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Dublin City U Builds Big Data, Smart City Master's with Private Partner

Dublin City University is working to set up a new master's program that brings together the disciplines of "big data," business analytics, and "smart city" planning. The school is working with IBM on the new program to help graduate students develop skills in urban analysis as well as consumer behavior, social networks, sentiment analysis, healthcare, and cyber and network security.

IBM is helping Dublin City U in several ways. The company will help create curriculum, IBM experts will work with faculty members to deliver course content, and the company will be involved in setting up research projects for students to pursue. Previously, IBM worked with the university to set up a master's program in cloud computing.

This isn't the first time IBM has had a hand in "urban informatics" academics. In 2012, as one example, the company participated along with a number of other organizations to help set up CUSP, New York University's Center for Urban Science and Progress. That initiative is specifically intended to instruct students on how to manage and apply data that can "improve city living conditions," a company spokesman said. There, the course work was designed to help students become engineers equipped to tackle city problems such as traffic congestion or energy usage.

The newest program is expected give students comparable skills with the expectation that they'll have "many career opportunities," said Katharine Frase, VP and CTO for IBM's global public sector division. "Cities today generate large volumes of data, and both IT managers and city leaders must understand the implications of the use of that data and how to create social and business value by extracting actionable insights from that data."

The new program comes at a time when the Irish government has put a focus on the data analytics category as a possible bright spot for jobs growth in the country, which is currently seeing an unemployment rate of 13.5 percent, compared to 8 percent in the United States. The country recognizes a looming worldwide skills gap. According to a 2011 McKinsey report, data is growing at the rate of 40 percent per year. The same report stated that by 2018, the United States alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with "deep analytical skills" along with 1.5 million managers and analysts "with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions."

"With this growth rate, there will soon be a shortage of talented analysts who can help cities and organizations work with big data and analysis," said Dublin City U President Brian MacCraith. "This new collaboration will help to build the next generation of city leaders and business entrepreneurs by fostering innovation, local application of the latest technological advances, and knowledge of industrial best practices in cities and organizations."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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