Big Data vs. Little Data

In Tucson, we got monsoon rain overnight and it really helped control the Burro Fire which had grown to 27,000 acres in the mountains north of town.

Summerhaven is a small community at the top of Mount Lemon (5 miles from the fire). When I checked a hazard report for the village, the score for wildfire hazard was an “F”. Not surprising, as I remember when Summerhaven burned in 2003. But what about an underwriter who is in Boston, did they run that hazard report?

Big data providers are a fantastic asset in aggregating hazard and property information to provide instant insight on property anywhere. I was surprised to see that the same hazard provider showed our home in the city of Tucson, as high risk for lightning strike. Did not know that.

Give then a zip code, an algorithm and aggregated data from my social media feed….and my insurance carrier has granular insight about me and my property.

Beyond big data…what is missing? Where are the gaps? What information is still critical yet missing?

What about “little” data?

Last I checked, no one is flying drones inside a house and Google Street View does not get down into my basement. Yet.

It is great to know that there is a threat from wildfire or high winds. It is also great to know the quality and condition of the property on the interior and exterior. Things you don’t see from a satellite or a Cessna fly over.

Little data tells a big story. Is there old electric? Fuses? Are there railings installed? Is there a washer and dryer on the second story? Is there a business on the premises? What is the breed of the dog? What is the finish quality of the kitchen? Is the valuation accurate?

Big data is available with a few clicks and credit card. Little data can be obtained via self-service inspections completed by the policyholder on any residential or commercial property.

The bottom line is that in 24 hours you can bring together hazard data, property data, valuation, roof report and an interior inspection of the property, with just a web request.

Putting little data together with big data…how would that impact loss outcomes?


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