South Big Data Innovation Hub's Year of Success

Renata Rawlings-Goss was elected chair of the National Big Data Hub Coordination Committee representing all four Big Data Hubs to the National Science Foundation. Rawlings-Goss serves as the Executive Director of the South Big Data Innovation Hub whose mission is to connect the data science ecosystem across 16 southern states.  The South Big Data Innovation Hub comprises more than 1300 members drawn from 290 participating academic, industry, governmental labs, and non-profit organizations in the region.
 
The South Hub collaborates and supports 6 Spoke projects designed to use data science and data analytics to address challenges related to healthcare, environmental sustainability, updating and improving power grids, privacy and data ethics, and student training and education. These multi-stakeholder projects conceived by Hub member are often co- funded by the NSF under the rubric of BD Spokes constitute the hub and spokes ecosystem.
 
Since inception, the South Hub and Spoke ecosystem received ~$8.5 million from the NSF, $750K in cloud credits from Microsoft, and additional funding from industry and government to support its programs. The South Hub operates by collective impact workshops, creating working groups, launching spoke projects, producing authoritative reports, and developing programs to increase the capacity for data science education and workforce in the South.
 
Over the life of the project, more than 8,000 individuals from these entities have been awarded grants and fellowships to further the Hub goals by developing cross-cutting research projects, presenting lectures and workshops in data sciences, and participating in more than 180 programs and virtual or in-person meetings.
 
Community input from the Education & Workforce Development Working Group fostered the creation of numerous opportunities, including the DataUp program, to address the ever-growing need to educate or retrain the workforce in data science, as well as increase data literacy.  The DataUp Program sought input from teaching institutions, community colleges, HBCU’s and other minority-serving institutions to understand the unique data science education challenges these institutions face. This initiative resulted in the provision of training via workshops/bootcamps, modules, and courses taught by DataUp trained faculty members to 180+ faculty and students across the region resulting in 100+ indirect learners at minority-led/serving institutions, community colleges, and 4-year liberal arts colleges.
 
The South Hub has also provided over $235,000 in seed grants to more than 160 undergraduate and graduate students from regional academic institutions to provide and receive mentorship and participate in professional development opportunities as well as to solve business and governmental goals with the latest data science tools and techniques. The South Hub recruits a large body of volunteers to conduct and manage its activities and ran 140 virtual or in-person meetings, with over 4,700+ cumulative attendees.
 
Nationally, the South Hub also collaborates with the three other regional hubs to facilitate cross-hub projects and hold national-scale events. The South Hub, along with the other regional BD Hubs, operate the NSF funded Open Storage Network (OSN) and organize the All Hub Data Sharing and Cyberinfrastructure Working Group with 120+ members from across the nation. These monthly meetings resulted in 40+ community demos located on the South Hub Youtube playlist highlighting key components for a federated system. The OSN provided matchmaking services to organizations for the utilization of use-cases surrounding Hurricane data use-case and the Oceans Data use-cases. The Hubs group has also been influential in creating the U.S. Data Science Leadership Summit, an annual meeting of data science leaders from all major universities in the United States. As international thought-leaders, the South Hub leadership team has held congressional briefings in Washington DC, apprised Congressional staff regarding its programs and activities, chaired the second annual International Data Science Leaders’ summit organized by the Alan Turing Institute in London, and led the U.S. delegation for a U.S.-Japan Big Data Summit organized jointly by the NSF and JST. Perhaps the highest testament to the impact of the South Big Data Hub is the inclusion of Big Data Hubs in the White House report of the President’s Top 100 high impact investments in Science, Technology and Innovation.
 
The South Big Data Hub has received a second round of funding from the NSF and will continue to build upon these accomplishments and to be an open door for the data science research community to accelerate and grow.