Big Data in the Campus Landscape


This series is a publication of the ECAR Campus Cyberinfrastructure (ECAR-CCI) Working Group. The topic of big data continues to receive a great deal of publicity because of its promise for opening new avenues of scholarly discovery and commercial opportunity. The ability to sift rapidly through massive amounts of data, for example, is resulting in new kinds of scientific discoveries and is making information about Internet-browsing habits more accessible and usable to the commercial sector. Understanding the issues associated with this topic is particularly important on our campuses, where the Internet plays a vital role in managing and providing access to big data sets for research and in helping generate big enterprise data sets from the day-to-day business of the university.

The first paper, Big Data: Laying the Groundwork, introduces and sets the groundwork for a series of briefs that establish the role that big data plays in campus cyberinfrastructure (CI); point out issues of concern around big data and campus CI, support, and development; and present findings and recommendations.

The second paper, Basic Infrastructure Support, discusses issues that big data research raises for basic campus infrastructure support, including network design, server hosting strategies, backup and disaster recovery, and campus bridging. Research computing infrastructure support services have often been specialized and at times isolated. The size and scale of research big data will, by default, impact campus IT. A well-coordinated strategy is essential.

The third paper, Security and Privacy, discusses basic findings for how information security, privacy, and compliance issues are brought to bear and unique in the realm of research big data. In addition, it looks at institutional considerations related to IRB protections and big data as well as the recognition that data are institutional assets. Finally, overall findings, including a recognition that security and privacy go hand in handand a risk management approach that considers both issues in concert will likely yield the best results, are discussed.

The fourth paper, Curation, examines current data-curation activities, discusses why they need to be extended to research big data, and, most importantly, focuses on why they are important and what purposes they are intended to serve. The emphasis is not on technical details, specific disciplinary standards, or best practices but rather on the contributions and limitations of various roles and activities during the data life cycle, particularly as they apply to research big data.

Big Data in the Campus Landscape: Complete Series List

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