NSPARC data summit showcases Mississippi as a leader in turning data into action

U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper speaks at the second annual Data Summit Friday [Sept. 15] at The Mill at MSU. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Contact: James Carskadon

STARKVILLE, Miss.—University, state and federal leaders highlighted the many ways Mississippi State’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) is utilizing data to inform decisions Friday [Sept. 15] at the second annual Data Summit.

Held at The Mill at MSU, the summit featured keynote speeches from U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, Mississippi Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and NSPARC Executive Director Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi. Harper said Congress has been addressing emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles and telehealth, both of which require advanced uses of data and will help grow the economy. Harper, along with many other speakers, noted that leaders in Washington, D.C., are taking notice of the innovative ways Mississippi is using data.

“Gathering, sharing and utilizing data is essential to where we go in the future,” Harper said.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum highlighted the university’s Cray supercomputer, Shadow, which can conduct 593 trillion calculations per second, making it one of the 20 fastest academic supercomputers in the nation.

“I’m very proud that our institution is viewed as a major data science university and that we have expertise in this area,” Keenum said.

In a video message played at the summit, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant commended the MS Works App, developed by NSPARC, which connects job-seekers with employment opportunities in the state. The app was the first of its kind designed in the country. Both Bryant and Gunn said data compiled by NSPARC has helped them make more informed public policy decisions.

“Any decision we make is faulty if we don’t have reliable data,” Gunn said. “Our resources are limited, so when we use those resources, we have to make it count. That is driven by having reliable data. We have one of the best data systems in the country right here in Mississippi.”

Panel discussions at the summit focused on the importance of reliable data in the telecommunications, healthcare, utility and education fields. Panelists also discussed the importance of strong cybersecurity measures to protect sensitive data. Mississippi Central District Public Service Commissioner Cecil Brown said his commission has worked with NSPARC to inform potential employees of jobs in the utility industry.

The event included representatives from many state agencies that have used data in innovative ways helping the state become a leader in data-driven programs and decision making. Parisi’s keynote focused on the ways data science can be a force for driving growth and progress.

“Mississippi is really in front in this area,” Parisi said. “If you connect data, you realize the full potential of it. We’ve been able to bring everyone to the table, and that’s when you begin to realize the value. Data integration in Mississippi has helped us build the right team. I’m very proud that we’re at the front of this field.”

For more on NSPARC, visit www.nsparc.msstate.edu.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.