Big Data is big news these days and although many applications will no doubt be of benefit to us there will be plenty that will have exploitation as their main objective. An interesting application I heard about the other day was how data feeds on Social networks and other open data sources were being used to grab and analyse comments about the side effects of drugs. This enables a richer picture of the true side effects of drugs to be assimilated far more quickly than one could via traditional questionnaire’s. Of course one has to ask who is doing the analysis and what are they eventually using it for. If it is the drug companies themselves rather than an independent organisation then we still need to be worried. Nevertheless the potential is there for a clearer picture of end user drug experiences.

How does this all relate to racing you may ask. The other day I filled in an online questionnaire for a well know sporting information web site. It was fairly clear that they were keen to push their horse tracking alert facility. Questions like why are you not using it and do you know it’s free. This begs the question how many of you are using online external horse tracking alert services. Quite a few of you I would imagine and no doubt the more betting savvy amongst you. The average guy in the betting shop with his nose to the Racing Post is not focused in that position because he got an email alert this morning for a horse he marked three weeks ago as running well from a draw disadvantage against a pace bias. The question you should be asking yourself is what is happening to your data. That rich pool of horse alerts both negative and positive. Are they sitting harmlessly on a server somewhere at your beck and call and not for the data mining use of large bookmakers who no doubt would pay for a big data project mining this data. One associative of mine commented on a forum today that his IT expert friend found spyware from a bookmaking firm on his hard drive which he was blissfully unaware of.

My advice would be to switch to a horse tracking service that sits locally on your own PC or failing that use a service from a source that you can bet your house on will not sell the data on or attempt to mine it themselves. The bottom line could be that the price you get in a morning could be adversely effected by all our joint horse alerts and if that is the case you are going to be out of pocket. Perhaps some of you can suggest alternatives as comments to this blog.