SMU’s National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) and the Philadelphia-based non-profit DataArts merged over the summer to create SMU DataArts. DataArts has focused on the development, implementation, and operations of a platform called the Cultural Data Project (CDP). The CDP is a comprehensive survey that connects participating arts organizations with grant-making organizations safely and securely.
The CDP platform is built and maintained on an open-source system, which means the software and operating system source code is made freely available. The technical team develops and deploys software in an Agile Software Development model (see: https://www.agilealliance.org/agile101/).
The SMU DataArts technical team merged into the Office of Information Technology into the existing Applications team, creating an exciting opportunity for the sharing of best practices and development methods. For example, the SMU DataArts team has adopted SMU Wiki (https://wiki.smu.edu) as a primary documentation repository, much in the same way the OIT teams have in the past. Meanwhile, the SMU Applications team is learning about the agile philosophies employed by DataArts.
The partnership with OIT started strong and early in the merger process, reviewing possible license and infrastructure savings of the combined organization.
One of the most exciting possibilities surrounds data and analytics. How can we take the arts organization data and aggregate it into potential insights for researchers beyond what has existed in the past? We envision a pipeline that will ultimately transform the data into specific outputs, whether it be funding reports or advanced research. The next year promises to be exciting as the teams find ways to integrate methodologies while finding exciting ways to transform data into information.