High performance computing, big data analysis, deep and machine learning algorithms, high bandwidth networks are technological pillars of digital society. Thanks to them, a wide range of future scientific, technological and societal challenges can be met to pursue growth in many sectors of the economy and society. The opportunities are many and yet not all predictable. These challenges will require the development of new skills and of new technologies.
Large investments in ICT infrastructures and technologies, such as high performance computing, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and big data, as well as in research and innovation, inclusiveness and skills are the priorities for Europe in order for it to benefit from the digital economy potential.
In Italy, research bodies such as INFN, CNR, ENEA, GARR and CINECA have already implemented big data via high performance computing and e-infrastructures to support major research and academic communities. Most of these Italian high performance and high throughput computing resources are concentrated in the North of Italy, especially in Emilia-Romagna, where they are well integrated into the local knowledge and business systems, consisting of universities and research centres, large-cap and mid-cap companies, as well as international players that are new entries in the local scenario. The datacentre of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), which is going to be set up in Bologna, will bring other prominent computing and analytics capabilities, with the potential of further exploiting available expertise, infrastructures and facilities, by generating new local economic and societal opportunities.
Since 2015, stakeholders involved in supercomputing and big data production and management have engaged in mapping and analyzing their potential impact on scientific, social and business domains: thus, the Associazione Big Data was set up to interconnect and jointly exploit the knowledge, capacities, research and innovation potentials of this community to leverage the effects of actions and investments made so far and to maximize their impacts, locally but also at national, EU and international levels.
The “Associazione Big Data” mission is to facilitate:
- the sharing and exploiting of existing results, knowledge, capacities, research and innovation initiatives and frameworks;
- cooperation between public and private entities, maximizing the leverage effects of R&I public and private investments;
- joint actions including coordination, planning, facilitating and promoting relevant R&I actions, policies and international cooperation activities;
- researcher careers, training and mobility and, in general, the development of skills in the big data and AI domains.
More precisely, the Association shall operate in the following economic and societal sectors and disciplinary contexts:
- the economic system, with special attention to mid-cap companies, in order to facilitate its access to big data processing and related analytic tools, high bandwidth networking and high performance and high throughput computing in order to increase competitiveness and stimulate job creation and economic growth.
- the public administrations, in order to support awareness and implementation of well-developed data and computing based infrastructures to provide better services to citizens in the education, health, environment, mobility and security, in order to foster a more widespread, effective and citizen-friendly e-government system at national and local level.
- the knowledge community, in order to enhance its ability to analyze large amount of data from experiments, observations, monitoring and sensoring systems and to process more detailed and complete data series to assess or gain insight of the investigated phenomena.