Global Academic Leaders March 2016 Update DataSets and Computing Power for Academic Use: The World Bank Data, Global Open Source Labs, Open Source Lab and Large Retail Datasets, Cognitive Systems Institute Group Speaker Series, Insights for Twitter Data, Insights for Weather Data, World Community Grid Provider/Researcher Access, Data.Gov and IBM Watson Analytics

Welcome to the new Global Academic Leaders March update!   The update has gone global. Many topics, examples and resources span the globe and going forward the content will cross borders to share content, best practices, ideas and resources. The change is to enable key academic leader worldwide to share and take advantage of the reach around the world for the collaboration with other IBM universities partners, clients, business partners, entrepreneurs and even more stakeholders who make up the IBM worldwide community.

Attending the T-Summit in Washington DC, March 21- 22nd provided an opportunity to experience the breath and depth of sharing across the globe. As universities and academic organization are transforming themselves ideas that were formerly considered radical and unrealistic, today are being considered critical to survival.   Some items leading the rapid change are access to learning at a click and access to data again at a click–however it is the understanding of what the data is telling us that is still a cornerstone of learning and those critical thinking skills so frequently discussed. This month’s focus is on the datasets and computing resources available to the academic and research community as they lead that quest for knowledge and understanding the nugget(s) at the core of so much data. To begin that journey we start with the data. Let’s begin…


The World Bank Data

The World Bank provides access to data on a global basis and here is a snapshot of how easy it is to begin by using the above link.   If you are following me on Twitter and were interested in my recent post on how many people live below the poverty line of 1.90/day in Brazil this is the source of the questions as well as the data available by country to answer that question The amount of data available in one central place around this globe makes this an amazing assets for faculty, students, researchers and scientists. Here is a snapshot to show how easy it is for anyone to begin investigating what is available:


Open Source Lab

Need an open source lab for faculty or student development in an open environment: In another part of the world? There are eight labs available worldwide   The labs are designed for developers and while this link provides the complete policy and usage guidelines:     This statement from the site sums up why I was impressed from the discussion I had with Keith Brown and wanted to highlight this key resource, “We typically try not to provide hosting for smaller projects which could be hosted at other “free” hosting sites such as SourceForge or Google Code. We do not have the infrastructure set up to provide hosting to thousands of smaller projects, but would prefer to focus our efforts on hosting those projects that have grown too large to fit in at SourceForge but cannot (yet) afford to pay for hosting at a hosting company.” I do encourage anyone interested to read the entire policy and then take a look at the vast amount of capacity that is available.


Open Source Linux Lab and Large Retails Datasets for Academic Use

Dr. David Douglas at the University of Arkansas has large retail datasets from enterprises recognized worldwide. In addition to providing the access “real” data from major retail enterprise Dr. Douglas has created an analytics environment that enables faculty and students to have accounts on an Enterprise systems to be able to have hands on experience with the data from retailers many faculty and students will recognize. This above link has what is need by faculty to set up faculty and student accounts to use this “real” data from the this list of providers:

“The Acxiom infobase Demographical Database consists of extensive demographic data current as of December, 2011.   The UA_ACXIOM table has 874 columns and 1,275,306 rows and the retail sales information in the UA_SAMSCLUB database was provided to the Walton College of Business by Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. The database consists of 6 tables with more than 55 million rows populated and ready for use. These are just two examples from the above list of datasets available.” Universities around the globe have been using this datasets to get real world experience on big data. In addition to accessing the large datasets, Dr. Douglas has SPSS Modeler as one of the analytics tools available for performing the analysis on the data.


