After nearly 100 years as the largest U.S. based business media brand, Forbes has established itself as a technology leader in the news industry. To compete in a new mobile environment, Forbes designed a next-generation mobile application to better engage users with their stories. They turned to MongoDB to create a new infrastructure for engaging and dynamic content.
Steven Bond, the group director for the Forbes.com Software Development Team, chose MongoDB for its intuitive web interface, ease of use, and low cost. Says Bond of his experience with MongoDB, “it just works.”
MongoDB made it possible for Forbes.com to store all of its data in a single database. This database contains information on nearly one million articles from thousands of global contributors and more than one hundred twenty thousand users, companies and place list entries. With MongoDB, Forbes is able to aggregate its data, connect it to its mobile and web applications, and integrate partner feeds from a centralized location, creating a rich user experience.
“The beauty of MongoDB is that we can constantly evolve without reengineering our entire approach,” says Bond. In his next project, Bond aims to use social media statistics to predict where users will consume content in the future and the kinds of content that will drive traffic. With MongoDB, Bond will help Forbes change how news is consumed and understood.
Using Big Data for Humanitarian Crisis Mapping
In the wake of natural disasters like Typhoon Haiyan, which brought widespread destruction to the Philippines several weeks ago, data management tools have become a critical component of the post-disaster landscape. Aid groups are monitoring tweets and instant messages where the infrastructure exists to support them, while tracking local news reports on the ground to find the areas suffering the greatest damage, directing resources to those most in need. Sourcing data can significantly improve the efforts of aid initiatives after a disaster. Big data for development, or data philanthropy, streamlines crisis management and prevention by using data processing tools to anticipate and respond to humanitarian emergencies. Initiatives like the UN Global Pulse team are using data to find the “digital smoke signals of distress” that can appear months before showing up on official reports. Real-time data monitoring using social networks, cell phones, blogs, and online commerce platforms can alert the team to indicators of social distress or natural disaster. And with the capacity to recognize these trends comes the ability to prepare the right aid or prevention plan that could save lives. What Big Data Can Do Big data can create a clear picture of a disaster’s regional effects. A program called Ushahidi sourced eyewitness reports (in person and through social media) of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The reports’ data became a live crisis map, showing where victims lay buried under collapsed buildings and where aid was most needed. After Typhoon Bopha in the Philippines last year, the Digital Humanitarian Initiative used over 20,000 social media messages to create a map of the storm’s impact and determine where to send aid first. Some organizations believe data for development can soothe social discontent. CNN reported that the U.S. State Department has analyzed data to try and prevent conflict from starting or escalating. Its Conflict and Stabilization Operations office analyzes behavioral patterns and semantic trends in social media to anticipate threats to peace while designing strategies to thwart potential outbreaks of violence. Partnerships For Philanthropy As the data philanthropy movement grows, the tech industry will be observing which companies and corporations are the first to join this global project. Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram might help us move towards a future where disease or disaster can be instantly monitored and possibly prevented, or where the spread of poverty can be stopped in its tracks. The success of these new ventures will not only depend on the determination of the people who work on them. Small humanitarian initiatives will need to develop partnerships with the larger corporations that control telecommunications and census data. Without access to big data or the proper processing tools, data philanthropy groups will not be able to keep up with the demands of crises happening in real time. Going Forward The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report this past June on the importance of big data and humanitarianism. Finding ways to improve humanitarian aid services with data is one of the great challenges and opportunities of our age. But accessing data is not necessarily straightforward. Negotiating with data providers can be difficult and privacy concerns could make corporations unwilling to participate. And while big data processing can be used to improve lives, it should augment existing data gathering methods, not replace them. MongoDB has helped several organizations use data mining to augment public service . The city of Chicago used MongoDB to design WindyGrid , a geographic information system providing a unified view of the city’s operations across a map. Including real-time data like 911 and 311 service calls, critical information is geospatially enabled and tracked to help the Chicago’s Emergency Management and Communications Office handle events or crises across the city. To explore the frontiers of physics, CERN built a Data Aggregation System (DAS) on MongoDB to help physicists search for and aggregate information across complex data landscapes. The data and metadata CERN handles are constantly evolving, but the DAS allows researchers to find information with text based queries, aggregating the results from distributed providers while preserving integrity and security. While these companies haven’t used data mining directly for humanitarian aid, mining data with MongoDB can easily be adapted to philanthropic service. Data philanthropy has the potential to influence humanitarian efforts and change how we understand the scope of big data. As these aid organizations grow in influence, it will be interesting to see how the industry shifts to make room for this new use of data.
