Two new mobile apps—one from Google and one from a smaller tech startup—may indicate how large scale data analysis, i.e. Big Data, can help you manage your daily affairs. Perhaps the more nuanced app is Sherpa, which “mines your e-mails, calendar, and location data to determine the best time and place to let you know something like your flight information and help with next steps, such as getting a cab to the airport.” The free downloadable app cross-references where you are with what you’ve been doing on your mobile device to make predictions about your future behavior.
What’s the Big Idea?
The key to Sherpa’s effectiveness is its ability to find relevant information in the wide sea of your quotidian correspondence. “Sherpa uses machine learning to understand the content of your e-mail; the company’s technology classifies messages into types and then extracts key information. It creates a geo-fence in the Sherpa app around a relevant geographic area, so when you arrive in a new city for a few days, for example, Sherpa will know to pop up your hotel information.” Or when you approach your favorite coffee shop, your phone could ask if you want the usual so the coffee is prepared when you arrive.