Texas A&M named partner in national effort that applies big data solutions to regional challenges

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The Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) will co-direct a new, national effort to develop a Big Data Regional Innovation Hub serving 16 Southern states and the District of Columbia. Texas A&M University is a partner supporting the development of the South Hub. 

“Academic institutions across the world are addressing grand challenges facing society. In every case, there is an extraordinary amount of digital data that must be stored, analyzed and shared,” said M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of Texas A&M Engineering.  “We are pleased to be a partner in this initiative because collectively, we can leverage our strengths and achieve big data solutions faster, which accelerates discovery in the labs and transfer of those solutions to the field.”

Duffield"Texas A&M University is well positioned to contribute to the success of the South Big Data Hub due to its strength in areas of science and engineering in which applications of Big Data are crucial" said Dr. Nick Duffield, director of the Texas A&M Engineering Big Data Initiative, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and the Texas A&M senior personnel in the Hub partnership. “Through its academic departments, research institutes and regional network of connections to the industry and government sectors, Texas A&M aims to promote interdisciplinary and cross-sector partnerships that can bring exciting advances in big data systems and methods to applications that will benefit people throughout the region.”

The South BD Hub will serve the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. It will be developed in three phases: an initial bootstrap phase that will establish the basic governance structure; a transitional phase that will move toward an operational structure; and a final operational phase. It will have dual locations in Atlanta and the Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina, with co-executive directors who will be accountable to Hub partners.

Initial NSF funding for the South BD Hub will be $1.25 million over three years. In addition to the South BD Hub, the NSF has funded Hubs in the Northeast, Midwest, and Western U.S., which are managed by universities in those regions.

Each of the NSF BD Hubs will engage businesses and research organizations in their region to develop common big data goals that would be impossible for individual members to achieve alone. The Hubs will develop community-driven governance structures as well as “spoke projects” based on regional priorities and partnerships.

Initial spokes of the South BD Hub will aim to apply big data analysis to scientific and social issues in five areas:

  • Health Care, including disparities in health, access to health care, and health outcomes, precision medicine and health analytics.
  • Coastal Hazards, including understanding and mitigating the consequences of natural and manmade disasters.
  • Industrial Big Data, including cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, data-driven management of physical infrastructure, and power generation, transmission and distribution from a variety of sources.
  • Materials and Manufacturing, including data-driven contributions to the materials genome initiative and bridging the gap between materials science and manufacturing practice.
  • Habitat Planning, including urban infrastructure, smart cities efforts, transportation, rural-urban infrastructure, and wildlife habitat and conservation.

 “The BD Hubs program represents a unique approach to improving the impact of data science by establishing partnerships among likeminded stakeholders,” said Jim Kurose, NSF’s head of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “In doing so, it enables teams of data science researchers to come together with domain experts, with cities and municipalities, and with anchor institutions to establish and grow collaborations that will accelerate progress in a wide range of science and education domains with the potential for great societal benefit.”

For more information on the Big Data Regional Hubs Initiative, see the NSF news release and http://www.southbdhub.org/