Researcher Spotlight: Making the connection with Haruna Isah

How a Queen’s post-doctoral fellow is bridging industry and academia to develop IoT technologies

It’s not everyday you get an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research in Internet of Things, but for one talented PhD student, that’s what happened. Originally from Nigeria, Haruna Isah received his PhD from the University of Bradford in the U.K. His studies centered on social media mining or applying big data techniques to criminal intelligence. While finishing his PhD in the U.K, Isah saw an opportunity to work on a project that was borne out of a unique industry-academic collaboration and decided to relocate. “Canada has always been at the top of my radar for its sense inclusiveness and the opportunities to innovate,” says Isah, who is now settled with his family in Ontario since October 2017.

Isah has joined a research team led by Farhana Zulkernine, an Assistant Professor from Queen’s University’s School of Computing. Through SOSCIP, the team have sparked a collaboration with an Ottawa-based company Gnowit Inc. to build infrastructure that can support real-time predictive analytics to meet the demands of their increasing customer base. Gnowit is a real-time media monitoring company that services media, big pharma and finance companies in North America and Europe using advanced Artificial Intelligence to absorb nearly every story published online, from reputable news outlets to social media feeds and blogs. Advanced machine learning techniques are then utilized for brand monitoring, business competitiveness and consumer intelligence.

Isah’s principle aim is to help build new technology that will enhance Gnowit’s existing software and enable them to be competitive in an emerging market.  “We are building a modern infrastructure that is scalable, flexible and able to implement all of Gnowit’s activities without experiencing the lags that they are currently facing,” says Isah, who is overseeing all components of the infrastructure. The three key elements to the infrastructure is an ingestion system, the processing system or engine, and the intelligent data storage.

Accessing the SOSCIP Cloud Analytics Platform

SOSCIP is providing its Cloud Analytics Platform to facilitate and design the functions Isah is trying to achieve. Access to the platform allows Isah and his team to design a system that can ingest data from anywhere across the globe using all open-source software. “The access and collaboration with SOSCIP have opened my eyes to the difference in the research I was doing as a PhD student. I was just working in the lab. Any PhD research that has no impact is a disconnect,” Isah explains.

Isah was recently recognized as a finalist in the Ontario Advanced Research Computing Congress (OARCC) Lightning Round Competition that was hosted by Compute Ontario in May 2018. In the competition, researchers had to demonstrate the impact of their R&D projects in three minutes. The capacity to condense a year’s work in three minutes, although challenging, proved to be rewarding. “The experience was great! It connected me to so many individuals in industry and I received many congratulatory messages on my LinkedIn,” says Isah.

The privilege to gain industrial skills while applying his academic expertise in the SOSCIP collaborative project has encouraged Isah to consider other similar opportunities in the future.