The new Centre of Expertise in Big Geodata Science (CRIB) aims to provide a horizontal and overarching facility to facilitate the use of Big Geospatial Data. The first member, dr Serkan Girgin says: “We will help our researchers and students to access big data infrastructure and to better use big data tools and methods. This way they can more easily widen their scope and scale their research to a continental level and beyond.”
Besides developing an easily accessible infrastructure, CRIB will support colleagues and students to gain and improve know-how on big geospatial technologies and keep them informed on the recent developments in this rapidly changing field. Big data tools and methods are not always easy to use and this is where CRIB comes in. Girgin says: “You might have access to big data and also computing resources to process it, but that doesn’t mean it is a simple task. Sometimes you need to change your workflow completely. This may require substantial technical assistance.”
Geo-information science and earth observation fields are heavy users of data with large volume and variety, such as multi-temporal and multi-spectral satellite imagery. These huge data sets are known as big data when they become too big to deal with traditional systems. But recent developments in computing infrastructure and publicly available global data sets bring new opportunities. “Large-scale computing infrastructure with specialized processing units were not widely available in the past. Now anybody with a small budget can access one by using a web browser and easily scale it according to the needs,” says Girgin.
Still, there are many challenges a researcher can face with the use of big data at a continental or global level. These include effective storage, quick access, easy visualization, and efficient analysis of these huge datasets, especially for machine learning and deep learning purposes. There is lots of (open source) software available to use in the analysis of big data but it can become challenging to keep up with all the new developments.
This is one of the parts where CRIB can come in and help. “Besides organizing training to improve knowledge on available tools and methods, we will also provide scientific and technical advice and support for better use of these technologies for education, research, and institutional strengthening activities.” says Girgin, “CRIB will strengthen the link between the researchers and technology providers, which hopefully will result in more projects benefiting from big data technologies. We will also be in contact with other UT facilities working on big data, such as the Digital Society Institute.”