Cognitive Systems Institute Group Speaker Series Thursdays 10:30am US Eastern Time

The latest addition to my calendar is a call hosted by Dianne Fodell. Dianne is the owner/creator/smartbrain behind the a weekly Cognitive System Institute Group weekly 30 minute call. This is an exceptional source and format for sharing cognitive research, curriculum approaches and ideas in a fast paced weekly format.   Also, it provides great visibility into what other universities are doing worldwide to tackle this discussion and find potential new avenues for collaboration.   For the weekly call, below is a summary of some of the topics and replays (the above link as a more extensive list):


28 Apr Xiaolin (Andy) Li “CognitiveEngine: Boosting Scientific Discovery” University of Florida Slides Recording
21 Apr Isaac Ramirez Herrera  Watson Genomic Analytics IBM Watson Health Slides Recording
14 Apr Ching-huei Tsou “Toward Generating Domain-specific / Personalized Problem Lists from Electronic Medical Records”  IBM Watson Research Slides Recording
07 Apr Richard Waldinger “Natural Language Access to Data Via Deduction (rescheduled)” SRI International Slides Recording
31 Mar Chieko Asakawa

Kris Kitani

“Cognitive Assistant for the Blind” IBM Research, Tokyo

Carnegie Mellon University

Slides Recording
24 Mar Regina Joseph “Cognitive Computing: A Future Pathway for Global Affairs Students” New York University Slides Recording
17 Mar Devdatt Dubhashi “Language Technology Tools for Cognitive Computing” Chalmers University Slides Recording
10 Mar Sergey Belov

Haluk Demirkan

Cognitive Sessions at HICSS January 4-7, 2017 Conference IBM Univ Relations CEEMEA

U Washington

Slides Recording
03 Mar Luc De Raedt “Probabilistic Logic Programs and Their Applications” Katholieke Universiteit Leuven Slides Recording
25 Feb Dominique Liana Russo “Cognitive and Affective Biases in High Stakes Decision Making” Harvard University Slides Recording

To access the weekly call Join the meetings by pointing your web browser to:  password=cognitive.   Use audio on computer or 855-233-7153 in the US (other country numbers), PIN Code:  43179788 ATT Global Access Numbers Replays before Dec 2015:  Dial 877.471.6587 or 402.970.2667 and enter the call’s Replay ID when prompted for a program ID number.   The Reply ID is listed in the Recording column of each date.   If you would like to receive a calendar invite, please send a note to Dianne Fodell at requesting a calendar invite for a specific call or the series.


IBM Bluemix Insights for Twitter

To have analytics capabilities combined with Twitter data is the best of both worlds. The Insights for Twitter service provides for up to 5M Tweets for free combined with the Enterprise Version of Hadoop in the cloud at no-charge. As student projects and business ideas are developed this environment provides a development cloud so the focus can be on the idea and build-out instead of the question of how to get the Twitter data. Frequently we see front page new of how social is changes our lives–from the Facebook bottom, “I am Safe” to the Google making NIK available to everyone at no-charge access to data means the access is becoming less of the hurdle and more an opportunity. In the IBM Bluemix Cloud Insights for Twitter Service “Search Twitter content from the Twitter Decahose (10% random sample of Tweets) and PowerTrack stream (100% access to Tweets). The content store is frequently refreshed and indexed, making searches dynamic and fast.” With up to 5M tweets for free, that equates to $10,000 USD.


IBM Insights for Weather

Everyone talks about the weather no one does anything about it — up until now. Similar to the above service the Insights for Weather service combines the Enterprise Version of Hadoop with historical and real-time weather data in the cloud. “The Insights for Weather Free plan allows you to make a maximum of 10 calls to The Weather Company per minute, up to a maximum of 500 API calls per day, for each Bluemix Account. You can test the data in your applications without restrictions to geography, forecast type, or time series observations, with only a restriction on number of calls.” Think of the potential for a researcher to pull in real-time weather data into a program to focused on migration patterns of a specific species based on temperature or other conditions that adversely impact behaviors. Now let’s think of the human species—if an application could automatically pull in weather data into a dispatching system for the Red Cross, or a local police department or excess food from Olympic games venues to a population in Brazil living below the poverty level.


