USIU launches social media research lab thanks to 20M American funding


The United States International University (USIU) has launched a Social Media Lab (SIMELab) in partnership with the United States Embassy. The lab is set to serve as an interdisciplinary center that will undertake research in Big Data and Social Media analytics.

Located at the Incubation and Innovation Center at USIU’s  Frieda Brown Student Center, the lab was officially launched on Thursday, April 5, 2018, by US Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Robert F. Godec, and USIU chancellor Dr. Manu Chandaria.

Speaking during the event, Godec confirmed that the United States Embassy–Nairobi will fund USIU with 20 Million shillings to support their project; they will then make use of the IBM Watson Analytics Social Media software to help students and other interested parties conduct research on social media. The data gathered is geared to be a useful resource for their research projects within the region.

Robert Godec further urged scholars to make use of social media platforms so as to undo the negative impact it poses to the community, “Digital technology presents huge opportunities but at the same time comes with big challenges such as insecurity and threat to privacy, therefore, everybody should put in effort to ensure social media is used in a manner that can help build the future,” he said.

USIU Chancellor Dr. Manu Chandaria and Vice Chancellors Prof. Paul T. Zaleza expressed their excitement in their collaboration with the U.S Government, The duo promised to work hard and obtain more partnerships with other governments as well as private sector players so as to create more opportunities for that enrich students’ learning experience.

The lab is set to provide an avenue for research dissemination on emerging issues in community development and governance by blending theoretical framework and analysis from academia with experiences of corporate, government and civil society. It will also address the scarcity of tools used for structuring social data. It was noted that inferring knowledge out of social data is essential at in era when the world is facing an increase in usage, spread, and adoption of cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT), along with the integration of social network platforms.



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