In 2013, Netflix, the internet powerhouse of movies and television streaming announced that they were going to produce and stream an original-somewhat original actually- show,  literally customized, using statistical analysis of metadata, which before was only used to recommend shows to viewers based on their viewing habits. All they were going to do, really, was repurpose data already available and  in use. This innovative idea gave birth to the hit television show “House Of Cards” , the company executives and a generation of binge watching fiends thanked the big data and metadata gods. This is probably not the best example but you must forgive me, I am unfortunately, one of those so called binge watching fiends.
The big data and metadata gods aren’t exactly the newest gods on the block, as a matter of fact, since the days of sending scouts to gather intelligence from enemy camps to consulting ancestors and oracles for glimpses into the future, a huge part of decision making is reliant on data available. However, the days of tediously awaiting news from scouts and ambiguous instructions from ancestors and oracles are almost quite behind us and apparently, “…unprecedented rate of innovation in data collection techniques and technologies and the capacity to distribute data widely and freely has expanded the horizon of possible sources and uses of data.” (Data for Development, 2015). IBM reports that the volume of data in the world is increasing exponentially and estimates that about 90% of the data in the world has been created in the past two years,  Michael Karastic of IBN reported that there is over one thousand exabytes-keep in mind that one exabyte is one quintillion bytes, which is equally one billion gigabytes- of data on the planet. In not so many words, there is data, plenty of data and much like every revolution in the history of man, by the sheer audacity of their numbers and importance they can’t and will not be ignored.
Data generated from high resolution satellite imagery, mobile devices biometrics, crowd sourcing have revolutionized the way we live and the way we care for our planet. For Example, in Uganda, the Mtrac program supported by UNICEF and WHO uses sms surveys completed by health worker to inform public health officers on the outbreak of malaria and the supplies available to treat it (http:// . Namibia, echoing the brilliance of Netflix, repurposing already available data, used cell phone records to trace travel patterns and satellite images to help identify the places prone to harboring parasite and mosquito population and help stop the spread of malaria (Data For development Action Plan, 2015). In both South Korea and Nairobi, Kenya cell phone data and GPS tracking devices have been used to improve intra city travel, by mapping bus routes and providing information about the best trail. GEO global agricultural monitoring initiative uses satellite and weather data to provide reports on the growing conditions for maize rice soybeans and wheat( A World That Counts, 2014). This is obviously very useful information, for example in 1997, the Kenyan government used data gotten from satellite imagery and took the initiative of importing extra grain to avoid shortages caused by drought (Skidmore et al, 1997).
While it is well and good to use data altruistically, it’s afterall, human nature to indulge in the opulence of less traffic, more food, better movies and television shows e.t.c,  it is very important that we keep in mind that we haven’t just inherited the earth from our ancestors and forefathers, we have also borrowed it from our children, because what is development if it isn’t sustainable to perpetuity.
With the launch of ERTS-1 in 1972, the way we monitor our planet has taken a turn for the better, we have been kept abreast of  deforestation, agroecologic zonation, ozone layer depletion, food early warning systems, monitoring of large atmospheric-oceanic anomalies such as El Niño, climate and weather prediction, ocean mapping and monitoring, wetland degradation, vegetation mapping, soil mapping, natural disaster and hazard assessment and mapping, and land cover maps for input to global climate models (Skidmore et al, 1997).
All of these information has helped government officials with policy making, urban planners with keeping track of densely populated environs, sustainable development monitors with assessing the level of environmental degradation and impact caused by natural disasters and human activities.
Remote sensing (satellite Imagery) hold big things for the future, for example, Surface Water and Ocean Technology, a new mission to be launched by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the French Centre National d’Études Spatiale (CNES) in the year 2020 has the ability to map water elevation, ocean surface topography as well as its terrestrial bodies.
The big data and metadata gods are here to help and the more slowly government and non-government organizations, companies and private citizens adapt to it, the more expensive it will be to catch up. It is a revolution and this revolution will not be televised, it will be saved to cloud.