Big Data is one of those terms that seems to promise much and deliver little. Now frequently talked about by everyone from research scientists to branding analysts, most of the time the term sounds more like an empty trend than a real advance.
Now, though, Big Data might have found a real-world use, and an important one: preventing gun crime. Advocates of collecting even just the most minimal data on gun purchases claim that some recent US massacres could have been prevented by the use of data analysis tools.
Collecting data on gun purchases is, of course, a hugely controversial issue, and even the idea of this is liable to irritate gun enthusiasts. That said, it is worth noting the situation we are currently in, where almost no data is collected at all. There is no national database of gun owners, and measures to implement one have always met with ferocious opposition. Most states don’t require a license to buy or own a gun.
By collecting small amounts of data on gun purchases, and using data tools to analyse this, it might be possible to flag potentially dangerous individuals.
Proponents of using Big Data in this waypoint to several recent shootings, and the purchasing …