June 16, 2014 – Orillia, ON
A local web-based business has recently partnered with a Lakehead University software engineering team to develop a software system that will help bring the company to a leading edge position within its market.
Third Sector Publishing, based in Orillia, has an online resource, CharityCAN, which provides information on over 85,000 Canadian charities and foundations, as well as on the individuals and organizations that donate to them. In cooperation with the Globe and Mail, the company recently launched the “Top 1,000 Non-Profits Report,” modelled on the Globe’s Report on Business ranking of corporations.
The project with Lakehead is focused on the rapidly growing new research field of “big data,” the term used to describe the vast and complex amount of data available online.
“For any business that relies on the organization and retrieval of online data, this exponential growth – caused by continually increasing computer power – is a challenge,” said Anderson Charters, president of Third Sector Publishing. “The more complex our data becomes, the more important it is that we have sophisticated methods and tools to automate search tasks.”
Under the direction of Lakehead’s Dr. Rachid Benlamri, professor of Software Engineering at the Thunder Bay campus, a research team including two Master’s students and two research assistants are working with Third Sector Publishing to develop a software system to automate the content search requirements of CharityCAN.
“This groundbreaking research is an exciting project for us, as there has not many papers studying ‘big data’,” said Benlamri. “Our students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge and creativity to cutting edge research and witness, first hand, how it will be used in a real company.”
The project is funded in part by the Ontario Centres of Excellence, which sees this project as just the first step in what could lead to bigger projects in the near future. Two federal funding bodies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and Connect Canada, also support the project.
“We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity of working with Dr. Benlamri and his research team,” said Charters. “The software and information technology developed from this project will help CharityCAN become more effective and solidify its leading position in the non-profit prospect research market.”
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Members of a Lakehead University business partnership team working on a state-of-the-art project in the new research field of “big data” (l–r): Lakehead University research assistant Greg Hill; Jamieson Bruce, Third Sector Publishing; Third Sector Publishing President Anderson Charters; Lakehead University student Kyle Galvin; Dr. Rachid Benlamri, Professor, Lakehead University; and Tim Charters, Third Sector Publishing.
In 2015, Lakehead University will celebrate 50 years of exceptional education. Guided by a new Strategic Plan (2013-2018), our University is known for providing an education focused on independent thinking, unconventional scholarship, and a close sense of community. About 9,700 students and 2,000 faculty and staff learn and work in ten faculties at two campuses, in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Home to Ontario’s first new Faculty of Law in 44 years (Fall 2013) and the Northern Ontario School of Medicine's West Campus, Lakehead is among Canada’s Top 10 undergraduate universities (2014 Maclean’s University Rankings), as well as 1st in Ontario and 2nd in Canada for its innovative research (Re$earch Infosource). Our Orillia campus is the first in North America to be built entirely to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) standards. Share your Lakehead story as it relates to our Strategic Plan at www.lakeheadu.ca/presidents-office/nurturing-passion, and learn more about Lakehead at www.lakeheadu.ca.