Information is power and it’s measured in terabytes
The world is generating data at an unprecedented rate. Scientists, business executives, bankers, healthcare workers, librarians, engineers, advertisers and governments are increasingly faced with challenges in data management — how to capture, store, analyze, share or visualize information.
The complexities of handling large amounts of data present both major burdens and opportunities. Whether it is to make a more accurate meteorological forecast, decide on a financial investment, or determine a patient’s best course of treatment, the power of big data will have transformative effects on our society.
To set the pace, Concordia aims to instill an appreciation among students across all faculties of the critical importance and power of data. While big data is typically examined strictly as a computational challenge, our approach is the first to tackle big data questions from a broader, interdisciplinary perspective.
Our plan will:
Launch an institute for unstructured data analytics: Most large datasets lack structure and cannot be stored in a traditional database. Clicks, likes, photos, audio files and text cannot be described in a fixed schema or even stored at a central location.
Respond to the rise of the big data era: Demand for talent in data science is growing rapidly. Teaching and research programs that train engineering and computer science students for the reality of the big data economy are needed for society to keep up. Academic experts in the field will be increasingly sought after by government and industry to provide the latest research.
Lead in the data visualization and “sensualisation” movement: How data is translated from terabytes, extracted and brought to life represents an exciting avenue. It is an endeavour that necessitates collaboration, including contributions from arts students. Engineering and computer science students must learn how to represent information to non-technical professionals.
Develop Canada’s leading social sciences and humanities data repository: Like other large research universities, we are a major contributor to producing society’s data. We believe we have a social responsibility to store this data in a sustainable and accessible manner. SAGA: Temporal Media Research Repository is Concordia Library’s cutting-edge solution to preserve and catalogue the volumes of data created by today’s researchers — from Concordia and beyond.
Create a central storage for medical and health data: Concordia’s PERFORM Centre is leveraging its unique platforms to build an integrated database to deal with a variety of organs and modalities, including bio-imaging, biospecimens, brain computer interfaces, as well as cardiac stress testing and biomechanics. This database will enable a wealth of new research studies about lifestyle and preventive health.
To cope with unstructured data, new algorithms and suitable infrastructures are needed. Our institute for unstructured data analytics will advance both data mining and machine learning and new techniques, such as deep learning as well as neural networks.
Major impact on the future of society
The race to manage big data is driven largely by its enormous potential economic value. Predictive analytics — statistical techniques such as predictive modeling, machine learning and data mining — use big data to forecast future or otherwise unknown events. It represents a $1.5 billion market in Canada alone and is expected to double by 2020. The implications are widespread.
Your support of our development of a Big Data Analytics Hub at Concordia will:
Train tomorrow’s talent in big data: Big data is becoming an increasingly urgent problem. Students who have greater data literacy will have a leg up in employment opportunities. Graduate students with specialized training in big data management will be highly sought after.
Create the first multidisciplinary academic approach to tackle big data: Our cross-disciplinary approach to data will emphasize its actual broader applications — from the fine arts to the humanities, engineering, and computer science.
Foster an appreciation of the ethical concerns surrounding big data: Our holistic approach to dealing with big data will help address important questions regarding the transparency of data, anonymity and who can access what and with what goal. These questions are not purely theoretical. They will have profound real-world implications once big data is exploited to its potential.
Multiply research: By making meaningful data accessible to a wide pool of academics we can support Concordia’s goal to double our research while assisting all Canadian researchers to strengthen their work.
Help us confront big data head on
Future issues associated with big data will require collaboration from a variety
of experts across disciplines and across institutions. Concordia is ready to take a leadership role on this front though we need your support.