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August 5, 2015

Turing Institute rallies support to battle Big Data

Barriers to Big Data adoption will be targeted through collaboration.

By James Nunns

GCHQ is putting its Big Data expertise to good use by partnering with the Alan Turing Institute.

The partnership will see the two working together to benefit data science and analytics research. The goal is to create policy and best practices for the use of Big Data and to cooperate on training and research.

In the end it is hoped that data analytics methods that are devised could be applied to open access and commercial environments.

GCHQ isn’t the only one to partner with the Institute as EPSRC and Cray, the US supercomputer maker, are also involved. GCHQ’s information security arm, CESG, will advise on data and information risk policies and practices.

The Institute will help to support a growing demand and requirement for businesses and government organisations to make the most of their data by counteracting the Big Data skills gap.

Laurie Miles, Head of Analytics at SAS UK & Ireland, said: "Data analytics can support just about any decision an organisation makes. Provided you have the data, you can make evidence-based decisions – rather than relying on gut instinct or ‘guesswork’ – about many aspects of your business, your customers, your risk exposure, whatever it might be.

"The news today is a huge step forward in changing the perceived barriers to big data analytics adoption. Many are concerned about the lack of skills, both in the breadth of knowledge and the depth of experience needed to fully exploit data.

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"Investment in education is essential to create a new generation of data scientists. Our research with the Tech Partnership revealed there will be a 160 per cent rise in demand for big data specialists up to 2020 across all sectors. The race is on for industries to compete against others to find additional manpower to turn big data into actionable insight."

While helping to tackle the Big Data skills gap, additional benefits from GCHQ’s involvement should be seen in the use of data to protect national security.

Robert Hannigan, Director, GCHQ, said: "We believe that the Institute will allow GCHQ researchers, together with our counterparts in national security and defence in the public sector, to work with the best in the field, as well as providing the opportunity to share and develop our own techniques and ideas across a broad array of sectors."

In what has been a busy few days for the Institute, it has also confirmed £10 million of research funding the Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which adds to the £42 million investment it received to launch in the 2014 March budget.

Professor Andrew Black who has been appointed as the Institute’s first director, said: "The vision of bringing together the mathematical and computer scientists from the country’s top universities to develop the new discipline of data science, through an independent institute with strategic links to commerce and industry, is very compelling."

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