Crowd-sourced genealogy is a growing social activity that links family trees across multiple generations and lost connections. Using powerful logarithms to sift through related databases, services like Geni.com will determine if Barack Obama is your cousin, 14 times removed.
In a sense, the asset management software being deployed today by food and beverage companies also is striving to use big data to map the family tree of machines and other equipment in the plant. No longer is it enough to generate work orders and alerts for the next scheduled maintenance update. Everything from uptime performance to lifecycle cost assessment is being jammed into one, comprehensive record.
Even when the records exist in electronic form, they typically reside in multiple databases. Absent a Geni-like logarithm, pooling those records for easy access is a challenge that frustrates engineers and makes systems integrators rich. Fortunately, the situation is changing.