About Us

IDIA is a partnership of South African universities and industry created to respond to the emerging challenge of the new era of big data in astronomy. The University partners include the University of Cape Town, The University of the Western Cape, North-West University, and the University of Pretoria, with SAP joining as an industry partner. 

The construction of the SKA precursor telescope MeerKAT in South Africa marks the beginning of the astronomy big data revolution in Africa. IDIA brings together researchers in astronomy, computer science, statistics, high performance computing and eResearch technologies to create data science capacity and solutions on the pathway to the Square Kilometre Array.

The advent of MeerKAT, and subsequently the SKA, produces an enormous challenge for astronomers in their journey through the radio universe. The huge technological and scientific advances in the past few decades have lead to a new paradigm for radio astronomy. This involves large teams of international researchers, enormous data volumes and new challenges in the processing and analysis of the huge datasets produced.

IDIA aims to address each of these challenges through the development of several work-packages, each of which will focus on the distinct aspects related to the following issues: big data, distributed data systems and federated cloud infrastructure, computing architectures for the processing of large astronomical data sets, visual analytics of big data and data science research for mining and scientific analysis of astronomy data sets.

Since our launch in 2015, the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy has made invaluable connections with parastatal and private companies, which include:

  • the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory (HartRAO),
  • IBM-Dome,
  • the National Radio Astronomy Observatory,
  • the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO),
  • the Square Kilometre Array South Africa (SKA-SA),
  • and the South African Astroinformatics Alliance.

The institute provides the unprecedented opportunity for universities and researchers across South Africa and the world to unite in the pursuit of scientific discovery.