MIT, Intel Plan on Big Data Research at New Facility

MIT and Intel will look for ways to improve data analysis.

Intel plans on building a new Intel Science and Technology Center (ISTC) for Big Data at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), with plans to research ways to analyze massive data sets.

“We are witnessing unprecedented growth in unstructured digital data and this will only accelerate further through the rapid increase of mobile Internet devices such as phones, car and signs,” Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer, wrote in a May 30 statement, “and the projected development of the ‘Internet of Things,’ which will be constantly sensing the world around us.”

But all that data needs to be analyzed in order to prove useful, he added: “Our goal is to innovate and guide this work across multiple fields, from medical to media, to extract meaning from large amounts of data.”

Specifically, ISTC will approach the data issues from both a hardware and software perspective. In addition to examining the best ways to build hardware for optimal data storage, management, and processing, the researchers will also work on algorithms and “scalable, co-designed architectural alternatives.”

Fields of study will include economic analysis, including real-time data linked to financial transactions and social networking effects; healthcare and life sciences, where analytics could potentially result in customized treatments; retail, with Big Data applied to customer interactions and supply management; and government, particularly in areas such as actionable intelligence for disaster preparedness and intelligence-gathering.

ISTC will collaborate with researchers at six U.S. universities, including MIT (the host), UC-Santa Barbara, Stanford, Portland State University, Brown University, and the University of Washington.

Big Data represents a considerable challenge for analysts and executives in a number of industries, in large part because many organizations’ tool sets are unequal to the massive amounts of information flooding their data centers. The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), a nonprofit organization that provides resources and education to information professionals, recently surveyed 403 of its members—and found that some 55 percent of organizations lack either search or analytics capabilities, compared with 8 percent claiming ownership of both.

Another 26 percent of organizations reported struggling to organize content, with 30 percent claiming poor B.I. capabilities and reporting. A lot of those issues relate to inadequate staffing trained in data analytics, as well as (perhaps) a lack of funding for B.I. tools—but there’s also the possibility that the fruits of more research into Big Data applications could help those companies stay ahead of the rising information tide. MIT and Intel could have their work cut out for them.


Image: Jakub Pavlinec/