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Region unites as “big data” hub

In an endeavor to continue Northern Virginia's place as a leader in the big data arena, the Northern Virginia Technology Council announced the formation of the Big Data and Analytics Committee last month.

Through its efforts in promoting the area as a data hub through educational, networking and private-public partnership opportunities, the committee hopes to stimulate economic growth throughout the region and the country.

“Industry, academic and research leaders in this region, and the NVTC’s leadership in particular, truly believe that we have a unique set of powerful resources, knowledge and expertise to strengthen our leadership position in the big data and analytics market,” said Greg Baroni, chairman and CEO of Attain, at a research presentation last May.

The committee's formation is a direct consequence of a task force created by NVTC, a membership and trade association for tech companies in the region, and other academic and institutional organizations in the area to assess data gathering and analysis in Virginia.

A research report prepared by Chmura Economics and Analytics, a data consulting firm, was released in May.

According to the study, Northern Virginia is a hub of data collection and production, making it ideal for innovations in the realm of “data capital.”

“Big data” refers to all data coming out of companies and institutions both in the region and around the world. The data includes web behavior, social network interactions, product transactions and financial records, to name a few.

The study conducted by Chmura gathered information from firms in the Potomac region in 2014. From the surveys conducted, Chmura estimated that the regional firms generate 717 terabytes of new data on average every day.

The study also showed 70 percent of the world's Internet traffic comes through the Northern Virginia region on a daily basis.

Based on that information, the newly formed committee will focus on practices and procedures for the effective collection and analysis of data.

NVTC will host the inaugural committee meeting with George Washington University and Attain members on Oct. 3.

“We're hoping the region will be branded as a hub for big data,” said Dova Wilson, marketing and communications specialist for George Washington University's Science and Technology Campus. “Northern Virginia is in a good position to [collect and analyze data] ...The foundation is there, but we need to capitalize on it now before someone else does.”

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