For years, financial, retail and other companies have been investigating how to collect, analyze, merge and leverage data to drive efficiencies and provide new services. But railroads are relatively new to the Big Data analytics party. Yet, they’re finding some ways to leverage the mountains of data they’re collecting to better manage operations, improve safety and bolster security.Railroads are monitoring field operations, hiring data scientists and learning to merge and analyze data to answer specific questions about their operations.Trade Press Media Group Vice President of Content Development Renee Bassett learned that and more while attending the Big Data in Rail Maintenance Planning conference in Delaware late last year. Held Dec. 15-16 in Newark, the event was conducted by the University of Delaware’s Big Data Center and its Railway Engineering and Safety Program.Bassett shares the conference’s highlights in an article now appearing in our February issue. She also provides additional info in three sidebars: the FRA’s take on embracing data to improve safety; several definitions of Big Data; and ways to think like a data scientist.Any thoughts on railroads’ efforts to embrace Big Data analytics? Any examples to share? Please use the comment section below to join in on a Big Data discussion.