On big data, the Boston Marathon and civil liberties


For all the concerns over mobile phone logs, video footage and other data collection that could potentially be used to survail American citizens, it’s times like this that I think we see their real value.

According to a Los Angeles Times article about Monday’s bomb attack at the Boston Marathon, the FBI has collected 10 terabytes that it’s sifting through in order to seek out clues about what exactly happened and who did it. Maybe I’m just a techno-optimist, but I find this very reassuring.

According the Times, “The data include call logs collected by cellphone towers along the marathon route and surveillance footage collected by city cameras, local businesses, gas stations, media outlets and spectators who volunteered to provide their videos and snap shots.”

Lots of data means lots of potential value

It’s reassuring because I’ve spoken with so many smart people over the years who can do amazing…

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