CMU-Q launches first SmartLab in GCC

 18 Feb 2016 - 3:02

CMU-Q launches first SmartLab in GCC
Officials at the event.

DOHA: Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q) yesterday announced to have launched an innovative digital laboratory for financial data analysis named ‘Qatar Security Market Analytics Research and Teaching Laboratory’ (Q-SmartLab), the first ‘smart lab’ in the Gulf that uses technology to explore financial big data.
Q-SmartLab contains a large interactive visual dashboard that aggregates real time information from the global financial markets. The lab allows users to sort information and analyse trends in financial markets on both a macro and micro scale.
“The concept behind Q-SmartLab evolved from a research project on conventional and Islamic financial institutions in Doha and the Gulf State region. We realised that we were sitting on massive amounts of data, and we needed some sort of mechanism to deliver it to the students and faculty using a formal platform,” said John O’Brien, Associate Dean of CMU-Q.
To create Q-SmartLab, O’Brien and Fuad Farooqi, assistant teaching professor, teamed up with Zeeshan Hanif, a research assistant and computer science graduate from CMU-Q. The inter-disciplinary collaboration was originally intended to be a teaching tool to connect theory with real world practice. The capstone course in financial markets, taught by O’Brien and Farooqi, has students evaluate the companies listed on the Qatar Stock Exchange (QSE) and formulate recommendations to optimise their “smart beta” portfolio. At the end of the course QR1m will be invested in this portfolio. The Q-SmartLab plays a key role in allowing the students to complete their research.
Before the course began, however, Q-SmartLab began to attract attention from industry. Q-SmartLab was presented to the World Federation of Exchanges (WFE) 55th General Assembly and Annual Meeting, hosted by the QSE, in October 2015.
Six weeks later, the team showcased the lab at the Euromoney Qatar Conference by superimposing real-time financial information on a satellite image of the globe. The result was a heat map of financial activity that revealed how regional activity unfolded in different global markets throughout the trading day.
The interest in Q-SmartLab was not restricted to the financial arena. CMU-Q was invited to attend the Civil Defense Exhibition and Conference in Doha from November 2 to 4. During this time, a typhoon was approaching the coast of Oman; using Q-SmartLab, the team showed conference attendees the real-time movement of the typhoon, the location of individual tankers in the Indian Ocean and the effect on regional markets.
“The applications for Q-SmartLab reach far beyond the financial world. When the typhoon hit, we could easily track information that is crucial to civil defense, for example, which is something we didn’t consider when we were first building it,” said O’Brien.
CMU-Q recently hosted the inaugural Q-SmartLab event, the Algorithmic Trading Hackathon, where the inter-disciplinary potential of Q-SmartLab was brought to light. With students representing the Business Administration, Information Systems and Computer Science programmes, the competition took place over three trials which corresponded to three live trading days at the New York Stock Exchange. The top two teams won a trip to New York City to visit the financial district and observe the day to day operations of the markets.