The financial world has always been about extracting value from information. The difference today is the sheer proliferation of data which can be modelled by scientists armed with lots of computing power. This ranges from numerical price information (which might now be called traditional data) to more exotic datasets, such as satellite imagery or location data from mobile phone apps. The opening day of Newsweek's AI and data science in capital markets conference in New York began with a look at some new, "alternative" data sources and how these can be employed in a firm's trading strategy. Wall Street has been doing this for some time, and the game of beating benchmarks using a "mosaic of data sources is a closely guarded secret; once everybody on the street knows what you're doing, all the alpha gets sucked out of your strategy, according to conventional wisdom.
Shopping trip, school pick-up, medical appointment, first date, divorce court, or something even more personal--whenever you carry a mobile device and wherever you take it, chances are data about your location is being collected. Smartphone apps that are free to use on the basis that individuals find them desirable and therefore agree the apps can collect their location data seem to be reasonable, but exactly what data is collected, how it is used, and whether it is sold to third parties is a much bigger, darker picture that smartphone users are unlikely to see at first glance, and will only experience when their data is used for purposes far beyond their initial consent. With a stringent data privacy law expected to be introduced in California in January 2020, increasing litigation on the potential misuse or abuse of personal location data, and rising public awareness that smartphone apps are not necessarily what they seem to be, location data has become a hot, contentious topic. Frank Yoder, head of marketing at MightySignal, is a specialist in mobile app intelligence and the software development kits (SDKs) that are integrated in apps to perform anything from location data collection to in-app purchases and data monetization. Yoder says there are 43 location tracking SDKs for Apple iOS devices and 39 for Android devices.
While working to dig out space for a new traffic roundabout, construction workers in the small Massachusetts town of Northampton made a surprising discovery. Instead of dirt and rocks they found spearheads and stone tools dating as far back as 8,000 to 10,000 years, a period of North American history about which relatively little is known. After discovering the artifacts, the city hired an excavation firm, Archaeological and Historical Services, Inc. to do a thorough dig at the site. Over the course of the two-year dig, the archaeologists made a number of promising discoveries. In addition to the stone tools and spearheads, they found knives, fire pits, and raspberry and acorn seeds, which had been preserved by charring.
You don't even need to make a purchase or visit a website for data science companies to collect information about you. There are all kinds of public data, from property tax records to company and university information, aggregated through startups such as Enigma while Thasos and Reveal Mobile sell pedestrian geolocation data.
Amazon.com Inc.'s AMZN 0.30% year-old acquisition of Whole Foods is prompting the food industry to retool how it sells fresh food to consumers. The e-commerce giant agreed to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. last June for roughly $13.5 billion and closed the deal in August. Since then, Amazon has rolled out additional deals and delivery to Prime members. Companies, investors and analysts expect more changes as Amazon uses data capabilities to track what shoppers buy at the grocery chain and market to them. The deal has been "shaking up the food industry from top to bottom," said Angela Spivey, a food-and-beverage attorney at McGuireWoods LLP, who is advising clients on how to quickly change their packaging and marketing to sell at Amazon and Whole Foods.