|Roy van der Werp
| The visit to South Africa by Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte included a pivotal South African-Dutch data science partnership between key institutions from both countries bringing us closer to understanding the volume of data generated by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), was signed on Tuesday, 17 November 2015.
This signals the unlocking of the hidden secrets in the immense amount of data generated by SKA - the world's biggest radio telescope. The agreement is part of the visit to South Africa by the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mr Mark Rutte, and his trade delegation of 75 companies.
SKA South Africa and the University of Cape Town, through the newly established Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with fellow research institutions in the Netherlands, IBM, ASTRON and NWO to collaborate in a ground-breaking research project entitled Precursor Regional Science Data Centres for the SKA (SKA-RSDC).
Professor Michael Garrett, ASTRON's general and scientific director says: "The signing of this agreement is a big step - it ensures that the huge amounts of data SKA is expected to generate in South Africa can be fully exploited by Dutch users. It is part of our ambition for Europe to have a regional scientific data centre for SKA, with a central coordinating role for The Netherlands."
Alexander Brink of IBM Science Alliances: "This South African addition to the existing collaboration between IBM Research and ASTRON is a logical step towards a wider application of innovations in handling large amounts of data. Science in the areas of data and IT forms a trinity with infrastructure and the socio-economic ecosystem. Several societal themes, such as life sciences, energy and water management, need IT research. Breakthroughs resulting from this collaboration will have a direct and positive impact in these areas, in terms of innovative power."
The techniques developed can, in turn, be applied in other fields such as big data analytics, high performance computing, green computing, and visualisation analytics.
MoU signatories: Mike Garrett, representing NWO and ASTRON; Alexander Brink, representing IBM; Jasper Horrell, representing SKA-SA/NRF; and Russ Taylor, representing IDIA/UCT.