Applying geoinformation in data science

May 8th, 2018, Published in Articles: PositionIT

“Everything evolves around data – it’s the way forward,” said Enathi Motolwana, a University of Pretoria (UP) honours student who participated in the CSIR’s Data Science for Impact and Decision Enablement (DSIDE) programme. Motolwana and fellow UP graduate, Luqmaan Hassim, recently shared their experience in the programme with UP undergraduates in the Centre for Geoinformation Science’s lecture series.

Victoria Rautenbach, Luqmaan Hassim, Enathi Motolwana and Cameron Green.

Victoria Rautenbach, Luqmaan Hassim, Enathi Motolwana and Cameron Green.

Motolwana and Hassim said that DSIDE is welcoming to newcomers to the field of data science and encouraged students to consider joining the programme for the valuable skills it teaches. DSIDE, which aims to support capacity building in the growing field of data science by getting recruits to participate in mentor-guided practical problem solving, recruits vacation students for four weeks during June/July (phase 1) and for eight weeks in December/January (phase 2).

Geo-informatics ties in well with data science, said Motolwana. Both his project and Hassim’s, along with others in the programme, included spatial data analyses. The programme, however, draws participants from disciplines as far afield as the humanities, said Motolwana.

DSIDE is run by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and funded by the Department of Science and Technology. Many of its projects come from industry and call for creative solutions, some of which were on show earlier this year. These included a data solution for seismic monitoring and early warning, a solution that helps to target municipal spending and a solution which analyses data to detect electricity fraud.

The lecture series of twelve talks invites public and private sector geo-industry experts to expose students to the profession, inspire them, and show them how their degrees and skills can be applied, explained Victoria Rautenbach, a lecturer in the department. She added that the department draws students from various disciplines, ranging from geoinformatics and geography, to meteorology, geology, environmental science, and sometimes even plant sciences, physics and chemistry.

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