Crystal Balls and Data APIs – FlyCaster and Google Flu Trends see the future

19 Aug

FlightCaster launches, with the bold claim “Warning you of delays 6 hours before airline alerts”. SD Times has some good observations.

  1. FlightCaster was built fast to address a need. Faster than fast. Four months fast.
  2. FlightCaster is built on Hadoop.
  3. FlightCaster uses a JVM to run other languages, specifically Clojure.
  4. Its Hadoop cluster is hosted in Amazon’s cloud.
  5. The total costs to start this business came to less than seven digits.
  6. They use Cascading.
  7. The primary usecase includes a mobile app. But it would work in a mobile browser, anyway.
  8. FlightCaster is built on top of data feeds and existing data. Data is the primary resource used to build the business. Publicly available data, no less.
  9. Their secret sauce is using predictive AI for forecasting. FlightCaster actually uses AI to solve a real problem.

With projects like Guardian’s Data API and governments falling over themselves to finally open up data that was formally locked up in paper documents and weird closed formats like PDF and MS-Word, this trend can only continue.

Beating the official channels also reminds me of Google’s amazing flu trends product (http://www.google.org/flutrends/). Showing trends two weeks before the authorities notice it.

There are many implications for society, regulators, and investors here.

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