ECU, SAS Partner To Solve Rural Problems With Big Data

Feb 16, 2018

Jay Golden, left, ECU vice chancellor of research, economic development and engagement signs a memorandum of understanding with Shannon Lasater, senior consulting manager of SAS Education Practice, at the East Carolina Heart Institute on Nov. 2.
Credit Photo by Rhett Butler /

East Carolina University is on a mission to improve health and economic prosperity in rural parts of the state, and is using big data to pursue that goal.

The university announced this week it will be partnering with Cary-based analytics firm SAS.


One clear economic opportunity is for agriculture-reliant communities to grow crops for increasingly popular bio-based products and fuels, according to ECU Vice Chancellor Jay Golden.


"We have a lot of different types of crops we can use but we need to think through things like: where are the crops grown? What is their seasonality? What is the supply chain?" Golden said.


Golden thinks data can also inform farmers about when to plant crops as the climate changes.


Universities like ECU deal with a treasure trove of data. This initiative seeks to mine that data and other available public datasets.


One focus will be mining patient records from the university’s medical and dental schools to design a holistic approach to solving health problems unique to Eastern North Carolina.


The partnership with SAS continues ECU’s Rural Prosperity Initiative, which it launched last September.