Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub Community Engagement and Progress


Our Community Commitment

Here at the Hub, we believe in strengthening our impact by building and expanding partnerships across industry, academia, nonprofits, and government. Through our efforts in collaboration with the community, we address societal and scientific challenges, spur economic development, and accelerate innovation in the national big data ecosystem.

The Northeast Hub is a community convener, collaboration hub, and catalyst for data science innovation in the Northeast Region. The Hub amplifies successes of the community, and shares credit across the community to encourage collaboration and mutual success in data science endeavors.

Evaluating and Strengthening Hub Actions

The Hub is committed to continuously strengthening our impact by utilizing the community’s feedback to guide our practices and understand how we can best serve the community. To assist us on this mission, we use an independent evaluator to help us assess the impact of various efforts led by the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub.

In 2020, we drew on the help of Knology, an impartial research collective independent of the Northeast Big Data Hub, to evaluate the Hub’s activities. In July of 2020, we were provided with the first phase of the Knology evaluation. The report explored the impacts of the Hub’s programmatic activities aimed at increasing engagement in big data science, developing shared resources and services, and data science education and workforce development.

The data collected in the report suggested that the Hub occupies a central role in fostering meaningful collaborations between stakeholders from various sectors of the data science field and is well suited to address some of the current gaps in the field around gathering and sharing large datasets. The second phase of the evaluation was made available in December 2020.

Overall, the the second phase of the evaluation in December found the community to be even more satisfied with the Hub, and the summative evaluation demonstrated that the Hub is successfully meeting each of the four stated goals laid out in its strategic plan. There are still some challenges to address as the Hub continues to grow – particularly around staff capacity – but it has a strong foundation on which to improve and grow with continued NSF support. In sum, analysis across both rounds of evaluation demonstrate that, building on successful efforts to date, the Hub has a critical future role to play in increasing data science capacity, access, and opportunity throughout the Northeast region and beyond.

Some findings from the summative evaluation include:

  • The Hub’s more streamlined and targeted outreach efforts have resulted in deeper and more diverse engagement with the community
  • There are clear channels of communication between the Hub and members of the data science community.
  • The Executive Team has stepped up efforts in the area of community building, yielding tangible outcomes
  • Through the Hub’s activities, members have expanded their professional networks and been exposed to new opportunities for collaboration.
  • The Hub encourages active involvement from young people and has provided ways to engage them that align with the needs of both professors and students.
  • The Hub is continuing to grow by amplifying the work of its existing members and reaching new potential stakeholders.

Evaluation feedback from participants: 

“They’re doing a darn good job of linking people together, and that’s the best use of data.”  

“One of the hallmarks of the Northeast Big Data Hub is the collaboration aspect.”  

“They’re very responsive, always open to conversation and discussions, brainstorming about new ideas, open to expanding into whatever areas might be useful for the researchers involved.”

The entire summative evaluation report is available below.

Hub Activities to Serve our Community

As part of the evaluation, Knology identified ways that the Hub may seek to maximize its impact in the following years. We are working to build their recommendations into our strategy and operations.

Beyond our existing community events, we will reach broader and non-academic communities by incorporating the following strategies:

  • Increasing our participation in existing conferences and events popular among the community, such as research and education network events and college events
  • Organizing new community events, such as the COVID Information Commons (CIC) Community lightning talk webinars and events 
  • Providing more opportunity for students to participate in Hub activities and increase engagement in the COVID-19 research community, with the CIC Student Paper Challenge
  • Developing programs that support underserved communities, such as the Northeast Student Data Corps
  • Extending our reach by co-branding events with collaborator organizations and placing a special focus on reaching communities we may not know yet, such as with the Global Connected Healthcare Cybersecurity Virtual 2021 Workshop Series presented by the IEEE SA, IEEE P2933™ Working Group, and the Northeast Big Data Innovation Hub
  • Creating more content highlighting Northeast data science projects, outcomes, and opportunities from community voices, including community Success Stories
  • Incorporating topics highlighting new developments in the field, across our four focus areas
  • Expanding existing multi-channel communications, with more news on LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as our YouTube channel
  • Meeting quarterly to review engagement analytics to inform communications strategy

An Overview of our Community’s Engagement

Northeast Big Data Hub Audience: Individuals, Organizations, and Higher Education Institutions Reached through February 2021