Australian Start-Up Ynomia Is Building an IoT Platform to Transform the Construction Industry and its Hostile Environments
The trillion dollar construction industry has not yet experienced the same revolution in technology you might have expected. Low levels of R&D and difficult working environments have led to a lack of innovation and fundamental improvements have been slow. But one Australian start-up is changing that by building an Internet of Things (IoT) platform to harness construction and jobsite data in real time. “Productivity in construction is down there with hunting and fishing as one of the least productive industries per capita in the entire world. It's a space that's ripe for people to come in and really help,” explains Rob Postill , CTO at Ynomia. Ynomia has already been closely involved with many prestigious construction projects, including the residential N06 development in London’s famous 2012 Olympic Village. It was also integral to the construction of the Victoria University Tower in Australia. Link to Podcast Episode Here “These projects involve massive outflow of money: think about glass facades on modern buildings, which can represent 20-30 percent of the overall project cost. They are largely produced in China and can take 12 weeks to get here,” says Postill. “Meanwhile, the plasterer, the plumber, the electrician are all waiting for those glass facades to be put on so it is safe for them to work. If you get it wrong, you can go in the deep red very quickly.” To tackle these longstanding challenges, Ynomia aims to address the lack of connectivity, transparency and data management on construction sites, which has traditionally resulted in the inefficient use of critical personnel, equipment and materials; compressed timelines; and unpredictable cash flows. To optimize productivity, Ynomia offers a simple end-to-end technology solution that creates a Connected Jobsite. Helping teams manage materials, tools, and people across the worksite in real time. IOT in a Hostile Environment The deployment of technology in construction is often fraught with risk. As a result, construction sites are still largely run on paper, such as blueprints, diagrams and models as well as the more traditional invoices and filing. At the same time, there is a constant need to track progress and monitor massive volumes of information across the entire supply chain. Engineers, builders, electricians, plumbers, and all the other associated professionals need to know what they need to do, where they need to be, and when they need to start. “The environment is hostile to technology like GPS, computers, and mobile phone reception because you have a lot of Faraday cages and lots of water and dust,” explains Postill. “You can't have somebody wandering around a construction site with a laptop; it'll get trashed pretty quickly." Enter MongoDB Atlas “On a site, you might be talking about materials, then if you add to that plant & equipment, or bins, or tools etc, you're rapidly getting into thousands and thousands of tags, talking all the time, every day,” said Postill. That means thousands of tags now send millions of readings on Ynomia building sites around the world. All these IoT data packets must be stored efficiently and accurately so Ynomia can reassemble the history of what has happened and track tagged inventory, personnel, and vehicles around the site. Many of the tag events are also safety critical so accuracy is a vital component and packets can't be missed. To address these needs Ynomia was looking for a database that was scalable, flexible, resilient and could easily handle a wide variety of fast-changing sensor data captured from multiple devices. The final component Postill was looking for in a database layer was freedom: a database that didn't lock them into a single cloud platform as they were still in the early stages of assessing cloud partners. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation , which Postill had worked with in the past, suggested MongoDB , a general purpose, document-based database built for modern applications. “The most important factor was that the database is event-driven, which I knew would be difficult in the traditional relational model. We deal with millions of tag readings a day, which is a massive wall of data,” said Postill. A Cloud Database Ynomia is using MongoDB Atlas , the global cloud database service, now hosted on Microsoft Azure. Atlas offers best-in-class automation and proven practices that combine availability, scalability, and compliance with the most demanding data security and privacy standards. “When we started we didn't know enough about the problem and we didn't want to be constrained," explained Postill. "MongoDB Atlas gives us a cloud environment that moves with us. It allows us to understand what is happening and make changes to the architecture as we go." Postill says this combination of flexibility and management tooling also allows his developers to focus on business value not undifferentiated code. One example Postill gave was cluster administration: "Cluster administration for a start-up like us is wasted work," he said. "We’re not solving the customer's problem. We're not moving anything on. We’re focusing on the wrong thing. For us to be able to just make that problem go away is huge. Why wouldn’t you?" Atlas also gives Ynomia the option to spin out new clusters seamlessly anywhere in the world. This allows customers to keep data local to their construction site, improving latency and helping solve for regional data regulations. Real Time Analytics The company has also deployed MongoDB Charts, which takes this live data and automatically provides a real time view. Charts is the fastest and easiest way to visualize event data directly from MongoDB in order to act instantly and decisively based on the real-time insights generated by event-driven architecture. It allows Ynomia to share dashboards so all the right people can see what they need to and can collaborate accordingly. “Charts enables us to quickly visualize information without having to build more expensive tools, both internally and externally, to examine our data,” comments Postill. “As a startup, we go through this journey of: what are we doing and how are we doing it? There's a lot of stuff we are finding out along the way on how we slice and re-slice our data using Charts.” A Platform for Future Growth Ynomia is targeting a huge market and is set for ambitious growth in the coming years. How the platform, and its underlying architecture, can continue to scale and evolve will be crucial to enabling that business growth. “We do anything we can to keep things simple,” concluded Postill. “We pick technology partners that save us from spending time we shouldn't spend so we can solve real problems. We pick technologies that roll with the punches and that's MongoDB.” When we started we didn't know enough about the problem and we didn't want to be constrained," explained Postill. "MongoDB Atlas gives us a cloud environment that moves with us. It allows us to understand what is happening and make changes to the architecture as we go. Rob Postill, CTO, Ynomia