For Toronto Transit, will ‘Big Data’ mean ‘Big Difference’?

Since the turn of the millennium, the term ‘Big Data’ has been adopted as the face of the technological revolution benefiting companies and economies the world over.

The art of extrapolating and analyzing information – then selling it as a refined product – has proven to be lucrative and invaluable for modern firms looking to find an edge in the ever-competitive knowledge-based economy.  In short, companies are needing to be increasingly innovative in order to better solve key issues – and Big Data is an important tool for achieving this.

Big Announcement

The City of Toronto led by Mayor John Tory has long been an advocate of the much alluded to 21st century tool, hailing Big Data as a possible instrument for helping alleviate Toronto gridlock.  Last year, the subject of Big Data and transportation filled in much of Mayor Tory’s calendar.  Key actions included consulting with prominent technological minds at Ryerson’s digital media zone where latest data-collection methods and technologies are being explored; hosting a hack-a thon at the Evergreen Brickworks where participants collaborated with traffic analysts, government officials and data collectors to offer insight and solutions; and forming a Big Data Innovation Team.

Big Conference

Recently, Mayor Tory bolstered his efforts towards the utilization of Big Data with the announcement that the City of Toronto, along with the University of Toronto, will be hosting a conference centered on the theme of ‘Big Transportation Data.’ The conference will aim to facilitate communication and networking between 17 North American cities, their officials and staff in order to find solutions for shared traffic-related issues.  Attending cities will also have the chance to coordinate with academics and industry leaders over the concrete and actionable possibilities of urban transportation data.

Where Big Data fits into the discussion of congestion in Toronto is anyone guess, but at least one truth is apparent; in the modern era, transportation infrastructure is both costly and time-consuming to install.  In the modern world where economies are growing at the fullest of tilts, cities like Toronto are struggling to keep pace.  Investing in better mediums for gathering and analyzing data to more effectively solve issues like gridlock, will allow cities, similarly to private companies, the ability to gain a competitive advantage.

So, what do you think?  Is Big Data the magic bullet for Toronto’s transit issues?  Will hosting a Big Data conference benefit our city as much as Mayor Tory claims?

For more information about the event click here.