A term frequently used here is “big data,” which refers to new technologies for recording, storing, and analyzing large amounts of data, as well as for displaying the results in a suitable form. For example, a topic that is much discussed is the use of data generated by people who search or buy on the Web or the utilization of data from the world’s financial and communication networks. However, the bits and bytes from industrial facilities, buildings, energy systems, and hospitals are at least just as valuable — and big data, as the term is understood today, is inadequate here. That’s why big data has to evolve into smart data.
We have to understand the mass of data in order to correctly evaluate it. We have to know how the various devices and facilities function and what sensors and measuring technology we need to obtain the really relevant data. The decisive criterion here isn’t necessarily the amount of (big) data, but valuable content (smart). In a large gas turbine, hundreds of sensors measure temperatures, pressures, flows, and gas compositions every second. If you have in-depth knowledge of the facility’s physical properties and thus know how to correctly analyze the data, you can give power plant operators valuable tips on how they can make the facility more efficient and cut pollutant emissions without reducing the output of electricity. The same applies to the optimization of electricity production at wind farms or the minimization of energy consumption in buildings, steel plants, and entire cities. In all of these areas, you have to not only collect the data but also understand it.
Here, people who have both equipment know-how and user know-how — domain know-how — will definitely be in the strongest position. Such people will not only know how gas turbines, steel stamping facilities or power grids work, but also be familiar with the operators’ processes and needs. If they can also develop the right algorithms for evaluating the data, they will be able to provide their customers with real added value in the form of energy savings, more environmentally friendly operations, reduced costs, accelerated processes and more reliable equipment.