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Quantifying the Data Deluge and the Data Drought

20 Pages Posted: 14 Jun 2017  

Martin Hilbert

University of California, Davis

Date Written: April 1, 2015


The world’s big data capacity can be understood in terms of the world’s storage capacity, and the telecommunication capacity to access this storage (‘the cloud’). In order to do this we mainly follow the methodology of what has become the standard reference in estimating the world’s technological information capacity: Hilbert and López (2011). This methodology has been adopted by others, including by the 2012 ITU report on “Measuring the Information Society” (Chapter 5; ITU, 2012). It shows that the world’s technological capacity to store information has increased with a compound annual growth rate of 31 % during the three decades between 1986 and 2014 (from 2.6 exabytes to 4.6 zettabytes), while the world’s installed telecommunication capacity has grown with a compound annual growth rate of 35 % during the same period, from 7.5 petabites to 25 exabits).

Suggested Citation

Hilbert, Martin, Quantifying the Data Deluge and the Data Drought (April 1, 2015). Available at SSRN:

Martin Hilbert (Contact Author)

University of California, Davis ( email )

One Shields Avenue
Davis, CA 95616
United States

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