educators, historians, anthropologists, scientists and the public, providing a snapshot of two months in the life of humanity.

Full videos from each event—New York, London and Singapore—and individual videos from each presenter will soon be available on

To learn more about other elements of The Human Face of Big Data, including the book, the free iPad app and a student initiative called Data Detectives, please visit the website.

The Human Face of Big Data is editorially independent and is made possible through the support of EMC Corporation, which serves as the primary sponsor. Additional supporting sponsorship is provided by Cisco, VMware, Tableau and Originate. Visualizations were provided by metaLayer.