World Community Grid

While I am not a physician (except to Adam{son}, Alex{daughter} and Steven{husband}) but I want to help in the fight against Tuberculous, Cancer, Ebola, Clean Energy — the World Community Grid gives me the ability to contribute by taking a stand in fighting the issues that are serious threats to all of our lives and on-going sustainability. It costs nothing but can be priceless in the fight for research in these areas and an extensive list of other critical research areas.   Researchers and scientists can apply ( to use the resources being provided to the World Community Grid. Here is a subset of some of the research projects where my machines cycles have been allocated:



This link provides access to United States open data sets published for individuals to work on issues in their communities by providing access to the data.   Below are examples of two updates in March with data and supporting events to engage anyone interested to use the data to work on problems impacting them and their communities. The 2016 Roundtables link could provide a great forum for bringing forward ideas/options/solutions on issues to key contacts and potential supporters especially if its is supported by the available data.


Expanding Opportunity with Open Data: A White House Demo March 8, 2016

The White House is working with local governments and technologists who are using open data on access to opportunity to create digital tools that help people advocate for resources in their communities. This effort focuses on facilitating the development of a suite of digital tools that put neighborhood-level information on access to opportunity at the fingertips of families, community organizers, non-profits, local leaders, and the media. The tools are built from a combination of open datasets that are collectively referred to as Open Opportunity Data.


Open Data 2016 Roundtables

“Open data from government is free, publicly-available data that anyone can use and republish. This important public resource has helped Americans find better value for college, fair housing, and safer medicines. In addition, it helps government agencies operate more efficiently, share information, and engage the citizens they serve. These Roundtables will bring together participants from Federal agencies, academia, the private sector, and nonprofit organizations. The Roundtables will include experts on all aspects of open data with technical, policy, and legal backgrounds to identify case studies, lessons learned, and best practices.” The four topics are: Protecting Privacy, Improving Data Quality, Applying Research Data and Leveraging the Private Sector. Anyone can participate and the Protecting Privacy discussions may have some the lasting impacts on technology with ramification we have only started to consider.


IBM Watson Analytics

As we look at the amount of data becoming available, resources to analyze and learn from the data become even more crucial. When we have so much data the more challenging problem is quickly becoming how do we know the right questions to ask to get the most insight from the data.   Having a resource that ingests the data and then can make suggestions on what the data might be highlighting is one of the benefits of Watson Analytics. If a researcher, faculty member, student or entrepreneur wanted to work on reducing the number of people living below the poverty line in Brazil and the key was he/she needed some help in sorting through data Watson Analytics could be a great starting point with unlimited potential on what might be uncovered.


IBM Academic Initiative

The IBM Academic Initiative continues to be the main repository for faculty around the globe to gain access to IBM resources at no charge to bring IBM industry resources into the classroom at no-charge. This link provides the ability for faculty to enroll and begin getting access to educator guides, software, cloud access and more. After getting your membership, one place to start could be the IBM Watson Analytics Educator Guide to help


The March update began with a look at how education is going through a phenomenal change on almost a global basis. During the recent T-Summit the panels and speakers included participants from Dublin City University (Ireland), MIT (US), Purdue University, Virginia Tech, Michigan State University, Olin College of Engineering, NSF (US), NIST and a host of others all with one goal:   How do we come together with bold new approaches? Approaches for tackling education and learning in this whole new world were universities and educators are being asked to produce students ready to excel in a world where the jobs and I will paraphrase one T-Summit speaker, “Educators are being asked to educate student with curriculum not built, for skills to be defined, for jobs they will go into that are not even in existence today.”

This is the dilemma BUT for those reading, sharing and collaborating with a bold vision for the future, this is the opportunity for today’s academic institutions and we are on-board for the mission!



Valinda Scarbro Kennedy


Mobile/Text: 630-747-8807

Twitter: @vscarbro

LinkedIn: Valinda Kennedy


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