Taxonomy is the science of classification – typically and most commonly, classifying organisms. The science of naming, describing and classifying organisms and includes all plants, animals and microorganisms of the world. Using morphological, behavioral, genetic and biochemical observations, taxonomists identify, describe and arrange species into classifications, including those that are new to science.

Since the turn of the century, a group of scientists has attempted to classify species by sequencing DNA from a specific region inside mitochondria, the energy production centers of cells.

This DNA barcoding doesn’t work for all forms of life, most especially plants. It does, however, work exceedingly well for animals. In a 2016 study, researchers used mitochondrial DNA to classify bird species then compared their results with those of traditional methods. The two classification systems agreed in 94% of cases.

The rapid growth of emerging applications and the evolution of cloud computing technologies have significantly enhanced the capability to generate vast amounts of data. This use of big data in classification has the potential to infuse taxonomy with a measure of objectivity.

It has long been a challenge in this big data era to manage voluminous amounts of data. Recent advancements in big data techniques and technologies have enabled many enterprises to handle big data efficiently. With focus on big data management, feasible techniques of managing big data need to be developed with an emphasis on storage, pre-processing, processing and security.

Power is knowledge, and therefore, many organizations are unwilling to share with others the data they collect, because they consider it valuable as a competitive advantage. At the same time, for many organizations, it would be very efficient if they could have easy access to databases of other organizations and could use available data for all kinds of purposes. Technological barriers may consist of databases in different forms that cannot be coupled easily, and legal barriers may consist of privacy issues and intellectual property issues.

There is value in big data and it is not in the mere data collected, but in the insights deduced from it. As the focus of the data industry is shifting towards its value-adding reuse, organizations want more focus on how data might be used rather than limit what data can be collected.

By organizing all data in a single way, the overall usability of knowledge systems increases considerably. A taxonomy forces system designers to classify metadata fields to content categories. A list of metadata values is then defined to populate each field in-line with the taxonomy.

Using a consistent taxonomy for content storage helps an enterprise understand the information it holds as well as that which is missing.

Melody K. Smith

Sponsored by Data Harmony, a unit of Access Innovations, the world leader in indexing and making content findable.