Reports published by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface this month have focused on how cloud computing and big data solutions can be harnessed to assess the state of the job market in the UK and other countries. This can provide an overview of current levels of unemployment and other pertinent statistics long before official sources come to the same conclusions.
Ars Technia reports that this is made possible through the analysis of large amounts of data harvested from social media sites, as well as by assessing the mobile phone habits of millions of people nationwide.
So rather than waiting for bodies like the ONS in the UK to come to conclusions based on the data they glean from surveys, it may be possible for governments to get faster, more accurate predictions about the state of the economy and the number of people who are in work at any one time.
The additional benefit of using the cloud to carry out this kind of statistical analysis is that it reduces the time and expense involved in the more traditional methods of job market assessment.
The process of using anonymised social media and phone data has been developed as a result of test studies of historic examples of mass unemployment. And researchers were able to find correlations between activities on these platforms and the announcements of major layoffs at particular organisations.
This is another instance in which the flexibility and scalability of the cloud is advantageous, meaning that workloads that might otherwise overburden in-house solutions can be shifted to big data facilities and quickly be completed.
There are obviously ethical issues when it comes to using social media data, in spite of the fact that, for the most part, services likes Twitter are essentially a public platform for broadcast. But careful and appropriate use of the cloud is increasingly important across a range of industries.