Ability to analyse, utilise data key to economic development

Danial Norjidi

In today’s world the digital economy has become a part of economic development in every country, even if at different scales, and it has become evident that data-enabled solutions, services and businesses form major pillars in these digital economies.

This was highlighted by Acting Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) Haji Ady Syarmin bin Haji Mohd Taib during the Brunei Darussalam National Finals of the ASEAN Data Science Explorers (ADSE) Competition 2019.

“The ability to harvest, store and process enormous amounts of data in different digital forms, in addition to figuring out ways to benefit from this data and create value out of it, are both distinguishing features of the era of Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data,” said the acting vice-chancellor.

“Governments and businesses have now moved on from discussing the importance and value of digital forms of data to planning ahead to address data management and quality issues, and how to secure and preserve the data to alleviate any privacy concerns.”

He highlighted that recent breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence (AI) were actually powered by huge amounts of data-fuel, opening the doors to highly accurate levels of performance in many applications, such as image detection and recognition, autonomous driving cars, voice recognition and virtual assistants, language translation and other medical and pharmaceutical applications.

Acting Vice-Chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) Haji Ady Syarmin bin Haji Mohd Taib speaks during the Brunei Darussalam National Finals of the ASEAN Data Science Explorers (ADSE) Competition 2019. PHOTO: UTB

“UTB recognised at an early stage the importance of producing graduates who understand data analytics potentials and who have the technical knowledge and practical skills to apply them in multiple domains.”

He said that the School of Computing and Informatics therefore designed and offered an undergraduate programme in Computing with Data Analytics, which accepted its first intake in August 2017.

“Those students, who will be graduating in two years’ time, will be able to use appropriate technologies and develop software solutions, to process and analyse medium and big size data of diverse structures; visualise data to provide insightful presentations; explore data and apply analytics techniques to support data-based decision making in organisations; build predictive models to derive value from available data; and communicate analytics results to various stakeholders.”

The acting vice-chancellor noted that other academic programmes in UTB, such as Petroleum and Chemical Engineering, also incorporate in their curriculum modules and components computing skills and techniques necessary to process, visualise and analyse dynamic data from their field of study, such as processing and plotting well-logs drilling data and analysing geological data.

The same applies to programmes from UTB School of Business that teach modules on Social Media Analytics, Business Intelligence and Decision Support Systems.

“Data analytics is a domain in constant motion, and therefore UTB academics put a lot of effort into updating the curriculum to keep up with the latest trends and changes in the field. Besides, their research works and supervised projects at undergraduate and postgraduate levels help the students to stay in touch with real-world challenges and problems from respective industries and societies.

“For example, in recent years UTB embarked on several research and project-based collaborations involving data analytics, with government agencies and international institutions.”

These include the studies and projects on: Road Accident Data Development and Enhancement; Understanding Cancer Therapy Effectiveness – Personalised Treatment Guidelines using Data Analytics; Crime Records Management and Analysis; Predicting UTB Undergraduates’ Performance using Data Mining; and A Data Mining Approach for Inventory Forecasting: A Case Study of a Medical Store.

“In addition, UTB saves no effort in exposing its students to relevant events and competitions, such as the ASEAN Data Science Explorers Competition, to sharpen their skills, explore new platforms and strengthen their connections with real world challenges,” he added.