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Business-intelligence technology is typically used to derive meaning and make decisions from data like sales, costs and other corporate trends. But what could BI tell us about the ongoing crisis in Japan?

That was the question that popped to the minds of the people at Extended Results, a business-intelligence consulting firm in Redmond (and the same company that came up with a business collaboration application for the Microsoft Kinect sensor).

A Microsoft-focused shop, they used tools including Access, Excel and PowerPivot in conjunction with a USGS data feed to pull together and analyze the seismic data coming out of Japan.

See the Extended Results blog for the technical background on the project, and the data analysis — looking at variables including magnitude, number, time of day and depth of the quakes. This screenshot from their Excel spreadsheet provides a sense for what they came up with.

(You can also download the Excel file from this post.)

After seeing it laid out like that, “the impact of the earthquake hit us straight in the head,” writes Patrick Husting, the company’s president, in one of the posts. “The number of earthquakes are unbelievable and basically the whole country is in a state of shaking.”

Next up, they plan to data from financial markets and social media.

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