North Carolina is poised to become a national leader in big data collection – capitalizing on the ability to store, share and analyze large volumes of data. Data scientists from the UNC Charlotte, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University have combined efforts to create new ways of storing and analyzing data at their respective institutions through a cloud-based infrastructure. Data science is a rapidly growing field of commerce already worth billions of dollars, with applications for industries as diverse as banking, health care and technology.

Video Transcript for Big Data

UNC ROI: Research Opportunities Initiative
Produced By: Story Driven

Mike Lipps: The explosion of electronically stored information in this country lends itself very naturally to data science because it becomes the differentiator. Three and half billion dollars is just the legal industry. If you think about stepping back from that out into a variety of different industries, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how big the market is for data science.

Mirsad Hadzikadic, PhD: Every business today is a technology business and by definition is a data business. Data has become the new currency. What can we do about it?

Any and every device now is computer based. We can measure more things than we ever have been able to.

Shannon Schlueter, PhD: Myself as an example: I get up in the morning, and I hit my alarm clock, stand on my scale, and get in my car, and I take off. Pick the breakfast up, use a credit card on it, take the Fitbit, drop my kids off at school, put something on Facebook. Take that and multiply it by the population and you can see how we’re creating a significant amount of data.

The point behind all of it is taking the information that you can collect and that you can store and transforming that into business value.

Mirsad Hadzikadic, PhD: The ROI project that we received the funding for basically says we collect data from any and all sources. Then anybody from anyplace can access the data sets that are residing not in one place, but at these diverse institutions and in this case UNC Charlotte, NC State, and RENCI institution at Chapel Hill. 

Shannon Schlueter, PhD: All of our individual storage locations are now accessible from one to the other on the cloud-based infrastructure. We want people to be able to access the data sets; we want them to able to store their own data sets and collections. The researchers are now able to start using and taking advantage of that to perform the analytics on the same computers as where the data lives.

Mirsad Hadzikadic, PhD: The second element is that we want to encourage projects that use the data that we collect and the platform that we put in place that will help companies reduce risk that they are exposed to, so that we are more responsive to their needs.

Shannon Schlueter, PhD: We see that there is an extreme lack of data scientists out there. One of the ways we’ve started addressing that is to use these particular projects as on the job training, what we consider internship projects.

Mirsad Hadzikadic, PhD: For example, in the marketplace this ability to process data allows us to look at millions of credit card transactions and understand which ones are potentially fraudulent. We can look at tweets and see where the sentiment of the population is on any one subject. Now we can track the movement of epidemics on a minute by minute basis. How do we minimize our risk? You can do that with data.

Shannon Schlueter, PhD: So we’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve trained the students, we’re doing the interesting projects, and so now when we start to collaborate with the industries and the companies we have the resources that they need for that.

Mark Armstrong: This gives companies in North Carolina a leg up because they get to understand how to do big data in partnership with us, and that’s all because of the ROI funds.

Mike Lipps: There are companies like mine who have come to this area because of that reputation of being an up and coming technology and data science hub.

Mirsad Hadzikadic, PhD: In North Carolina right now, with these investments, is at the forefront, but it has to define that as its priority from now on.

Mark Armstrong: North Carolina has this opportunity at a high level to become one of those locations that, when people think of “where do I go to do big data analytics,” let’s go to North Carolina.

Researchers and Partners in Big Data

Mike Lipps
Managing Director, Legal Software Division

Mirsad Hadzikadic, PhD
Director, Complex Systems Institute, UNC Charlotte, College of Computing and Information

Shannon Schlueter, PhD
Data Scientist, UNC Charlotte Data Science Initiative

Mark Armstrong
Industry/ University Program Coordinator, UNC Charlotte Data Science Initiative