In our first Safety Tech Trends post, we discussed how the Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming the world around us by connecting physical items (like your helmet) to the internet. With more devices collecting information than ever before, two other buzzwords have emerged: Big Data and Predictive Analytics.
As explained by SAS, Big Data describes the large volume of data – both structured and unstructured – that inundates a business on a day-to-day basis. Business Intelligence (BI) tools help us make sense of this data, revealing trends and insights. Predictive Analytics takes this one step further, using algorithms to identify the likelihood of future events based on historical data. To summarize, Big Data tells us what has happened, and Predictive Analytics estimates what will.
Since the widespread adoption of cloud computing in 2015, Business Intelligence and analytics tools have become more common across different industries and use cases. There are many examples of this in today’s world:
Down to Earth Data – Cisco-backed Prospera processes millions of data points each day to help farmers predict and optimize yield. Their technology aggregates existing farm data with in-field sensors, creating a holistic view of irrigation, fertilization, and many other aspects of production.
Charting New Waters – Maritime analytics company Windward gathers data from thousands of ships to provide an accurate picture of what’s happening at sea. Their data exposed widespread maritime manipulation, revealing that an increasing number of ships are falsifying their identities, routes, and other details that are crucial to industry decision-makers.
Pre-op Precision – Healthcare startup KelaHealth is “bringing insights from millions of patients to every patient.” Their cloud software leverages huge sets of surgical data to predict a specific patient’s complication risk and recommend the best course of action to hospital staff.
The use of Big Data and Predictive Analytics is all around us, and examples could go on to include nearly every industry and business function. The potential insights are limitless as organizations continue to collect and process vast sets of data.
Big Data in Safety
The impact of these trends is already being felt by safety professionals. In 2016, OSHA amended its record-keeping rules and required over 450,000 employers to electronically submit their injury and illness data each year. This information is being used to create a full scope database that will help the association identify hazards and improve prevention activities.
At eCompliance, we’ve started to develop and test a reporting feature that cross-references weather data with the GPS locations of all the forms submitted by our users throughout time. By introducing more variables like weather information, we can further grow our data set and better understand leading indicators.
What is the future of Predictive Analytics for EHS?
With more and more organizations using safety software over pen-and-paper or Excel, the amount of available EHS data has skyrocketed. Information from inspections, audits, indicators, accidents, and more is already providing actionable insights to decision-makers. eCompliance customers have completed millions of inspections through our mobile app, creating billions of data points – a number that is growing fast. This information is visualized and reported on through Safety Intelligence, enabling EHS professionals to discover trends, share insights and drive safer outcomes.
While the data produced by individual companies is valuable, it’s the combined data sets from hundreds of organizations that holds the key to achieving the next milestone in safety performance. By analyzing large amounts of information, we’ll be able to better understand cause-and-effect relationships and prevent incidents before they occur. Preventative Analytics (a better term than predictive for safety) will transform EHS management, improve employee wellbeing and drive business success.
Interested in learning more? Check out our eBook for a closer look at Predictive Analytics and other tech trends that will transform EHS.