Industry leaders, academics move to put Pittsburgh at forefront of 'big data' movement
By Kim Leonard
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Academic, corporate and development leaders gathered Thursday night in Oakland to kick off Pittsburgh Dataworks, the city's first step to promote itself as a hub for advancing “big data” as a business tool and career specialty.
The consortium has an office in the Rev Oakland business incubator but no dedicated staff. It will focus on teaching businesses the benefits of using tools that make sense of fast-multiplying amounts of information, said Bob Monroe, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business.
Big data, which has emerged as a business buzz phrase, could revolutionize fields from medicine to retail to intelligence through online messages, experts say.
Pieces of data are created every time someone uses a smartphone to search the Internet, updates a Facebook page or consults a global positioning system to find a destination, said Monroe, a member of the consortium's technical board of advisers.
With all that technology use, databases contain thousands of times the information they once did. Although modern devices leave data trails, the pieces are less structured because “they include video, audio, GPS trails, Tweets and Facebook posts,” for example, he said.
Traditional tools for sorting and working with data can't keep up, so companies such as NetApp, a maker of giant data storage systems with a center in Cranberry, are creating more powerful ones, he said.
Carnegie Mellon, seeing a “substantial need from companies that come recruiting” at its business, computer science and statistics program in its humanities college, is expanding its coursework around big data, Monroe said.
IBM representatives in Pittsburgh proposed forming the consortium, which is based on an organization called hack/reduce in Cambridge, Mass.
“Pittsburgh has the right assets: universities and many great companies,” said Jerome Pesenti, chief scientist for big data with IBM.
Reasons to establish the organization include technical training, helping companies use and analyze new databases, and sharing career opportunities.
“The demand far outpaces the supply” of professionals qualified to work in big data, said Saman Haqqi, product director of big data marketing for IBM.
Thursday's event at the University Club featured a Big Data Showcase with initiatives by established and new companies and academic institutions.
Examples: Pitt medical researcher Adrian Lee, with a personalized medicine tool that looks at symptoms, treatment and outcomes for thousands of cases; IBM, with its InfoSphere Data Explorer for data tracking; QuantMD LLC, with a tool for visualizing large medical data systems; and Civicscience, a market research company that polls consumers via websites and social media sites.
Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- More women seize opportunities to start businesses
- Meat prices drain barbecue budgets
- Pandora sued by record companies
- Salad dressing company manages growth
- Low pay, commutes among top stressors
- Lawsuit challenges Hollywood standard of unpaid internships
- Retailers tailor store experience to phones
- Record cold facilitates coal’s comeback
- Investment in Western Pa. startups reaches 5-year high
- Pa. unemployment rate falls to lowest since 2008; 12,000 more enter workforce
- Squeezed by competition, Chobani to expand offerings