Business owners, world leaders, and citizens from every background are using unprecedented amounts of data. Data powers the decisions made at farms and factories, and inform both the price of oranges and Apple computers. In both its abundance and its value, data has become the 21st century’s natural resource.
But as with those of the previous century, this new natural resource is nothing without refinement.
ThinkData Works was proud to act as the data refinery for the first ever Human Dimensions Open Data Challenge, developed by Compute Canada, SSHRC (Social Sciences Human Research Council), and the OCE (Ontario Centres of Excellence). The challenge took the form of a three month competition that challenged teams to
“Use open data to develop systems, processes or fully-functional technology applications that address the human dimensions to key challenges in the natural resources and energy sectors.”
The four organizations above are ideally suited to provide the infrastructure for the challenge. Compute Canada deploys state-of-the-art advanced research computing systems, and SSHRC, a research based organization, fosters independent thinking and creative inquiry in social science and the humanities. The OCE specializes in working with academics and industry professionals to bring prospective partners together to turn ideas into income, and ThinkData Works aggregates and deploys external data in standard formats.
For the Challenge, ThinkData curated a catalogue of both open and external data sets that pertained to both natural resource development, in the form of well locations, their production, and abandoned mines, but also the people and environments that this development affects. By providing data from hundreds of sources on a standard hub, ThinkData Works gave participants the opportunity to tie together data that is often separated by a canyon of usability.
The size and scope of these data are impressive, and it was through them that new insight into Canada’s physical, socioeconomic, and cultural landscape was made possible.