Explosive Growth for Digital Universe

For the first time, the “digital shadow” — the amount of digital information being generated about people — surpasses the amount they create themselves. And the “digital universe” is bigger than estimated due to the explosion of digital cameras, digital television sets, surveillance cameras and social networks.

This information comes our way via a study conducted by the International Data Corp. (IDC) for EMC Corp.

The “digital universe” in 2007 was equal to almost 45 gigabytes of digital information for every person on Earth — the equivalent of more than 17 billion 8-gigabyte iPhones. Other fast-growing corners of the digital universe include those related to Internet access in emerging countries, sensor-based applications, data centers supporting “cloud computing,” and social networks composed of digital content created by millions of online users.

“The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe: An Updated Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2011” is a new whitepaper that indicates:

>> At 281 billion gigabytes (281 exabytes), the digital universe in 2007 was 10 percent bigger than originally estimated.

>> With a compound annual growth rate of almost 60 percent, the digital universe is growing faster and is projected to be nearly 1.8 zettabytes (1,800 exabytes) in 2011, a 10-fold increase over the next five years.

>> The information explosion — in raw gigabytes — is predominately visual: images, camcorder clips, digital TV signals and surveillance streams.

>> Approximately 70 percent of the digital universe is created by individuals, yet enterprises are responsible for the security, privacy, reliability and compliance of 85 percent.

>> Thanks to VoIP, sensors and RFID, the number of electronic information “containers” is growing 50 percent faster than the number of gigabytes. The information created in 2011 will be contained in more than 20 quadrillion (20 million billion) of such containers.

 >> “E-waste” is accumulating at more than 1 billion units a year — mobile phones, personal digital electronics and PCs. Spurred by the switch to digital TV, the waste pile will double by 2011

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