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UNF Partner in Leading Effort Applying Big Data Solutions to Regional Challenges

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The University of North Florida is one of 116 stakeholders from academia, industry and the nonprofit sectors that were selected through a competitive process to participate in the proposal, initiation and strategic planning for the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub (South BD Hub.)


The Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) will co-direct this new, national effort to develop a Big Data Regional Innovation Hub, serving 16 Southern states and the District of Columbia. Initial National Science Foundation (NSF) funding for the South BD Hub will be $1.5 million over three years.


“We are proud of our participation and being part of a prestigious group of institutions that will lead the strategic planning for the Hub,” said Dr. Sherif Elfayoumy, UNF’s School of Computing director, FIS Distinguished Professor and one of 29 co-investigators on the NSF awarded proposal. “The Hub will bring economic development opportunities to the Northeast Florida region and will accelerate the development of advanced interdisciplinary degrees in data analytics at UNF.”


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


UNF’s participation in the Hub activities will enable the formation of partnerships with other organizations from the Southern region aimed at studying some scientific and social issues in the areas of health care, coastal hazards, industrial systems, materials/manufacturing and habitat planning through the analysis of big datasets and leveraging the expertise of University professors.


The South BD Hub—to be managed jointly by Georgia Tech and UNC-Chapel Hill—is part of the National Science Foundation ’s four Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs announced today. The new initiative aims to build innovative public-private partnerships that address regional challenges through big data analysis.


“The award of the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub provides the right context for collaboration among 116 stakeholders in academia, industry and the nonprofit sectors, which will allow us to—for the first time—address large-scale challenges facing many Southern states,” said Srinivas Aluru , co-principal investigator at Georgia Tech and professor in the School of Computational Science and Engineering. “


In addition to Florida, the SouthBD Hub will serve the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, 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 boot-strap phase that will establish the basic governance structure; a transitional phase that will move toward an operational structure; and a final operational phase.


The South BD Hub team will put to use lessons learned in developing the National Consortium for Data Science, a public-private partnership to address big data issues launched by RENCI in 2013. In addition, RENCI will leverage its expertise in technology and software development to manage big data sharing within the South BD Hub and collaboration with other regional hubs.


“The U.S. has the opportunity to lead the world in the application of Big Data to a variety of problems of critical importance,” said Jim Kurose, NSF’s assistant head of Computer and Information Science and Engineering. “The BD Hubs program represents a unique approach to improving the impact of data science by breaking through silos and establishing partnerships among likeminded stakeholders. In doing so, it enables leading scholars and institutions to develop collaborations that will accelerate progress in a wide range of scientific, educational, and social and economic domains with the potential for great societal benefit.”


For more information on the Big Data Regional Hubs Initiative, see the NSF news release and .

UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.