Big Data Brings Value to London, Ethically & Responsibly with Mastdon C

By Megan Bozman

If ‘data is the new oil,’ firms like Mastodon C, whose motto is “Big Data Done Better,” are part of the growing industry that explores, drills, and refines to bring value to the crude oil of big data.

Mastodon C bring big data ethically and responsiblyBig Data for Social Benefits
In a recent interview, embedded below, Francine Bennett, CEO and Co-Founder, Mastodon C, stated, “My cofounder and I were working in fields that used a lot of big data technology. We were applying it to things like advertising and finance. We thought it was a great shame that these benefits of using data better weren’t being brought to other areas and other industries that we thought could have a lot more social benefits as well.”

Francine Bennett

Francine Bennett

In particular, Mastodon C is applying big data to city and local government planning. The firm is working with the Greater London Authority to develop and test Witan, a city decision-making platform. The project is supported by Innovate UK, an executive non-departmental public body. Witam provides city information such as future projections of how many residents in an area will need schooling, and how this will interoperate with transport.

Funding Unlocks New Markets

Ms. Bennett explained that the city data platform Witam couldn’t have happened without funding from Innovate UK. “Things like city data are clearly very important, but the market is not immediately there to fund it. The fact that people like Innovate UK can fund the initial development, which then unlocks the market is very important.”

Building Performance Tracking and Analysis with Energy Saving Trust

The Energy Saving Trust (EST), a British organization devoted to promoting energy efficiency and conservation, is also a client of Mastodon C. To learn how best to increase the energy-efficiency of UK buildings, EST monitors retrofit schemes and new building technologies.

In support of these initiatives, Mastodon C built the “Hecuba system,” which automatically accepts trial data at one minute intervals from a wide variety of sensors. The data is displayed in a web-based interface which lets users explore, graph, and calculate energy performance measures across a wide range of indicators. The system now contains 850 GB of data and over 2,000 buildings and 18,500 sensors. All of Mastodon C’s technology is open-sourced and cloud-based.

A tapestry plot of building air temperature

A tapestry plot of building air temperature

With the Great Power of Big Data Analytics comes Great Responsibility

While presenting at Big Data Week back in April 2013 Ms. Bennett implored her fellow big data pros, “Be careful about how you use data, particularly thinking about how things could be misinterpreted. Public data often contains interesting details which are not there in the raw data, but which you can draw out. As analysts, we have a responsibility to think about how our analysis could be used or misused, because we have these skills to bring out information that other people may not have.”

Focus on Sustainability

The C in Mastodon C stands for ‘Carbon Cloud Compute’. The company uses data centers powered by clean, renewable energy in order to reduce carbon emissions. It’s always great to witness such actions behind words.

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