Two new institutions, the College of new Jersey and the NJ Research and Education Network nonprofit group, have joined a group called the Big Data Alliance. The two newcomers join current alliance participants — Rutgers, Montclair, NJIT, Kean, Rowan, St. Peters, Stockton, and the Stevens Institute of Technology. The alliance aims to develop joint educational and research programs, provide advanced computation resources to industry, and make advances in the use of “big data,” which is to say the massive quantities of information generated by modern Internet-connected devices.

Researchers use the term “big data” to refer to information created by smartphones, wearable devices, sensors, and anything else connected to the Internet. Collecting the data and turning it into useful information is the realm of big data science that the alliance hopes to tackle. The participants also believe it could be an economic driver in New Jersey.

The New Jersey Big Data Alliance is planning its fourth annual symposium at the New Jersey Institute of Technology for Thursday, March 16, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Campus Center ballroom at NJIT in Newark. This year’s theme is “Big Data Connects.” Tickets start at $10. For more information, visit njbda.weebly.com.

The alliance is also working on an industry affiliate program to engage business partners. Membership in the NJBDA is open to higher education institutions, industry, government, and non-profits.

“The signing of the memorandum of association by nine of the state’s top universities and NJEDge.Net (The NJ Research and Education Network) is key to making New Jersey a leader in advanced computing and big data analytics,” said Margaret Brennan-Tonetta, Rutgers associate vice president for economic development and a founder of the NJBDA, in a prepared statement. “The fact that the Alliance members pro-actively created this organization to increase access to advanced cyberinfrastructure technologies and big data expertise by academia, industry, and government demonstrates the commitment that we have to establish New Jersey as a leader in this field.”

The NJBDA received official sanction from the state government in 2014 when the legislature passed the “Big Data Bill” instructing universities to create an alliance to study big data as the “state’s advanced cyberinfrastructure consortium.” A second bill, calling for the NJBDA to create a cyber-infrastructure plan, is in a committee.

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