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January 31 2013

Hacking robotic arms, predicting flight arrival times, manufacturing in America, tracking Disney customers (industrial Internet links)

Flight Quest (GE, powered by Kaggle) — Last November GE, Alaska Airlines, and Kaggle announced the Flight Quest competition, which invites data scientists to build models that can accurately predict when a commercial airline flight touches down and reaches its gate. Since the leaderboard for the competition was activated on December 18, 2012, entrants have already beaten the benchmark prediction accuracy by more than 40%, and there are still two weeks before final submissions are due.

Robot Army (NYC Resistor) — A pair of robotic arms, stripped from their previous application with wire cutters, makes its way across the Manhattan Bridge on a bicycle and into the capable hands of NYC Resistor, a hardware-hacker collective in Brooklyn. There, Trammell Hudson installed new microcontrollers and brought them back into working condition.

The Next Wave of Manufacturing (MIT Technology Review) — This month’s TR special feature is on manufacturing, with special mention of the industrial Internet and its application in factories, as well as a worthwhile interview with the head of the Reshoring Initiative.

At Disney Parks, a Bracelet Meant to Build Loyalty (and Sales) (The New York Times) — A little outside the immediate industrial Internet area, but relevant nevertheless to the practice of measuring every component of an enormous system to look for things that can be improved. In this case, those components are Disney theme park visitors, who will soon use RFID wristbands to pay for concessions, open hotel doors, and get into short lines for amusement rides. Disney will use the resulting data to model consumer behavior in its parks.


This is a post in our industrial Internet series, an ongoing exploration of big machines and big data. The series is produced as part of a collaboration between O’Reilly and GE.

November 29 2012

New data competition tackles airline delays

Jeff Immelt and a GE jet engineJeff Immelt and a GE jet engine

Jeff Immelt speaking next to a GEnx jet engine at Minds + Machines: Unleashing the Industrial Internet.

The scenario is familiar: a flight leaves the gate in New York on time, sits in a runway queue for 45 minutes, gets a fortuitous reroute over Illinois, and makes it to San Francisco ahead of schedule — only to wait on the terminal apron, engines running, for 15 minutes while a gate and crew materialize. The uncertainty irritates passengers and is costly for the airline, which burns extra fuel, pays extra wages, and has to rebook passengers and crew at the last minute.

A new competition run by Kaggle and sponsored by GE and Alaska Airlines offers $500,000 to data scientists — professional or enthusiast — who can accurately predict when a flight will land and arrive at the gate given a slew of data on weather, flight plans, air-traffic control and past flight performance.

Called GE Flight Quest, it’s tied to the industrial Internet — the idea that networked machines and high-level software above them will drive the next generation of efficiency improvements in complicated systems like airlines, power grids and freight carriers.

Predicting when a plane will arrive is trickier than it sounds because it’s subject to lots of independent, real-time influences. Knowing about the runway queues, reroutings and arrival restrictions in advance would make it possible to figure out exactly when a flight will arrive before it takes off, but the factors that delay most flights — weather, congestion and maintenance — shift constantly and interact in complex ways.

The industrial Internet turns complicated machinery into a platform on which intelligent software can be built. Airlines and air-traffic controllers have gathered vast structured datasets that can be thrown open to any member of the public with a little data intuition. The challenge of flight prediction — handled within the airline industry by highly-specialized systems — becomes approachable as a generic prediction problem.

A companion competition, called Hospital Quest, invites people to propose apps to improve patient experience in hospitals.


This is a post in our industrial Internet series, an ongoing exploration of big machines and big data. The series is produced as part of a collaboration between O’Reilly and GE.

June 07 2012

Strata Week: Data prospecting with Kaggle

Here are a few of the data stories that caught my attention this week:

Prospecting for data

KaggleThe data science competition site Kaggle is extending its features with a new service called Prospect. Prospect allows companies to submit a data sample to the site without having a pre-ordained plan for a contest. In turn, the data scientists using Kaggle can suggest ways in which machine learning could best uncover new insights and answer less-obvious questions — and what sorts of data competitions could be based on the data.

As GigaOm's Derrick Harris describes it: "It's part of a natural evolution of Kaggle from a plucky startup to an IT company with legs, but it's actually more like a prequel to Kaggle's flagship predictive modeling competitions than it is a sequel." It's certainly a good way for companies to get their feet wet with predictive modeling.

Practice Fusion, a web-based electronic health records system for physicians, has launched the inaugural Kaggle Prospect challenge.

HP's big data plans

Last year, Hewlett Packard made a move away from the personal computing business and toward enterprise software and information management. It's a move that was marked in part by the $10 billion it paid to acquire Autonomy. Now we know a bit more about HP's big data plans for its Information Optimization Portfolio, which has been built around Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL).

ReadWriteWeb's Scott M. Fulton takes a closer look at HP's big data plans.

The latest from Cloudera

Cloudera released a number of new products this week: Cloudera Manager 3.7.6; Hue 2.0.1; and of course CDH 4.0, its Hadoop distribution.

CDH 4.0 includes:

"... high availability for the filesystem, ability to support multiple namespaces, HBase table and column level security, improved performance, HBase replication and greatly improved usability and browser support for the Hue web interface. Cloudera Manager 4 includes multi-cluster and multi-version support, automation for high availability and MapReduce2, multi-namespace support, cluster-wide heatmaps, host monitoring and automated client configurations."

Social data platform DataSift also announced this week that it was powering its Hadoop clusters with CDH to perform the "Big Data heavy lifting to help deliver DataSift's Historics, a cloud-computing platform that enables entrepreneurs and enterprises to extract business insights from historical public Tweets."

Have data news to share?

Feel free to email us.

OSCON 2012 Data Track — Today's system architectures embrace many flavors of data: relational, NoSQL, big data and streaming. Learn more in the Data track at OSCON 2012, being held July 16-20 in Portland, Oregon.

Save 20% on registration with the code RADAR

Related:

March 12 2012

O'Reilly Radar Show 3/12/12: Best data interviews from Strata California 2012

Below you'll find the script and associated links from the March 12, 2012 episode of O'Reilly Radar. An archive of past shows is available through O'Reilly Media's YouTube channel and you can subscribe to episodes of O'Reilly Radar via iTunes.



In this special edition of the Radar Show we're bringing you three of our best interviews from the 2012 Strata Conference in California.

First up is Hadoop creator Doug Cutting discussing the similarities between Linux and the big data world. [Interview begins 16 seconds in.]

In our second interview from Strata California, Max Gadney from After the Flood explains the benefits of video data graphics. [Begins at 7:04.]

In our final Strata CA interview, Kaggle's Jeremy Howard looks at the difference between big data and analytics. [Begins at 13:46.]

Closing

Just a reminder that you can always catch episodes of O'Reilly Radar at youtube.com/oreillymedia and subscribe to episodes through iTunes.

All of the links and resources mentioned during this episode are posted at radar.oreilly.com/show.

That's all we have for this episode. Thanks for joining us and we'll see you again soon.

Fluent Conference: JavaScript & Beyond — Explore the changing worlds of JavaScript & HTML5 at the O'Reilly Fluent Conference (May 29 - 31 in San Francisco, Calif.).

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