Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

New local momentum for data analytics

Data analytics is not a new concept, and is certainly not new to Queen’s researchers – in fact, research and data analysis go hand-in-hand.

[Data Analytics]
Scott Lougheed, a graduate student in the School of Environmental Studies, presents his perspectives on effective data management to a full crowd in Douglas Library at Data Day.

What is new with data, however, is its volume, velocity and variety (a notion often referred to as the three Vs). Some even add a couple more Vs – veracity and vulnerability.  

With information hurtling towards us like never before, and not wanting to waste a bit, the risk is that we are buried in a pile of numbers without the capacity to derive meaning from them. What do we do with all this “big data?”  

Equally importantly, in a world of increasing accountability, there must be an open conversation regarding how data are collected, stored, analyzed, and shared.

“The talent at Queen’s is tremendous. Researchers from all disciplines are asking some very interesting research questions – data heavy research questions – and collectively, we have the expertise to answer them, and to manage our data responsibly,” says Don Aldridge, Senior Advisor to the Vice-Principal (Research). “For the sake of efficiency, it really makes sense to collect these experts together to talk about what we do best, or what is or isn’t working in terms of digital infrastructure, process, and policy.” 

This strategy is reflected in the recently approved Data, Analytics and Computing research group. The group provides a forum for those interested in advanced computing and analytics, digital infrastructure and data and held its kick-off event in May. The interdisciplinary executive team includes Jim McLellan (Engineering), Pat Martin (School of Computing), Chris Ferrall (Economics) and John Fisher (Health Sciences).

The new local momentum in the world of data analytics can be seen in the coordination of a variety of events and initiatives that are intended to encourage the exchange of ideas and sharing of best practices and knowledge on how scholars manage data.  

The second annual Data Day, hosted jointly by the Library, IT Services and the Vice-Principal (Research) portfolio, raised awareness of the services available at Queen’s to help researchers manage their data and make it accessible to, and reusable by, the wider community. New Library and IT services will serve expanding initiatives at the local, provincial and national levels, including data management plans being required by Tri-Council agencies.

The High Performance Computing Virtual Laboratory (HPCVL) recently hosted a symposium, held in Ottawa, on Advanced Computing and Analytics in Medical Research to discuss opportunities for how data can be processed, integrated, federated, stored and analyzed for the understanding of diseases and their potential treatments.  This event was attended by professionals from across Ontario, and presentations ranged from the security of electronic medical records to clinical interventions based on real time analytics, to novel bioinformatic approaches on the clinical utility of tissue biomarkers.