Fisher College of Business, IBM and Smart Cities

By Joel ThomasImage

The use of big data, and the Fisher College of Business’s recent partnership with IBM, has Columbus on the way to becoming a smart city.

The recently built IBM Data Analytics Center in Columbus partnered with the Fisher College of Business to create a curriculum for undergraduates in analytics, according to Scott Cook, an IBM spokesperson.

“There is a significant knowledge gap. There are a lot more jobs in analytics than there are skilled professionals,” said Cook. “We are helping to create a curriculum that closes that gap.”

IBM selected Columbus for an analytical center because of its central location. The city has the second highest number of college graduates in a 200-mile radius, and IBM has had a presence in Columbus for 85 years, said Cook.

Businesses are moving toward using big data in order to keep up with the competition. The competitive edge will come from students who are educated enough in analytics to help them use data more efficiently and make better decisions.

The Fisher College of Business is also interested in using big data for themselves with the help of IBM, said Ralph Greco, the Director of Business Analytics at Fisher.

“If a department has 95 percent of its students in jobs six months after graduation, then the curriculum is fine,” said Greco. “If, on the other hand, they are placing 85 percent of their students in jobs and 12 percent of them work in a doctor’s office or somewhere else, then they have a problem. They have to look at why their students aren’t getting jobs in their fields and possibly reevaluate the curriculum.”

Colleges at Ohio State can use big data to look at students applying for admittance and determine which of them are most likely to find a job after graduation.

“By studying data on the students who graduate and immediately find a job, colleges can create a model of an ‘ideal student’ that they can use during their admittance process,” said Greco.

Students should not only be able to use big data to think of the right question and then find the answer, but also to know what to do once they have that answer. Education on analytics is the first step toward creating a smarter city, said Greco.

The implementation of big data plays a vital role in the process a city takes towards becoming a smart city.

“A smart city is one that uses data as an infrastructure to make other infrastructure more effective,” said Harvey Miller, the Reusche Chair in Geographical Information Science at Ohio State.

The use of smart phones throughout cities means people are constantly sending out data. GPS services on phones allow big data to be collected at an individual level in real time. Miller says this type of data collection is unprecedented.

“Throughout the last century or so we’ve only been able to work on more aggregate levels, such as counting the number of cars that roll down a street or doing a travel survey once every five to 10 years,” said Miller. “Cities can use this data to create better transportation systems that are better tailored for supporting people’s activities.”

Big data is collected in a smart city in areas such as transportation, energy and water use, crime rates and economic activity.

Miller does not think the idea of a smart city is on anyone’s radar screen at Ohio State, but he said he believes the potential exists.

“The elements are here,” said Miller. “The IBM data center is here, there’s a very progressive city government and the recent push to make Columbus big on biking will encourage people to move closer to downtown.”


OSU Wexner Medical Center and Big Data

By Karlie Frank


The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center will soon launch a study aimed at improving patient adherence to its cardiac rehabilitation program by harnessing the power of big data and social networking. 

The study, conceived by Lise Worthen-Chaudhari, Research Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine, and Dr. Martha Gulati, Director of Preventive Cardiology and Women’s Cardiovascular Health, will use data from past cardiac patient histories to construct a new rehabilitation program. The program will incorporate text messaging to encourage patients to go to sessions.

Farsite, a data analysis company in Columbus, will help the medical center perform statistical analysis on the historical data to see which factors are most telling in adherence or non-adherence to rehab. 

Michael Gold is the founder of Farsite and a leader on the project.”You can look at those historical patients and their compliance or noncompliance with the cardiac rehab, and you can identify what factors are important,” he said. “We use that to help craft the study where we’re actually enrolling [new] patients.”

Though the project is still in the beginning stages of data collection, two factors that have popped up the most are health insurance and type of patient employment.

“Folks that don’t have insurance are less likely to go [to cardiac rehab], and people that are self-employed are less likely to go, and you can draw any number of conclusions,” Gold said. “Are those [self-employed] people busier? Are those people less likely to have health insurance?”

Worthen-Chaudhari has done much research on social intervention in the health care space and envisioned using it in cardiac rehab. She, Gulati and Gold deemed text messaging the most appropriate method of social intervention.

“We tried to think about how we can take the core principles that bring meaning and power to social media, and do it in such a way that’s more accessible to the patient population that’s most likely to suffer from a heart attack, which are older people,” said Gold.

Family and friends of the patient will write out text messages to the patient ahead of time, encouraging them to go to their sessions. Farsite will bank these texts and send them to the patient throughout the program. 

Worthen-Chaudhari is passionate about the role of family and friends in the rehabilitation process.

“The idea that we might be able to help not only cardiac heart failure patients but help their loved ones help the patient as well—I love that,” she said. 

Worthen-Chaudhari foresees big data continuing to transform the health care industry.

“It’s pretty cool, the power [of big data],” she said. “Anything we can do to improve patient health, we have to do.”

Big Data Future Conference 2014

By Marcus Andrews

The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law will host a free multidisciplinary conference from March 19-21, 2014, with the goal of raising awareness about big data’s potential impact on economic, social and political life.ohio-state-university

Ohio State law professor Peter Shane, the lead organizer of Big Data Future, explained that helping people understand big data and connect it to their lives is an important part of the conference.

“Any one of these topics could sustain its own full day symposium or its own full semester course,” Shane said. “But the idea of the conference is really to give people, to give non-experts, a kind of road map of this terrain—a sense of what the field encompasses.”

Big Data Future will consist of eight panels and a keynote speaker discussing a range of big data topics. Each contributor will also write a paper, and presentations will be video- recorded and archived online.

Joel Gurin, the founder of, will deliver the keynote address. Panel discussion topics will range from the governance of big data, to big data’s impact on health, education and welfare.

Panelists will come from a variety of fields in the university, government and private sectors, with some coming from high-profile companies such as IBM, Twitter and Microsoft.

Shane stressed the importance of the diversity of expertise brought by the speakers.

“My basic defense of interdisciplinary approaches is always that problems rarely show up in single discipline frames,” Shane said. “Whether it’s poverty, or climate change, or economic growth, all of these things require problem solvers from a variety of approaches.”

Caroline Wagner, a professor at Ohio State’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs, explained that big data can be applied to current issues.

“For example,” Wagner explained, “Obamacare, and healthcare and all of these things are going to eventually become simpler to use as we apply big data to these kinds of public problems.”

Wagner further described the advantage of the multidisciplinary approach. A conference of this kind brings together governments that hold data, companies with computing power and universities that want to study the data. These agencies and companies provide a service to the community with the resulting knowledge of how to use data.

“Central Ohio, under the leadership of The Ohio State University, is in a better position than almost any place in the nation to take the lead on big data,” Wagner said. “This conference will help us to kind of focus ourselves in on some of the key questions.”

Big Data Future grew from an annual, single-day symposium that covered topics held by a law student group, I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society, which Shane advises. Big data turned out to be such an important topic that it led to an expansion into a three-day format for 2014.