Smart India: A Data Science Research Collaboration with Amity University

Last week saw four KMi researchers travel to Noida, near Delhi, for a week-long meeting with the senior team of Amity University. Amity University has around 175,00 students across 22 campuses in India and 13 more globally including in London, Dubai, New York, San Francisco, Amsterdam, South Africa and China.  This meeting followed a Memorandum of Understanding signed between the OU and Amity in Dubai in September, for research collaboration in three areas: Data Science, Education and Space. KMi’s Director Prof. John Domingue leads on the Data Science collaboration.

Within the collaboration in December a one-day online research workshop was held between KMi and Amity data science researchers to explore areas of common interest. At the end of that meeting it was agreed that KMi would collaborate in the areas of Data Analytics for Education and Health as well as Smart Cities. In Noida these three areas were represented by Dr. Martin Hlosta (Education), Dr. Allan Third (Health) and Dr. Enrico Daga (Smart Cities). Prof. John Domingue served as overall coordinator leading the collaboration with his Amity counterpart Dr. Selvamurthy President of the Amity Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The overall trip was very intense and a fabulous success. The meeting coincided with CONFLUENCE 2020 an annual IT conference organised by Amity University and all four KMi researchers gave a conference keynote as well as leading specific specialist OU/Amity research meetings. John gave an overview talk of KMi’s data science research in the Amity Boardroom at dedicated OU/Amity collaboration meeting chaired by Shri. Ajit K. Chauhan, Chairman, Amity Online, Amity Skills and Vocational Training and Deputy President. Martin led a meeting with Dr. Jeevanandam (Director of the Amity Ed Tech Company), Dr. Sushil Chandra (Amity Curriculum and Academics) to investigate how OU Analyse might be rolled out to all 175,000 Amity university students globally. We also discussed in the same meeting how KMi’s blockchain based micro accreditation framework could be applied across Amity universities.

Allan gave a keynote on Data Science for Health to members of a specially invited panel whose members included Dr. Harpreet Singh, Scientist and Head of the Division of Informatics Systems and Research Management ICMR-AIIMS Computational Genomics Centre Data Management Laboratory, Indian Council of Medical Research, Prashant Mishra MD and the India and South Asia representative for the British Medical Journal and Amity’s Dean of the Medical School.

Enrico explored potential collaborations in the area of smart cities with Prof. Devendra Pratap Singh (Director of the Amity School of Architecture and Planning), Prof. Anupam Saxena (Director of the School of Real Estate and Environment), and Dr Sarika Jain (Amity Institute of Information Technology). Topics included green buildings, construction waste management, buildings accessibility, and environmental quality assessment. The common perspective is the development of large-scale data capturing methods to support governance and influence policy-makers.

John and Martin also gave invited talks to 50 selected sixth-form Amity International School pupils under the direction of Mrs. Mohina Dar, Director (Academic Projects) Amity International and Global Schools.

The main meetings were held on Amity’s Noida campus which has 37,000 students. The KMi team also travelled to Amity’s University in Haryana which has 5,000 students to have meetings with their Vice Chancellor, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Head of Collaborations and their Dean of Science and Technology. The team presented an overview of KMi data science research to the university’s executive team and local faculty members and students.

The week-long meeting concluded with the signing of a document outlining how we will continue to work together in the short, medium and long term. In the short term KMi will look to host Amity research students and faculty and supervise PhD scholars remotely. All four KMi researchers hosted local Masters and PhD student round table discussions to facilitate matchmaking between specific KMi research areas and research student interests. After running a pilot we will explore licensing options for the deployment of OU Analyse at Amity. Our overall research collaboration will be under the umbrella of ‘Smart India’: applying a Smart City research lens at national scale and investigating how we can move towards a Knowledge Graph for India supporting enhanced health outcomes and educational opportunities.

The input from the whole KMi team was highly appreciated by our Amity hosts who showered us with gifts to show their appreciation. One of these ‘gifts’ was an honorary Professorship for John Domingue. John also had a conversation with Amity’s Founder President and Chairman of Amity Group of Institutions and Industries Dr. Ashok K. Chauhan about the, in his view, very positive impact of the visit to his institution. If our collaboration continues along the trajectory of this meeting then our research and societal impacts in India will be highly significant.

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Signing of the research agreement between the OU and Amity on Smart India
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Enrico Daga talking to Amity PhD and Masters students
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John meeting with the Vice Chancellor and Dean of Science of Amity University at Haryana
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Allan leading a discussion with PhD and Masters student
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Martin receiving a gift after his presentation to gifted Amity 6th form pupils
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John presenting KMi to senior researchers and the executive of Amity University at Haryana
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John presenting the Institute of Coding in the Amity Boardroom
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John and Martin on the Amity Noida Campus
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John lighting a lamp onstage to open the CONFLUENCE conference
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Allan and John visiting the Taj Mahal
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KMi Team interacting with 50 selected Amity 6th form pupils