In Spring 2018 the Brock University Centre for Sport Capacity (CSC) and the Digital Scholarship Lab (DSL) formed a partnership to continue developing the CSC’s initiative of creating a Niagara Sport Database (NSD).
According to Julie Stevens, Director of the CSC and Associate Processor of Sport Management, the idea for the NSD came from a CSC mandate to provide practical support to sport organizations. “Currently, there is no central voice for sport in Niagara and we hope the Niagara Sport Database will give us the information we need to advocate for sport and recreation in Niagara.” According to Stevens, the NSD will include three pillars: a region-wide facilities inventory to help infrastructure planning and coordinate sport event hosting; track and measure economic activity generated by small, medium and large sport events in Niagara; and to catalogue sport-related organizations across commercial, nonprofit and public sectors connected to sport. Stevens shared that the goal of this project is to “grow the CSC’s initial efforts to use information to help stakeholders and to attract more interest and support to help maintain and expand the scope of the data. We need to build awareness by sharing information in regards to the economic and community benefits of sport in Niagara.”
Cole McClean, a recent Brock graduate with a Masters in Sport Management and current CSC Coordinator, has been working on the NSD from its onset. McClean is already interacting with community stakeholders: “even at this stage it’s been great to sit down and have discussions with different individuals (for example, Parks and Rec managers) to see how it can help them. There’s been a very positive response to it.”
As the project continued to develop, conversations between Stevens, McClean and Acting Head of the DSL, Tim Ribaric, were initiated. Discussions led to a partnership which Stevens believes is beneficial to the project’s success; “it helps us construct a database for the long term, and then provides advice on how to collect, analyze and represent data so we can develop customized data visualizations for sport stakeholders.”
The CSC and DSL staff applied for a Match of Minds grant with the intention of hiring a student to assist with research and data management. Match of Minds grants are offered by the Office of Research Services, which provide support for research employment opportunities for students across faculties. Recently team was informed that they were successful in obtaining the grant.
According to Ribaric: “This grant represents our first official partnership with a unit on campus. We are looking forward to being able to build something together using some interesting new tools. I’m also looking forward to talking about how we completed the project and with luck develop some tools for people attempting the same type of work into the future. This type of collaboration really embodies what we mean when we use the term digital scholarship.”
For McClean, the grant will be a major boost to the project in general. “With it being such a large and time-consuming project, it is crucial from a technical standpoint to plan and build it properly. The knowledge and experience that the DSL members bring is exactly the support we need on this project. In general, we’re excited to keep working with the DSL, and being awarded this grant will only benefit the database.”
Thanks to the Match of Minds grant, 3rd year Brock University Computer Science student Cameron Andress has joined the team to begin work on the NSD. Andress brings with him a degree in architectural technology and business administration. Once he completes the computer-science-as-a-second-degree program, he plans on pursuing a masters degree in AI. Andress had shown a keen interest in digital scholarship and attended multiple workshops offered by the DSL. Andress took the opportunity to introduce himself to Ribaric and this networking opportunity let to obtaining this research position. Andress feels that the NSD will not only yield a central intelligence for sports collaborators, it will also aid in providing municipalities with the analytical evidence required to support sport facility construction.
According to Andress, being part of this team will have many benefits for him: “Knowledge of SQL and the ability to work in a collaborative environment are especially important. Pursuing artificial intelligence in the space/aerospace industry will absolutely require the knowledge and usage of databases and analytics. The largest benefit however, will be the supplementing of my learning SQL and the connections made along the way.”
Already seeing the benefit of having a DSL on Campus, McCLean felt it important to stress the opportunities that the DSL offers: “either for support on projects like this, or even the workshops they put on. I’ve personally been to quite a few and had a great experience with them. Some of these workshops have focused on learning about or how to use different programs and programming languages that are relevant to many different students, researchers and other employees at this university (such as Python, Power BI, Git, OpenRefine, or ArcGIS). Personally, I usually leave and immediately can think of ways to apply them to any research or other projects I’ve been working on. I hope more and more people take advantage of these resources on campus!”