The Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub has been awarded a four year, $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to continue its work in building cross-sector data science partnerships that address societal challenges, spur economic development, and accelerate big data innovation. The Northeast Hub was launched in 2015 with a grant from the NSF. This second round of funding validates the efforts of the Hub to harness the data revolution for social impact.
During its first three years of operations, the Northeast Hub built a network of more than 200 organizations throughout the Northeastern United States and beyond. Its activities fell under eight priority areas, ranging from data sharing to responsible data science. Initiatives have included collaborations across a number of application areas -- for example, to develop the first-ever exposome data warehouse integrating environmental exposure and clinical data for large-scale health research -- as well as efforts to develop resources helpful across application areas, such as a licensing model and ecosystem for data sharing.
Under this new round of funding, the Northeast Hub will place an emphasis on mission driven projects that coordinate and stimulate translational data science. For example, the Hub will work with its stakeholders on aggregating and helping to develop best practices for responsible data science; creating frameworks for data fluency; fostering better management of data security and privacy; integrating health data from traditional and novel sources; improving education through big data; and reducing barriers for data sharing within and between different sectors.
As a new service to the community, each Big Data Hub will maintain a seed fund for translational data science as part of its project budget. This fund will provide grants to pilot early feasibility studies for innovative new solutions to grand challenges of importance to the region
The Northeast Hub will also continue to collaborate with its six Big Data Spokes, project collaborations that focus on topics of specific interest to its region. The most recent Big Data Spokes were launched in 2018 -- a collaborative platform for computational social science, data-driven discovery and rational design in chemistry, and a series of community workshops addressing data integration of the ecological long tail.
Hosted by Columbia University's Data Science Institute, the Northeast Hub will be coordinated by Principal Investigator Jeannette M. Wing (Columbia University), Executive Director and Co-Principal Investigator René Bastón (Columbia University), Co-Principal Investigator James Hendler (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), Co-Principal Investigator Vasant Honavar (Penn State), and Co-Principal Investigator Andrew McCallum (University of Massachusetts at Amherst).
"The Big Data Hub has built an extensive network of data science experts and stakeholders from academia, industry and local government across the Northeast," said Wing. "Its coordinated efforts address important societal challenges, such as healthcare and education, faced by the region, from urban to rural environments. The new NSF grant will allow us to expand this work in two ways: first, by addressing cross-cutting themes on data privacy and data ethics, to ensure positive social impact; and second, by coordinating with the three other regional hubs toward a national network of data science institutions."