The inauguration of the National Center in Big Data and Cloud Computing took place at LUMS on May 4, 2018.

The PKR 1.5 Billion Center will be housed at LUMS and will comprise of 12 ‘Affiliated’ Labs at 11 Universities around the country including LUMS, EME College, PNEC, UETL, UETP, ITU, SZABIST, FAST-NU, CECOS, Ziauddin University and UAF and employ 50 of the country’s leading Analytics and Cloud researchers.

The guests at the ceremony were welcomed by Dr. Naveed Arshad, Interim Director, NCBC and Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, LUMS. He said that data is gold in this age and facilities such as this lab will provide the means to process and analyze the data to solve world problems.

He shared that the Center came about after the Higher Education Commission (HEC) of Pakistan launched a competition and called out to all the research groups working in Pakistani Universities in the field of Big Data and Computing. They were invited through EOI and had to go through a rigorous process of selection including three rounds of competition. “The NCBC will be mainly focused on R&D and human resource development in the specialized field of Big Data and Cloud Computing. The role of Big Data Analytics and Cloud Computing is growing in many businesses and applications become extremely critical to economic growth and national competitiveness. The idea is to provide a platform for promoting a culture of Big Data Analytics and Cloud Computing industry and related businesses,” explained Dr. Arshad.

Dr. Athar Osama, Member Science and Technology Planning Commission said, “With NCBC, not only will we have partner labs across Pakistan working in diverse fields of medicine, agriculture, energy, social work and so on but we will also provide High-Performance Computing Facility at four locations spread throughout the country. These facilities will not only be open to partner labs but to other researchers in big data and cloud computing.”

Dr. Osama further elaborated that in addition to the four HPC facilities, NCBC will also create an open data portal. “Selected dataset will be available on the portal from a wide range of public, semi-public and possibly private entities. Availability of such datasets will enable anybody to analyze the data and suggest innovative solutions,” he said.

Addressing the gathering, Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that this was an auspicious day for Pakistan marked by a realization of a dream, which would take Pakistan forward towards positioning itself as a knowledge economy in which prosperity will one day be driven by data which is the “new oil”.

At the Center, the following selected labs will be working in a diverse range of fields including Agriculture, Medicine, Health, Energy, Internet of things, Astronomy and others: