Saturday, May 10th, 10:00am in the morning. Countless rain drops relentlessly keep falling from the dark heavens above, as if Nature is determined to play its part in the Big Data open day and show us how long it would rain over Groningen if every bit of information in our data storage was a rain drop. The Zernike campus is quiet and the jolly laughter of students is replaced by the mellow rustle of the chestnut leaves. The sliding doors of the Donald Smits Center for Information Technology suddenly open and we welcome our first visitors - a mid aged couple armed with heavy rain gear and strong curiosity to find out what is this big hype about Big Data. The sliding doors stayed mostly open for the rest of the day...
Target welcomed more than seventy visitors this Saturday during a Big Data open day, which was part of this year's "Europe around the corner" initiative organized by the Dutch government and the EU commission. People from all ages and all walks of life came to the Donald Smits Center for Information Technology (CIT) to learn what Big Data really is and how we, at Target, harness its potential to push forward science and technology, ultimately improving society's quality of life. Our Dutch and international visitors enjoyed presentations by our experts, tours around our data facilities and 3D shows at the high-tech visualization theater of the CIT. In addition, the public could see a demo of the Monk project which uses artificial intelligence and high performance computing to train computers to read hand-written historical documents. To further emphasize the big progress in computer technology in the last half a century, which has played a crucial role in allowing us to collect, store and process Big Data, we let our audience touch and play with a collection of cutting edge computer hardware from every decade since the 1960s at our modest computer history exhibition.
We wrapped up the day with a Big Data knowledge cafe. As if to defy the gloomy afternoon, a crowd of more than thirty people, with seemingly endless enthusiasm and curiosity engaged in a lively discussion with our Big Data experts, now and then posing an unexpectedly challenging question. The Big Data open day didn't escape the attention of the media. An article featuring the event appeared today in the highly rated Dagblad van het Noorden newspaper.
The rain has finally subsided...and the interest in Big Data has just grown bigger.
Acknowledgement: This event would not have been possible without the full support of the CIT management and communications team, and the computer experts and engineers who best understand Big Data. Special thanks goes to the CIT managing director Tjeerd Hobma who worked tirelessly the whole day to ensure the success of the Big Data open day.
Pictures from the Big Data Open Day: http://www.rug.nl/science-and-society/target/news-and-events/communications/picture-gallery/kijkdagen2014
More about Target: http://www.rug.nl/target
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