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Answers to some of the most important problems affecting society are nestled in massive mounds of data awaiting analysis.

A new initiative that addresses that challenge was announced Monday, with the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences—a partnership between the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory—serving as one of the founding organizations and participants.

The National Science Foundation chose Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina’s Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) to co-direct a new Big Data Regional Innovation Hub serving sixteen southern states and the District of Columbia.

The South Big Data Regional Innovation Hub—jointly housed at Georgia Tech and UNC Chapel Hill—is part of NSF’s Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs, an initiative that addresses regional challenges through data analysis.

JICS will contribute its big data expertise relative to research and development, as well as its computing and educational resources and facilities, said Edmon Begoli, JICS chief data officer and co-principal investigator for the South BD Hub.

Upcoming projects cover diverse fields:

  • Health care: disparities, care, and outcomes; precision medicine; genomics
  • Coastal hazards: understanding and mitigating natural and human-caused disasters
  • Industrial big data: cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, data-driven management of infrastructure such as utilities
  • Materials and manufacturing: bridging the gap between materials science and manufacturing practice
  • Habitat planning: smart cities, transportation, rural-urban infrastructure, and wildlife habitats.

“JICS will bring to bear the resources available to it through its academic, industrial, and research partnerships, including the University of Tennessee system and ORNL,” said Begoli, who has been a member of the South BD Hub’s leadership team since its inception.

Srinivas Aluru, co-principal investigator for the South BD Hub and a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Computational Science and Engineering, said the project would allow the bringing together of data in a complementary way for better problem solving in the region’s communities.

“It is already initiating new collaboration and dialogue among many large stakeholders in a way that would not have happened otherwise,” he added.

By focusing on some of the most pressing concerns of our time, the project will be at the forefront of using data for the public good, said Ashok Krishnamurthy, co-principal investigator for South BD Hub and deputy director at RENCI.

The South BD Hub will serve Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Initial funding for the South BD Hub is $1.25 million over three years.


Scott Gibson (865-206-6400,