ALMA Awarded for Data Science Collaboration Challenge
20 October, 2022 / Read time: 3 minutes
In its continuous quest to improve its processes and operate efficiently, ALMA is becoming a data-driven organization. One big step in that direction was to organize an open challenge among the Dataiku user community. Through Dataiku's licensing for nonprofit organizations (Ikig.AI), the observatory had access to a very supportive community in addition to training hours. Recognizing the first Dataiku Community's volunteer project, led by ALMA's Data Analyst and Data Science Initiative Lead, Ignacio Toledo, the jury composed of Dataiku executives and independent industry experts, awarded ALMA in the Most Impactful Ikig.AI Story category in the Dataiku Frontrunner Awards.
"We are very thankful to the Dataiku community," says Ignacio Toledo, ALMA Data Science Initiative Lead. "The volunteers have fostered our plan to transform the observatory into a data-driven observatory by engaging into real challenges we needed to face."
A major data-related challenge that the ALMA Observatory encounters is its observations' quality checks. The instruments used are not free from sporadic problems and bugs, and elements such as weather conditions are also at risk of negatively affecting the data acquisition process. If these issues are not detected early on, a significant amount of processing resources are wasted.
This was the basis for the volunteers' project led by Ignacio Toledo. It brought together 14 users from across the globe to collaborate and learn from each other's experimentation, supported by Dataiku data scientists and staff members from the observatory.
One of the outcomes of the challenge is a web app deployed at ALMA, providing astronomers on duty with a tool to check the main quality indicators of the latest observations produced. Within three minutes of observation, the data is visible on the web app, enabling astronomers to notice any anomaly quickly.
"Collaboration is one of the natural gains of becoming a data-driven organization," explains Stuartt Corder, ALMA Deputy Director. "The most complex challenges we face need the collaboration of cross-department and even cross-organizations to be successfully addressed."
ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ.