Esther Surden

On August 15, Governor Chris Christie signed  Bill A2218/S582, which formally designated the New Jersey Big Data Alliance (NJBDA) as the state’s advanced cyber infrastructure consortium.

According to Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, associate vice president for economic development at Rutgers University, the consortium is “unprecedented,” bringing together eight of the state’s higher education institutions, both public and private.

It was established to highlight New Jersey’s capabilities and reputation as a leader in advanced, cutting-edge technology.

“The alliance was created about a year ago in recognition of a need for higher education and the state to build advanced cyber infrastructure and advanced computation capabilities,” Brennan-Tonetta said at a press conference on Sept. 23.

Creating infrastructure in the state will be a costly endeavor, and the universities realized that the only way they could accomplish something this big would be if they all worked together, she added.

Through the alliance, the participants will build awareness of specialized computing equipment housed throughout the state, and will facilitate the sharing of this equipment by universities, industry, and government. The NJBDA will also be able to assess what infrastructure and technological expertise is missing from the mix.

“New York and Massachusetts have somewhat similar programs, but those programs were driven by the state government and were a top-down effort,” Brennan-Tonetta said. “This was a bottom-up effort, and I think that it will be very effective in terms of our willingness to work together and collaborate.”

Since the alliance’s foundation last year, it developed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) for all the eight institutions and held a big data conference with more than 210 attendees.

Now this bill has been passed and signed by the governor.

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