Big Data is getting its own aesthetically-pleasing playground in the heart of Waterloo Region with the new Communitech Data Hub. The Data Hub, located at a former police station on Erb Street, is built on the same model as the existing Communitech Hub in downtown Kitchener: live with Communitech’s customers (local companies at every level of growth); engage with enterprises, startups, and the community; and facilitate communications between those audiences.
The Communitech Data Hub aims to be a centre of excellence in everything data, according to Kevin Tuer, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Communitech. He said it culminates three years of effort that aims to share the power of data.
“There are millions and billions of sensors that are, or will be, collecting data across the planet. But to what purpose?” – Kevin Tuer, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Communitech
“We asked ourselves how we could help our companies and take advantage of the interest in data. This was when IoT was starting to be a hot button for everyone, and data tied to that, but we wanted to go beyond the device and focus on the data itself,” said Tuer.
Those discussions led to the launch of the Open Data Exchange (ODX) almost two years ago. The ODX is a private and public initiative to help companies tap into open data for commercialization. The ODX will now reside in the Communitech Data Hub and offer guidance to companies exploring use of open data.
“There are millions and billions of sensors that are, or will be, collecting data across the planet. But to what purpose?” Tuer asked, noting a key differentiator in the ODX and their work at the Communitech Data Hub is very much the specific exploration of commercial uses for data. “There’s an appetite and an interest in understanding the opportunity for every industry to benefit from big data.”
The hub creates collaborative space for a mix of tech and data-driven companies and enterprise partners. In fact, Tuer hopes that growing companies will look to the data hub as a place to have their data teams embrace the collaboration opportunities with other companies, rather than the complete company sitting at the hub.
The data hub is focused on cross-pollination, according to Tuer, who said that Communitech will work with a limited number of enterprise partners from different sectors to bring a wealth of knowledge and opportunities from different areas.
The Communitech Data Hub opens with support from the City of Waterloo, Quantum Valley Investments, and CIBC. CIBC, the lead enterprise partner at the Communitech Data Hub, has launched a Data Studio at the hub and hopes to work with the emerging “data community” in Waterloo Region to enhance their customer experience.
The CIBC Data Suite will host several CIBC data scientists who will work with University of Waterloo co-op students, the ODX, and startups to collaborate on open data and its benefits. CIBC said that one key objective will be to explore agile development within the data sciences group.
The Communitech Data Hub will have about 75 to 85 desks available for companies to rent for about $150 per month, and no more than 10 will be rented to any company. Applications are open on Communitech’s website.