Expanding Digital Universe: A Forecast of Worldwide Information Growth Through 2010

EMC Corporation has sponsored a very ambitious, groundbreaking study that attempts for the first time to measure and forecast the amounts and types of digital information created and copied throughout the world, and whether it is generated by indivuals or buisnesses. The findings of this study could have significant implications for individuals, businesses, information professionals and society as a whole and thereby provide useful insights to librarians and other information professionals.

The basic findings of this Study have been summarized as follows:

The 2006 digital universe was 161 billion gigabytes (161 exabytes) in size.

IDC projects a six fold annual information growth from 2006 to 2010.

While nearly 70% of the digital universe will be generated by individuals by 2010, organizations will be responsible for the security, privacy, reliability and compliance of at least 85% of the information.

Images – Images, captured by more than 1 billion devices in the world, from digital cameras and camera phones to medical scanners and security cameras, comprise the largest component of the digital universe.

Digital Cameras – The number of images captured on consumer digital still cameras in 2006 exceeded 150 billion worldwide, while the number of images captured on cell phones hit almost 100 billion. IDC is forecasting the capture of more than 500 billion images by 2010.

Camcorders – Camcorder usage should double in total minutes of use between now and 2010.

E-mail – The number of e-mail mailboxes has grown from 253 million in 1998 to nearly 1.6 billion in 2006. During the same period, the number of e-mails sent grew three times faster than the number of people e-mailing; in 2006 just the e-mail traffic from one person to another – i.e., excluding spam – accounted for 6 exabytes.

Instant Messaging – There will be 250 million IM accounts by 2010, including consumer accounts from which business IMs are sent.

Broadband – Today over 60% of Internet users have access to broadband circuits, either at home, at work or at school.

Internet – In 1996 there were only 48 million people routinely using the Internet. The Worldwide Web was just two years old. By 2006, there were 1.1 billion users on the Internet. By 2010, IDC expects another 500 million users to come online.

Unstructured Data – Over 95% of the digital universe is unstructured data. In organizations, unstructured data accounts for more than 80% of all information.

Compliance and Security – Today, 20% of the digital universe is subject to compliance rules and standards and about 30% is potentially subject to security applications.

Classification – IDC estimates that today less than 10% of organizational information is “classified,” or ranked according to value. IDC expects the amount of classified data to grow better than 50% a year.

Emerging Economies – These now account for 10% of the digital universe but will grow 30-40% faster than mature economies.

For law librarians it would be interesting if in updated versions of this Study EMC Corporation could include factors related to the authentication of information in digital formats
Much of the data contained in this Study is highly revevant to librarians, especially those librarians and other administrators responsible for planning and policy development related to library organization, collection development (including virtual collections), and adapting library services to accodate emerging technologies.

To download either the complete paper or the executive summary, click here and select the appropriate file.

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