Data, Big Data, and Metadata in Anesthesiology

Anesth Analg. 2015 Dec;121(6):1661-7. doi: 10.1213/ANE.0000000000000716.


The last decade has seen an explosion in the growth of digital data. Since 2005, the total amount of digital data created or replicated on all platforms and devices has been doubling every 2 years, from an estimated 132 exabytes (132 billion gigabytes) in 2005 to 4.4 zettabytes (4.4 trillion gigabytes) in 2013, and a projected 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) in 2020. This growth has been driven in large part by the rise of social media along with more powerful and connected mobile devices, with an estimated 75% of information in the digital universe generated by individuals rather than entities. Transactions and communications including payments, instant messages, Web searches, social media updates, and online posts are all becoming part of a vast pool of data that live "in the cloud" on clusters of servers located in remote data centers. The amount of accumulating data has become so large that it has given rise to the term Big Data. In many ways, Big Data is just a buzzword, a phrase that is often misunderstood and misused to describe any sort of data, no matter the size or complexity. However, there is truth to the assertion that some data sets truly require new management and analysis techniques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesiology / statistics & numerical data*
  • Anesthesiology / trends*
  • Databases, Factual / trends*
  • Electronic Data Processing / methods
  • Electronic Data Processing / trends
  • Humans
  • Internet / trends*
  • Statistics as Topic / methods
  • Statistics as Topic / trends*