Business & Economy Science & Technology Society & Culture

UGA researchers join NSF’s South Big Data Hub

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia researchers will participate in a new initiative developed by the National Science Foundation called the South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub, which aims to solve some of the nation’s most pressing research and development challenges related to extracting knowledge and insights from large, complex collections of digital data.

Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute, members of the South Big Data Hub 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. Other hubs will operate in the Northeast, Midwest and Western U.S.

“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 (Big Data) 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.”

The South Big Data Hub will 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.

“Researchers in many diverse disciplines are accumulating unprecedented volumes of data, but trying to derive knowledge that is buried in all this data is a bit like searching for needles in a haystack,” said Lakshmish Ramaswamy, associate professor of computer science in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and a South Big Data Hub co-investigator. “This initiative will foster collaborations that will help us extract information from these mountains of data so that we can develop solutions to complex problems in multiple domains.”

The South Big Data 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.

For more information on the Big Data Regional Hubs Initiative, visit