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.”