SFU's Big Data Initiative

Big Data are generated all around us—from the apps on our phones, to the marketplace where we shop, to the books in our libraries, to the energy grid that powers our houses, to the world’s most powerful particle accelerator at CERN. Around the globe, the amount of information generated grows exponentially each year, but our ability to access, analyze, and effectively use this information is lagging. There are tremendous opportunities—and urgent needs—for data-intensive research and academic programming in this area for the benefit of our communities, and to close a critical talent gap.

Earlier this spring, SFU embarked on a university-wide Big Data initiative to build our strengths in this field, and make our capabilities accessible to all stakeholders. In March 2016, SFU’s Board of Governors approved the budget for this initiative, and we are now in a position to move forward.

The Big Data Initiative is for the entire university community. Discover how we can increase our research computing capacity and support core computing capabilities to help transform your research and academic studies in innovative ways.

Imagine the Possibilities 

By building on our strategic investments in advanced computing expertise and infrastructure, we can:

  • Engage our students in data-intensive research to expand their analytical capacities and meet a significant talent gap.
  • Strengthen our educational, innovation, and entrepreneurship activities in Big Data to position SFU as a driver of positive social and economic impacts.
  • Create a recognizable cluster of Big Data expertise that supports world-class research across all disciplines, and trains the next generation of research leaders.
  • Build partnerships and communities of practice for data-intensive research to creatively solve diverse problems.
  • Transform The IRMACS Centre into a core computing facility for this initiative by integrating IT Services into one-stop hub that makes it easy for all researchers to access our digital research infrastructure and receive support and dedicated training.

Through these activities, we aim to continue to support the computing needs of all SFU stakeholders and build our capacity in this field.

The Next Steps

Moving forward, we will be providing monthly updates to the SFU community. We invite your ideas and comments as we develop the Big Data plan. Connect with us at sfu_bigdata@sfu.ca, tell us your needs through our survey, and join the #bigdata conversation with @SFUResearch. We look forward to continuing to work with the community to move this initiative forward.