Google is the biggest examples of a "big data" company that knows how to use correlations. It keeps records of everything we do with its online services and finds new ways to use that data.
For instance, Google created a realtime flu tracker by watching where people searched for terms relating to illness and mapping that data from the Center for Disease Control.
Here are some examples from the book of Google-like companies doing interesting things with big data.
- Oren Etzioni, creator of one of the first search engines, MetaCrawler, scraped data from a travel website to build a tool called Farecast that predicted when an airfare price was likely to go down. Microsoft bought Farecast for $115 million in 2008. Today, it's part of Bing.
- Then Etzioni turned around and created Decide.com to help people predict when prices will drop on electronics.
- PriceStats tracks the prices of millions of products in over 70 countries to keep tabs on inflation and the economy.
- AirSage gathers 15 billion geolocation records daily from multiple cell phone carriers. It uses this for traffic analysis to help city planners.
- Similarly, Inrix collects traffic data from the sensors in the cars themselves via BMW, Ford, Toyota, and others and uses that to help city planners model traffic flow.