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New Research Data Centre opens at Nipissing University

'This is certainly a feather in the cap for Nipissing University.' - Nipissing-Timiscaming MP Anthony Rota
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DrDavidZarifaDataResearchcentremay2017
Dr. David Zarifa talks about the new Research Data Centre located on Nipissing University Campus. Photo by Chris Dawson.

Nipissing University is now home to a Statistics Canada Research Data Centre (RDC), a high-level, secure network and data lab that provides researchers with local access to Statistics Canada’s confidential, large-scale survey data.

Nipissing University is joining 28 other Research Data Centres located at other universities across Canada as part of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network (CRDCN).  

The new data centre is located in a 700 square foot secure facility on Nipissing University Campus and the news of its operation was announced today at a press conference.    

Dr. David Zarifa, is an associate professor in the Sociology Department at Nipissing University, but he is also the new Statistics Canada Research Chair in charge of the new facility.   

“It is a very secure facility,” noted Dr. Zarifa during Wednesday’s media conference which took place in the main foyer of Nipissing Universtiy.  

”Throughout the whole process we have been working with Statistics Canada to make sure that everything was up to code and they came in and did a final audit to make sure its secure - both from a network side and physically secure.”    

Nipissing now has the northernmost data centre in Ontario. 

Researchers can now visit Nipissing University to access data collected from a long list of surveys to help them explore a wide variety of Canadian social and economic issues on education, work, aging, literacy and numeracy, health, mental health and well-being, nutrition, information and communication technology,

“So this really makes it a lot more accessible, not only for us as researchers but also for our students to get their hands on this confidential Data that Statistics Canada produces,” said Dr. Zarifa.  

“We are a young university but we are building a very strong research culture right now and this will definitely stimulate a lot of really good quantitative research among our faculty here.”  

The Stats Canada Research Data Centre is not just specific to faculty and students at Nipissing University.  In 2016, over 1,500 researchers accessed one of the 28 university-based facilities located across the country.   

“I can leave my office and go down a couple of floors and access the data rather than hop on a plane or make a significant trip which really makes it more feasible to work with students side by side. It’s one thing for me to go to Toronto or Ottawa, but to take your students along with you, the cost goes up, the time commitment goes up, so this really makes it possible for us here are Nipissing University,” said Dr. Zarifa.  

But building a secure facility of this nature is not cheap as it came with a price tag of $363,000, including close to $105,000 from the John R Evans Leaders Fund along with another $104,820 from the Ontario Research Fund from the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.   

“This is certainly a feather in the cap for Nipissing University and anybody looking at serious research will have to take a second look at Nipissing,” stated Nipissing-Timiscaming MP Anthony Rota who was on hand as part of the federal funding announcement.