Little data, thanks to smartphones

Posted on November 11, 2013  /  0 Comments

Little data is as bad a term as big data. Really tells you very little. But sadly that is what the New York Times has chosen to use. And I have not had time to come up with something little more insightful.

David Soloff is recruiting an army of “hyperdata” collectors.

The company he co-founded, Premise, created a smartphone application that is now used by 700 people in 25 developing countries. Using guidance from Mr. Soloff and his co-workers, these people, mostly college students and homemakers, photograph food and goods in public markets.

By analyzing the photos of prices and the placement of everyday items like piles of tomatoes and bottles of shampoo and matching that to other data, Premise is building a real-time inflation index to sell to companies and Wall Street traders, who are hungry for insightful data.

. . . . . .

The photographers working for Premise are recruited by country managers, and they receive 8 to 10 cents a picture. Premise also gathers time and location information from the phones, plus a few notes on things like whether the market was crowded. The real insight comes from knowing how to mix it all together, quickly.

Price data from the photos gets blended with prices Premise receives from 30,000 websites. The company then builds national inflation indexes and price maps for markets in places like Kolkata, India; Shanghai; and Rio de Janeiro.

My question, as always, is how confident the company is about the quality of the data provided for 8 cents.

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