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Annual Report 2016

World-class research in big data

Ahmed Bukhari and Chris Baker

Harnessing the vast amounts of data generated around the globe holds the power to lead to new innovations – to improve lives, to make society better, and to solve problems that have so far eluded our best efforts.

At UNB, we are among those leading institutions committed to discovery through Big Data research.

On our Saint John campus, computer science department chair Chris Baker and doctoral student Ahmad Bukhari have been collaborating with Yale School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School to find an efficient way to unlock information associated with, and contained in, biomedical images; in essence, making them searchable.

“Searching for biomedical images is challenging,” says Dr. Baker. “These images are opaque to search engines and have no explicit description about the image or its contents.”

The new framework they developed allows professionals to first identify a medical image of interest, find related images as well as the scientific documents from where the images originated – significantly reducing the time it takes to find what they need.

At the Canadian Open Data Summit in Saint John in the spring of 2016, Dr. Baker was recognized as one of three finalists for Canadian Open Data Leader of the Year for his outstanding efforts in the field.

On our Fredericton campus, Monica Wachowicz, the Cisco Systems Chair for Big Data at UNB, is developing breakthrough algorithms and services for analyzing information to assist New Brunswick’s tourism, transportation and municipal planning sectors.

What does this mean for the day-to-day lives of people living here?

Research findings are helping to improve the tourism experience in Saint John by allowing tourists to discover the city using location-based services, and also help transit managers in Moncton to explore real-time big data analytics to help with ridership growth strategy.

“As we harness and analyze the massive volume of data that is produced in this age of the Internet of Everything and mobile communication, it is important to act on it to provide better user experiences, more efficient systems, and ultimately optimize effectiveness in a wide variety of sectors,” Dr. Wachowicz says.