June 26, 2019
By Emily F. Keller
NSF Awards $4 Million to West Big Data Innovation Hub, Supporting CUAC Projects

The National Science Foundation has issued a second round of funding for the Big Data Innovation Hubs established in 2015, which build and support cross-sector partnerships to enhance the application of data science to societal and scientific challenges. The new funding doubles the amount awarded in the first round, providing $4 million to each of four regional U.S. hubs – Midwest, Northeast, South and West. As part of the West Hub, this award will support several core projects of the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative (CUAC).

The West Big Data Hub, representing 13 states, is coordinated by the University of Washington, the University of California - Berkeley and the University of California - San Diego. Bill Howe, UW Director of CUAC, is a Co-Principal Investigator of the West Hub with Sarah Stone, Executive Director of the eScience Institute and a West Hub Deputy Director. Ed Lazowska, Founding Director of the eScience Institute and a UW professor of computer science and engineering, is the UW Principal Investigator.

The West Hub’s second round will focus on developing and enabling translational data science, with initiatives on natural resource management, housing instability, transportation safety, and understanding risk and opportunity in data sharing. CUAC will contribute to the integration of data from multiple jurisdictions to study the influence of neighborhood change, service delivery and demographics on outcomes for homeless families. This builds on prior work of the Transportation Data Collaborative, by incorporating housing and population health data into a trusted data repository (piloted with transportation data) that focuses on improving fairness in analytic methods, preserving privacy, protecting data owners’ proprietary information and promoting transparency; and the Neighborhood Change Project, which recently contributed to legislative change on housing and evictions laws in Washington State.

Based on the UW Data Science for Social Good program, launched in 2015, the West Hub will also create a training course and guide to assist organizations in creating programs that pair student fellows with data scientist mentors and project leads from academia, government or the private sector.

Prior projects of the West Hub have focused on access to safe drinking water, cataloging all 20,000 human proteins to understand disease, and using data science to improve transportation safety. The initial funding also supported work to produce frameworks and resources supporting multiple areas of inquiry and practice, such as data sharing, cloud computing to responsible data science.

The award was chronicled in a UW News article.