  • The Hub audience is composed of individuals from the 50 states in the USA plus Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., and 16 countries outside of the United States 
  • Through February 2021, the Hub reached 3277 individuals, spanning across sectors including academia, non-profit, industry and government
  • Through February 2021, the Hub reached 800 organizations/institutions. Half of the organizations reached by the Hub reside in the Northeastern United States. The remaining organizations span across the South, Midwest, and West regions of the United States, as well as organizations outside of the United States in the following countries: Australia, Bermuda, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Lebanon, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom
  • Through February 2021, the Hub reached 374 Higher Education institutions. Of those institutions, 26% are minority-serving institutions (MSI). The following tables gives a breakdown of the institutions:
MSINon – MSITotals
Private15134149
Public82143225
Totals97277374
Higher Education Minority Serving Institution Types Reached by the Hub
MSI TypeNumber of institutions (n=97 MSIs*)
Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI)56
Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander – Serving Institution (AANAPISI)26
Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU)17
Primarily Black Institutions (PBI)9
Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian – Serving Institutions (ANNH)3
Native American – Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI)1
Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU)1
* total is greater than n=97 because some institutions have more than one MSI designation (e.g. HSI + AANAPISI)

Community Growth in 2020

  • In 2020, the Hub reached 1210 new individuals from 409 organizations in 47 U.S. states, plus Washington, D.C. and 7 non-US countries including China, Greece, India, Nigeria, Peru, Switzerland, United Kingdom.

Community Growth in 2021

In February 2021, the Hub launched the Northeast Student Data Corps (NSDC), bringing 654 new individuals and 30 new organizations into the hub community. This included the addition of our 16th non-US country with the addition of Lebanon. A total of 676 individuals registered for the February 19th, 2021 NSDC Launch webinar and inaugural data science career panel. 

COVID Information Commons

  • Since its launch in July 2020, the COVID Information Commons reached 1,192 individuals across 399 organizations, spanning across various sectors, across all regions of the United States, Washington DC and Puerto Rico as well as in areas outside of the US in China and Peru

Seed Fund Program

  • The 2020 Seed Fund Program reached 253 institutions within the Northeast region, including a new outreach list of 150 academic institutions that include minority serving institutions, colleges and universities without data science programs, and data science institutes
  • In total, the Hub received 40 seed fund proposals from 29 different institutions 
  • The Hub awarded 19 seed grants to 16 different institutions
  • The most popular focus areas were Health and Education and Data Literacy, both of which had a total of 19 proposals and 8 grants awarded
  • 90% (36) of proposals came from academic institutions and the remaining 10% (4) came from non-profit organizations
  • 95% (18) of the awards were granted to academic institutions and 5% (1) to a non-profit
  • 15% (3) of the awards were granted to Minority Serving Institutions

Northeast Student Data Corps

The Northeast Student Data Corps began in 2020 with a call for a founding committee (NSDC FC) which has attracted 24 individuals from 19 organizations across the Northeast region. Working together in three teams responsible for Content and Pedagogy, Peer Instruction and Mentoring, and Outreach, we launched the NSDC at the Inaugural NDSC Data Science Career Panel on February 19, 2021. The panel included students, professors, researchers and a data science professional with leadership experience in industry, nonprofit and government organizations, inspiring learners of all ages to pursue or consider data science careers. The launch webinar attracted 676 individual registrants, bringing 654 new individuals and 30 new organizations into the Hub community representing the U.S. and 3 countries – Australia, Germany, and adding Lebanon as the Hub’s 16th non-US country. Over 280 individuals participated in the launch webinar as further explained in our blog post.

Map of the NSDC Panel Registrants Across the World

Hub Leadership

The Hub leadership consists of four committees comprised of 36 individuals from 27 different organizations in the Northeast region.

The four teams are comprised of:

  • 7 individuals on the Steering Committee from both the academic and nonprofit sectors
  • 9 individuals on the Seed Fund Steering Committee from the academic, industry and nonprofit sectors
  • 3 individual Co – Principal Investigators, and one Principal Investigator, from the academic sector
  • 17 individuals on the Advisory Board from the academic, industry and nonprofit sectors

Offer us your Feedback

Here at the Hub, we value your thoughts and believe they’re very important in helping us inform our practices. Please feel free to leave us feedback using the form below.