A New Age of Information

Originally published in The Clarion | December 05, 2012

Raw data, in its purest form, is typically not very useful for most of us. Simple numbers – for example, hour-by-hour rainfall totals over a month’s time – are not easy for most of us to comprehend. This same data though, when manipulated into graphs for instance, suddenly becomes information – information that our minds are more receptive to. There are several emerging trends and technologies in the world of data, information and technology that quite possibly could bring about a new Information Age. What most of us think of as an information search very likely will be quite different not too long from now, and the potentials for this new era of information are interesting to say the least.

I would guess that most online information searches are for what I like to call static information. No different from information contained in countless volumes of encyclopedias that many of us used to keep at home or use at a library, if we want to know something, that something is more times than not a piece of solid information recorded as a fact. Sure there are exceptions – stock market values, scores of current (ongoing) sporting events etc. Companies like Google have seemingly perfected the art of finding static information. The current trend now is to find real-time information, and I’m not talking sports scores here.

Companies are beginning to perfect ways of capturing real-time scenarios and making this information available upon request. Let’s consider an example. How convenient would it be to know how many parking places are open at the courthouse square minutes before arriving to renew your vehicle tags? For some, knowing that there is ample parking available would be more than enough to encourage them to head that way. On the flip-side, knowing that all spots are full might save us some time by waiting a while. Being able to request such information, and plan our time accordingly, will have a substantial impact on efficiency in our day-to-day lives in the not so far future.

Let’s take our example one step further. We need to purchase our vehicle tags, which requires us to go to the courthouse. As we all know, there are many functions outside of renewing vehicle tags that take place within that same building. Parking may be slim at any given time, but it could be that most vehicles are parked because it is a big court date, with the tag office relatively empty. Wouldn’t it be nice to know how long the line is for vehicle tags, regardless of the parking situation outside? Sure it might take a little longer to find somewhere to park nearby, but knowing that you would be able to walk right in and take care of business might be enough information to convince you to head that way. Being able to search for such information, as real-time as possible, will be a reality before we know it.