Big Data Takes Off in Nova Scotia

July 18, 2013

Small and medium-sized businesses in Nova Scotia will become more competitive and increase the skill of their workforce with support and training from Dalhousie University’s new Big Data Analytics Institute.

“With training and help from Dalhousie’s new institute, small businesses will be able to understand how they can analyze data to help them grow and compete,” said Graham Steele, Minister for Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. “We are pleased to support the institute in its work with businesses in communities throughout Nova Scotia.”

Big data analytics is the process of collecting, analyzing and understanding complex and large amounts of information to support business decisions. Big data comes from posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, cell phone and GPS signals, texts, blogs, or sensors that gather important climate information.

The first of its kind in Canada, the institute will boost education in big data analytics, lead to greater collaboration and research within the province’s growing information and communications technology (ICT) sector, and help establish Nova Scotia as a centre of excellence in the field.

“People and companies working with data know that it can be a powerful asset when making decisions and finding solutions,” said Dr. Stan Matwin, director, Institute for Big Data Analytics at Dalhousie University/Canada Research Chair in Visual Analytics. “The key is to find ways that can uncover hidden patterns and intelligence so they can turn their data into something that makes sense and not only addresses challenges, but identifies opportunities as well. It’s about using data to its fullest potential.”

The NDP government is supporting the institute with $50,000 for training and outreach to small and medium-sized businesses.

Xona Games of Yarmouth is one of Nova Scotia’s many small successful start-up companies. Twin brothers, Matthew and Jason Doucette, develop internationally recognized video games for Xbox, PC, and Android devices.

“Nova Scotia is a competitive player in the gaming sector due to its skilled workforce and provincial support,” says co-owner, Matthew Doucette. “We started Xona Games in our hometown of Yarmouth because we were born and raised there. However, the provincial support has equipped us with as many, if not more, opportunities than anywhere else in the world. It has helped us, even pushed us, to participate in top international gaming conferences which puts our company and games on the world map.”

With significant growth in data worldwide, the analytics market is taking off. The International Data Corporation predicts the market for big data technology and services will reach $16.9 billion by 2015, up from $3.2 billion in 2010, a growth rate of 40 per cent a year.

The ICT sector is one of Nova Scotia’s fastest growing sectors and currently employs about 19,000 people at approximately 600 companies. Nova Scotia is home to many successful ICT start-ups and several multinational firms, including IBM, which have located here. There are 10 universities and 13 colleges here offering degrees and programs in ICT areas.

Today, the province also released its ICT sector profile titled Charting the Digital Infosphere: Nova Scotia’s Information and Communications Technology Sector, Present and Future. The sector profile provides a snapshot of Nova Scotia’s opportunities and some of the many dynamic ICT companies located here. The profile is available at www.novascotia.ca/econ/publications/ .

The NDP is helping small businesses find the support they need more quickly and easily with a new toll-free number (1-855-324-4668), the business.novascotia.ca portal, and by bundling programs and services into five clear entry points.