RTI International is stepping up its efforts to take advantage of growing amounts of “big data” and the need to analyze it by forming a new Center for Statistical and Data Sciences.

Craig Hill, RTI’s vice president of survey and computing services, will lead the group as acting director.

“Big data” is nothing new for RTI, which Hill says has been involved in “close to 100 ’big data’ or data science-type projects in the past year.” However, the new effort will allow improved coordination of RTI resources.

Staff members will include data modelers, computational scientists, statisticians and experts in predictive analytics.

Some additional scientists also will be hired.

RTI announced the effort Thursday.

“We are creating an analytic core within RTI that will have the tools, techniques and abilities to answer the big data questions for all areas of expertise at RTI,” Hill said in a statement.

“Every one of our research areas across RTI will encounter the need to answer big questions using big data and data science techniques or approaches. We’re integrating a set of functional experts to help our clients answer those questions in all RTI’s research areas from energy to health.”

RTI offered its own definition of big data: “{A} collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.”

According to Hill, the non-profit research institution can bring many capabilities to bear.

“Marrying the skills of these experts to those of RTI’s subject matter experts makes a powerful combination that should help solve society’s most pressing problems,” Hill said.

“These data science approaches allow us to analyze massive amounts of data, quickly, and model or predict outcomes as opposed to merely describing the current—or past—state of any phenomenon we’re studying.”

[RTI archive: Check out more than a decade of RTI stories as reported in WRALTechWire.]