Data Mining: What is it?
As more and more of our lives are affected by interacting with databases and “cloud” storage, concerns have been raised about data mining.
These keywords, data mining, databases, “cloud” storages have been in recent events for better or worse. As news such as My Health Record data starting to be stored into an online database, the Australians are divided into opting out including some of The Federal Government members or encouraging the new system. What exactly are these words, and why is Australia seeing this change to be polarising?
Many definitions state that data mining is the process of extracting trends and patterns within large data sets. It incorporates quantitative techniques deriving from mathematical methods. This may include using equations, algorithms, logistic regression, neural network segmentation, etc. Utilizing these techniques, the information can be manipulated to make predictions of future trends and patterns.
For example, data mining is used in supermarkets and retailers. The customers purchase products and data is sent to the database of the market. The data is then analysed to predict sales trend, thus increase revenue.
In general, data mining involves the following three steps:
Exploration. Data is identified and organised into another form.
Pattern Identification. Choosing a pattern (data mining) that will exploit the best prediction.
Deployment. The patterns are used to get the desired outcome.
Further steps may be involved depending on the type of data and other factors.
According to some online sources, some of the common techniques in data mining are:
Decision trees. This technique classifies and makes predictions based on what branch of paths are taken. Starting with a simple question, the answers then creates another question, eventually leading to identifying the data for categorising. This can also be used to make predictions depending on the answers.
Clustering analysis. Sometimes called segmentation, this process identifies data that are similar to each other. For instance, a supermarket can group its customers based on their products purchased.
Neural network segmentations. This process uses artificial intelligence or deep learning to predict outcomes of things. In general terms, a neural network is a basic system of a brain, using nodes to connect functions and networks.
The Positives Aspects of Data Mining
Data mining has its advantages. With careful and correct use of data mining, can be used for various reasons.
As previously mentioned, data mining can be used in marketing. Understanding the customers’ demands and identifying consumer trends can be used to predict what products should have their prices increased or decreased.
Finance. Because of the ability to predict a trend through statistical analysis, this can be manipulated to increase revenue.
With association with My Health Records starting to be stored online, mining data to care for patients is easier and accessible.
The Negative Aspects of Data Mining
However, there are obvious disadvantages as well.
Privacy. The main concern that the currents events have is privacy. The major risk that comes with having say, medical records being online may feel unsafe and too much information to reveal even if the data is kept secured. With data mining, people who can access the database can whether it’s for malicious use or not, is able to access the private data. This overlaps the problem of misuse of information. The data from mining can be used for malicious or unethical purposes.
Security. Another problem with anything to do with online databases. Continuing with My Health Records, the citizens are given to opt-out because of the worries of the security of their information. The private data stored online is susceptible to hacker breaching through security measures making anything unsafe and cannot guarantee protection.
An example of data mining being used harmfully is Singapore’s health database being stolen. The cyberattack occurred recently (July 20, 2018) illegally hacking into personal information of 1.5 million people including the Prime Minister. The government called it “the most serious breach of personal data.”
Databases and “Cloud” Storages
Sources have defined that a database is a collection of information stored into organised tables. It is accessible and is capable of managing many data. It is an electronic system that allows data to be easily accessed, manipulated and updated. In a traditional sense, they are the libraries for books.
For example, a database can be applied with supermarkets stocks. Data of the stocks for products can easily be managed using databases that records and updates daily.
Cloud storages are online storages that users can store their own data. Using a network, a user can upload and view their data in the cloud storage. The cloud storages are handled by a server and usually provided by a provider. One of the most well known cloud storage providers is Google Drive. They allow users to store data on their servers. As for security and privacy, these providers endeavour to improve, using methods such as encryption and authentication.
Current events in Australia
In the recent news involving data mining and online databases, Australia is encouraging their citizens to have their My Health Record stored in an online database.
Health insurer Medibank says it wants to “become a broader health company”, revealing it has dedicated nurses for customer support to increase the rate of its delivery of health advice to people.
When My Health Records are recorded into the database, it becomes accessible to doctors and nurses. This makes treating patients with the correct medications easier and quicker than using paper-based healthcare. The system benefits those who have complex medical issues. It is easier to them knowing completely what medication needs to be given.
The system is supposed that it will reduce medication errors also. Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) claims that as many as 230,000 Australians every year, they are mistakenly sent to the hospital due to medication errors. They believe that the electronic system will reduce this rate.
Some may argue that the using the online database is more secure over time. Using paper documents becomes questionable over time since it can be lost and damaged. While the database can be restored and upgraded whenever needed.
However, because of the privacy and security concerns surrounding this new system, the Federal Government has given a chance for people to opt-out and not have their medical records stored.
Some of the doctors like Dr Merkel is worried by design that, My Health Records is available to more practitioners than before. He mentions that while this change has clinical benefits (as previously pointed,) it creates more opportunities for something to go wrong.
As of now, the government has separated the country with the new electronic system, capable of managing the My Health Records. A majority of doctors and health workers encourage this change because of the benefits it brings. That is, faster support, accessibility, reducing medication errors, and arguably security over time. The main concern is the privacy of their own health information online (even if private) and the risks associated. Overall, it is vital to understand what data mining and databases are in order to fully comprehend the changes to the country.