How data science is affecting all of our lives for the better

20 Jul 2016

Irish companies are at the forefront of data science innovation, with farming, for example, front and centre of an analytics revolution. Next Generation Recruitment explains how all of our lives are improving because of this.

All over the world we are seeing a massive increase in the amount of data we can record and then analyse for the greater good of humanity.

DatSci Awards

A local example of this would be the National Ploughing Championships, which serves as one of Ireland’s biggest annual tech innovation arenas showcasing many data-driven innovations. The event had over 280,000 visitors over three days in 2015, with similar numbers expected for 2016.

This demonstrates that data-driven innovation in agriculture is happening rapidly in Ireland, with lots of exciting potential benefits including reduced herd mortality and healthier animals.

Herdwatch is just one great example of an Irish data-driven innovation company developed to help farmers in their daily lives monitoring their herds.

Droning on

Drones are also helping to achieve more data-led insights for agriculture. In Ireland, the drone scene is booming and this is enabling more and more companies to develop potential commercial insights, drawing on the value of the data gathered.

Ireland is in the fortunate position to be reaping the benefits of innovation in both drone technology and data analysis. With the two together, there are many more exciting future possibilities in monitoring hard-to-reach parts of industrial complexes, flooded areas, search and rescue operations and other scenarios where it may not be necessary to risk human life to gather important data.

This data visualisation was created using D3.js by Mike Bostock, a great example of how data can both be useful and beautiful too.

These data visualisations were created using D3.js by Mike Bostock, a great example of how data can be both be useful and beautiful too. Image via DatSci Awards

Continual growth

“Data is growing exponentially and data analytics is emerging from back-office research in organisations to sit centre stage, impacting on strategy and operations and demonstrating significant value,” said Cronan McNamara, founder of the annual Predict data conference (and one of the judges for the annual DatSci awards).

“According to Forbes, 89pc of business leaders believe big data will revolutionise business operations in the same way the internet did.”

Many Irish-based companies are making the most of these new opportunities and developing new and exciting products to help bring more meaning and insights into how we live our lives.

“Infrastructure, algorithms and data availability have reached a point where truly intelligent business applications can be built, and all the great work we’ve put into AI for the past five decades is starting to flourish and become useful,” said  Parsa Ghaffari, founder of Aylien.

Ghaffari’s innovative tools are now being used globally, one example being where a researcher in Japan used Aylien to further their cancer research.

Ireland leads the way

Edward McDonnell, director of the CeADAR centre for big data analytics, thinks this is an exciting time for data science, allowing researchers to extract meaningful insights from the growing volume of data.

“Ireland is building a huge competence in data analytics,” he said. “The third-level education sector has stepped up to the challenge of significantly increasing the supply of data scientists and has produced many postgraduate conversion courses across the country in data analytics.

“Enterprise Ireland, the IDA and [Science Foundation Ireland] have also made significant investments in large data analytics competency centres. This, all taken together, has positioned Ireland as a significant global player in the space.

“The fact that so many multinational companies are basing their data analytics centres here is testament to the strategic foresight that pinpointed data as the new raw material of business.”

Beyond Ireland, Niven Narain, founder of Berg, noted earlier this year how his new methodologies are aimed at reverse engineering the cancer process to tackle a range of serious life-threatening cancer types. By using algorithms to discover treatments for cancer, his company have opened up the potential for new, rapid developments.

This is only a brief introduction into all the potential exciting opportunities that data science is opening up to improve the quality of life for many people across the globe.

By Emma Quinn

Emma Quinn is senior marketing manager of Next Generation Recruitment who, in association with CeADAR, will host the inaugural DatSci Awards in September 2016.

A version of this article originally appeared on

Main farming image via Shutterstock