Third annual NSPARC Data Summit at MSU shows potential of ‘smart cities’

Contact: James Carskadon

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves discusses the importance of quality data during the 2018 Data Summit, hosted by Mississippi State’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at The Mill at MSU. (Photo by Beth Wynn)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—State, education and industry leaders examined the many uses of data to create “smart cities” during the third annual Data Summit, hosted this week [Sept. 13-14] by Mississippi State’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center.

During his keynote speech, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves discussed how data drives decision making in the Mississippi Legislature and the importance of reliable data. The state uses data to improve education, increase emergency response capabilities, compete for federal grants and convince businesses to invest in Mississippi, and more.

“Data is quickly becoming the currency for success,” Reeves said. “In a state like ours, with limited and scarce resources, precise measurements help us make better decisions on how to serve the state and how to protect and preserve our tax dollars.”

Reeves also commended the work NSPARC has done in collaboration with state agencies to improve Mississippi and discussed the importance of retaining Mississippi’s “best and brightest” people.

“It’s incredibly important that the state of Mississippi and our institutions of higher learning have a partnership,” Reeves said. “Because as the universities grow and expand and produce more college graduates, our economy can grow and expand and produce more and more GDP growth.”

MSU President Mark E. Keenum said that he has modeled former U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s approach of using data and facts to make decisions, not assumptions or rumors. Keenum said MSU continues to grow in part because the university is on the cutting edge of many challenging research fields that will shape what the world looks like for decades to come.

“[NSPARC Executive Director Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi] and his team are doing a marvelous job here at this one center, and this is one of many centers where we are addressing critical challenges,” Keenum said. “We have one of the largest, fastest supercomputers on any university campus right here at Mississippi State. We have federal agencies we work with that are investing for us to bring even more machines and more high-tech computing to this university. We’re working to address critical challenges and generate more data, knowledge and facts to serve our state and our nation.”

NSPARC Executive Director Domenico “Mimmo” Parisi delivers a keynote address during the 2018 Data Summit at The Mill at MSU. (Photo by Megan Bean)

Sessions at the two-day summit explored how data science can lead to new innovations and processes within the “smart city” concept across various industries, including agriculture, communication and media, education, energy, infrastructure, city planning, government, health, transportation and logistics, public safety, security and data governance.

Parisi, a professor of sociology, founded NSPARC 10 years ago and has overseen its growth. A Thursday reception celebrated the research center’s 10th anniversary. Earlier this year, NSPARC opened a data center in the Thad Cochran Research, Technology and Economic Development Park. The new center contains 3,300 square feet of state-of-the-art technology that can process and store more than 400 terabytes of data, allowing NSPARC to further its mission of using data science to drive human progress.

During his keynote speech, Parisi discussed the ways cities will use data to improve public life, something Mississippi has become well versed in. He said data has to be structured and used in a way that makes it practical for it to provide value.

“Data has to be big, smart and fast, otherwise it won’t have the same value,” Parisi said.

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Friday, September 14, 2018 - 2:57 pm