A Message from Dr. Jacek Zurada, 2014 Technical Activities Vice President (November)

Dr. Jacek M. Zurada, 2014 IEEE Vice-President Technical Activities

In recent years, Technical Activities has placed special emphasis on nurturing technical communities through the incubation and growth of its Future Directions technology initiatives. The IEEE Big Data Initiative, launched this year, is one of the most exciting initiatives added to our impressive portfolio.

Big data – the amount of structured and unstructured data generated through a multitude of sources – continues to grow exponentially over time. When we conduct an online transaction, hire a taxi in a large city, read an online paper, place a phone call, take a medical test, express our preference online, or tweet our comments, a new data point is created. Our data doesn’t just define our personal profiles: it contributes to collaborative statistics that have powerful predictive properties. Adding to this growing amount of personal data, huge amounts are also created in life sciences, physics, and other fields each and every day.

In 2015, an estimated 8 zetabytes of data will be generated. To harness this deluge of data to society’s benefit, the IEEE Big Data Initiative is bringing together thought leaders to address rapid changes in data acquisition, storage, and processing technologies. As the Vice President of Technical Activities, I had the pleasure of witnessing this firsthand at the IEEE Big Data Initiative Workshop held at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA this October. There, representatives from IEEE, industry, and academia gathered to determine the best strategies to respond to the challenges of this fast-growing technology. The workshop focused on how to integrate big data into future seamless intelligence scenarios, and our need to ask the right questions to understand and utilize the full potential of big data.

Participating in this workshop helped me realize just how important it is to develop novel approaches in big data analytics. Once discovered, analytics tools can benefit users, having not only a huge impact on our personal analytics, but also on sustainable engineering, business, government, military, science, politics, health care, and the climate. Yet despite all the potential benefits, we must question what risks big data poses to our security and privacy, especially when in the hands of governments and large companies. This is where the IEEE Big Data Initiative faces a major challenge: to find ways for society to benefit from big data while continuing to preserve the privacy, trust, and rights of the individuals whose data is collected.

With several big data-related conferences launching this fall, and the release of IEEE Transactions on Big Data in 2015, the initiative is well on its way to addressing these challenges.

We welcome you to get involved in the IEEE Big Data Initiative. Visit the initiative’s website to learn more.

Learn more about IEEE Future Directions technology initiatives.

Dr. Jacek M. Zurada
2014 IEEE Vice-President Technical Activities