IBM and DCU create master’s degree in big data, analytics and smart cities

24 Jul 2013

IBM and Dublin City University (DCU) have collaborated to create a new master’s degree programme in computer science with an emphasis on big data, business analytics, and smart cities.

The collaboration will help graduate students to develop critical IT skills for urban analysis, consumer behaviour, social networks, sentiment analysis, healthcare, and cyber and network security.

Course content has been jointly developed by DCU and IBM to equip students with deep analytical skills to tackle next-generation business challenges, explained IBM’s public sector CTO Katharine Frase.

“This new MSc programme will give students deep quantitative skills and technical expertise to apply analytics to real business problems. 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.

“These data and analytics challenges also exist in other industries, and students with these skills will have many career opportunities,” Frase added.

Big data and the battle for insight

Driven by the enormous growth in data created via the internet, social media and cloud computing, the data analytics sector is expanding at a rate of 40pc a year.

The challenge is to derive valuable information and insight from the large amounts of raw data.

The sector has been targeted for jobs growth as part of the ‘Disruptive Reforms’ in the Irish Government’s Action Plan for Jobs 2013.

Big data is a term for technology and services that harness the explosion of data coming from a growing number of resources – including data collected from smartphones and social networks, instrumentation and atmospheric readings to surveillance cameras and sensors.

“With this growth rate, there will soon be a shortage of talented analysts who can help cities and organisations work with big data and analysis,” explained Prof Brian MacCraith, president of DCU.

“This new master’s programme seeks to address this skills gap and will complement existing national big data initiatives by Science Foundation Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, such as the Centre for Applied Data Analytics Research and the Insight-sponsored structured PhD in data analytics.”

The need for analytical minds

IDA Ireland CEO Barry O’Leary said the new programme will provide a recognised qualification in an area that is becoming increasingly important for multinational companies located in Ireland.

“Having a dedicated Big-Data Masters programme will increase the number of skilled graduates available for hire in Ireland, thus increasing our attractiveness to foreign businesses.

“Cloud computing is now one of the fastest growing segments in the technology industry.

“Ireland’s academic institutes are now providing a variety of courses which will qualify graduates to meet ICT industry needs and employment opportunities.

“There is a need for qualified analysts that can interpret and carry out applied research in computer science,” O’Leary added.

Business analyst image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years