June 24, 2014 – The Barrie Examiner – Lakehead, local publisher partner for project
A local web-based business 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 in its market.
Third Sector Publishing, based in Orillia, has an online resource, CharityCAN (charitycan.ca), which provides information on more than 85,000 Canadian charities and foundations, as well as the individuals and organizations that donate to them. In co-operation with the Globe and Mail, the company recently launched the Top 1,000 Non-Profits Report, modelled on the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business ranking of corporations.
The project with Lakehead is focused on the rapidly growing 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 Rachid Benlamri, professor of software engineering at the Thunder Bay campus, a research team including two master’s students and two research assistants is 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 (have) not been 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 the first step in what could lead to bigger projects in the future. Two federal funding bodies — the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council 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 Charity become more effective and solidify its leading position in the non-profit prospect research market.”