Governor Signs Bill designating N.J. Big Data Alliance as the State’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Consortium into Law

Innovative Partnership Chosen for a National Award

Gov. Chris Christie signed New Jersey's first "Big Data Bill" (A2218/S582) into law last month. The bill, spearheaded by Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula, puts the State on the path to become a national leader in Big Data by officially recognizing the New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA) as the State’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Consortium.

Advanced cyberinfrastructure is the hardware, software, networks and human expertise used to store, manage, transport and analyze massive quantities of digital information, known as “Big Data.”  The New Jersey Big Data Alliance will bring together resources from some of New Jersey's top universities and colleges to confront challenges as well as develop new opportunities in regards to leveraging the promise of Big Data.

At a news conference today (Sept. 23), an alliance leader announced that the NJBDA has won the 2014 G2G Award from Government Management Information Sciences International. Daniel Paolini, chief information architect and director of enterprise data services in the New Jersey Office of Information Technology, explained that the award recognizes public-sector agencies whose exceptional G2 projects serve as a examples of how governments should be expanding their reach in their delivery of public services.

Talking after the news conference are (L to R) Margaret Brennan-Tonetta of Rutgers, Assemblyman Chivukula, Prof. Manish Parashar of Rutgers, Mary Ward-Callan of IEEE and Daniel Paolini of the N.J. Office of Information Technology.

“This legislation,” explained Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, associate vice president for economic development at Rutgers, “formalizes the partnership amongst the State’s higher education institutions in building the computational capabilities and expertise that will benefit industry, academia and government.  The NJBDA will increase public and private access to advanced cyberinfrastructure, increase the ability of member institutions to secure federal funding and enhance the State’s competiveness to attract and retain industry.” 

Today, Big Data poses challenges that significantly impact all sectors of industry, academia and government and prevent them from realizing its tremendous potential.  These challenges are not just technological, but also include a deficit of human expertise.  For example, a recent McKinsey Report estimated a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills in the United States as well as a shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts who have the skills necessary to interpret Big Data and implement results.  

The New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA) addresses these challenges by bringing together the diverse advanced cyberinfrastructure resources and talent housed at the state’s universities and colleges to identify areas of synergy, develop joint educational and research programs, and ultimately nucleate an effective alliance that will increase the competitiveness of New Jersey’s institutions of higher education and industry, and drive economic development in New Jersey.

“New Jersey is open for innovation,” Assemblyman Chivukula said.  “The legislation is a big step in strengthening New Jersey’s hand in attracting investment, retaining high-tech jobs and creating real economic growth,” Chivukula continued.  “I will continue to work with stakeholders in my district and beyond to tackle 21st Century challenges and develop 21st Century opportunities.”

The NJBDA was initiated through Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, by the University’s Office of Research and Economic Development and the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2), and includes Kean University, Montclair State University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Richard Stockton College, Rowan University, Rutgers, and Stevens Institute of Technology.  The Alliance works closely with the Office of Assemblyman Chivukula, the New Jersey Office of Information Technology – Enterprise Data Services, IEEE, the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and NJEDge.Net, which provides high capacity network interconnections to colleges and Universities throughout the State.  The NJBDA also plans to engage other universities, business and government entities in the near future.  

Leaders in the New Jersey Office of Information Technology are pleased with this partnership. “Collectively, the Alliance partners can bring resources to bear that no one organization could muster,” stated Daniel Paolini, chief information architect and director of enterprise data services. “By creating a collaboration environment rather than one of competition, fewer government resources will be diverted into multiple competing initiatives. Our Big Data Solutions Group is looking forward to the benefits of this Alliance.”

In the coming year, the Alliance will conduct industry and government outreach, create training and workforce development workshops, and develop a Big Data Resource Portal. 

“Big Data has the potential for fundamentally transforming all aspects of science and medicine and for transforming our ability to understand and manage our lives and our environment. Having a Big Data resource portal that provides seamless access to public data sources, state-of-the-art data analytics tools, the latest research and publications, and other related information can be a tremendous resource for researchers, students, and industry,” noted Manish Parashar, the Rutgers–New Brunswick NJBDA representative, professor of computer science and director of RDI2.

New Jersey industry also stands to benefit from the Alliance.  According to David Belanger, senior research fellow at Stevens Institute of Technology and its NJBDA representative, “The creation of the NJBDA, which includes individuals who have both academic expertise and commercial experience, is perfectly timed for the Big Data evolution from early users to a much broader base of participants.  The NJBDA is well positioned to help New Jersey industry take full advantage of this evolution.”

“The Open Data movement is also unleashing tremendous economic value for resource strapped government agencies around the world,” stated Ram Gopalan, visiting associate professor in the Rutgers–Camden School of Business and a Rutgers-Camden NJBDA representative.  “Applications range widely, from smart wastewater management to the use of citizen inspectors to report potholes.  The NJBDA wants to ensure that New Jersey’s state and municipal governments are able to take advantage of the insights Big Data affords.”

Finally, the NJBDA’s training and workforce development workshops will provide members of New Jersey’s current and future workforce with the skills they need to remain competitive in the data-driven economy.   “Business analytics of Big Data is a whole new paradigm on doing business – a ‘game changer’ as described by a McKinsey Report,” explained Rashmi Jain, professor and chair of information and operations management at Montclair State University and a NJBDA representative. “Business leaders are taking on the challenges as their strategic initiatives – similar to how they took on the dotcoms boom of the late 90’s. Hiring of chief science officers, chief data officers and chief data scientists are examples of such strategic commitments. The NJBDA is our opportunity to work closely with the industry and government and prepare the New Jersey workforce to take full advantage of a vibrant economy in the making."

More information about the New Jersey Big Data Alliance is available at njbigdata.org