A UK-Africa Data Science Network: Capturing the SKA-Driven Data Transformation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The programme will build a multi-institute big data research and training platform, between the South African and UK partner universities, that will establish sustainable links via a Data Science Network, led by academics and developed and refined in consultation with the user community. eResearch capacity is an absolute necessity in a world where the appropriate handling of big data, in the natural sciences, medicine, the humanities and the social sciences is of paramount importance. This program will support the development of research capacity in Big Data and Data Science in South Africa through the creation of a joint UK-SA training network which will form the basis of a long term sustainable research collaboration that has the potential to address issues of global concern.

The program is designed to create a UK-SA Data Science Network to advance research and training in big data science. As a core tool to support the network and its programs we will develop and deploy an online portal gateway. Such cyber-infrastructure can be used both as a direct teaching resource, hosting MOOCs and other online material, as well as a research platform for data science and big data, hosting a data portal and collaborative work space. The program does not intend to build physical infrastructure, but will utilise capacity at existing facilities developed for data intensive research in conjunction with the SKA project in Africa.

Planned Impact

The economic impact of training programs such as this is often found primarily in providing a skilled work force for an existing economy in order to grow that sector. The big data analytics economy is still emerging and the cohort of students trained by this program will be expected to contribute significantly to securing South Africa's future market share in this area. Impacts will be found primarily in three areas:

People: By establishing a joint UK-SA eResearch infrastructure for Big Data & Data Science we will improve science and innovation expertise (i.e. capacity building). We will do this using student and researcher fellowships which include mobility schemes and joint training programs.

Research: By building on newly established scientific infrastructure we will develop an innovative research program that utilises techniques drawn from the fundamental scientific research surrounding the SKA project in order to expand the impact of those techniques into other domains. We will establish an innovative cross-disciplinary Data Science Network platform that can accelerate and enable data science innovation across multiple fields, both academic and non-academic, in SSA.

Translation: We will target the expansion of data analysis, visualisation and management techniques necessary for the SKA into other domains. We will achieve this by partnering SKA data science projects with non-SKA data science projects under three common research themes: data visualisation, data analytics, data visualisation and data systems & tools. This innovative approach will enable a parallel development of big data and data science techniques across multiple domains and allow us to use progress in the SKA project to develop innovative solutions on development topics outside the remit of SKA.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Big Data Africa 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Big Data Africa - postgraduate training school in machine learning, data science and analysis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ska.ac.za/students/big-data-africa-summer-school/
 
Description IDW2018 Hackathon 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Two day hackathon event to accompany International Data Week 2018 in Gaborone, Botswana.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://github.com/darabigdata/IDWBotswana
 
Description JEDI Madagascar 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 25 students attended a training school on machine learning, data science and data analytics in Madagascar.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.idia.ac.za/workshop/jedi-madagascar