More than 90 percent of the world's recorded information was generated in the past two years alone, according to a Huffington Post story written by Joseph Coughlin, director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab. And with so much information to assist in decision making, it's no wonder that big data is the next big thing.

But such a huge amount of data presents equally large problems, which experts discussed in mid-November at the the MIT SENSEable City Laboratory's UrbanCode Symposium.

The five big questions raised by big data are:

  1. Crowded Agendas: According to Coughlin, big data will signify gaps in existing programs and policies, often identifying potential problems -- ones not yet on the agenda -- bringing attention to items that need to be remedied. But could big data ultimately overload the process? 
  2. Organizational Capacity: Translating raw data into information and therefore knowledge takes organizational capacity, Coughlin writes -- capacity that oftentimes does not exist. 
  3. Objective Data, Subjective Analysis:  While the data being analyzed in big data are objective, the analysis itself can differ, and these varying interpretations of data can present difficult choices for management. 
  4. Public Trust:  With the increased collection of data from the public, issues of trust and privacy naturally arise. It's unclear who data belongs to, how or if it should be kept private, and whether it should ever be sold. 
  5. Can Big Data Make Us Happy?: Big data is often discussed in the context of helping public and private organizations make better decisions. But decisions about what? Will big data simply make what cities do today more efficient, effective and environmentally sustainable? Yes, but is that enough?

For more in-depth descriptions of the problems that big data presents, visit the Huffington Post.

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