Establishment of data centre at Mzuzu University: A survey of anticipations and aspirations of key project stakeholders
Keywords:Data centre, Data Literacy, Data Management, Mzuzu University, Malawi
Mzuzu University lost its Library as a result of a fire that took place on December 18, 2015. In response, the university established two processes to ensure the library services were not interrupted. The first process was to restore information services within six months by creating an interim Library. The second was to design a new library in collaboration with Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Design in the United States. A total of three conceptual designs were developed, from which Mzuzu University selected a final design. One key aspect of each conceptual design was a dedicated space for a data centre. The initial concept was that the data centre would support research activities at the University, within Malawi, and with international partners outside Malawi, such as Virginia Tech. This paper captures the anticipations and aspirations of the key stakeholders involved with the library design project at Mzuzu University in Malawi and Virginia Tech in the USA. Data were captured by a survey that was shared via email with 29 stakeholders. A total of 10 responded at Mzuzu University, and 12 responded at Virginia Tech. A key finding from the survey was the need to create clear plans for each aspect of the project to ensure the effective implementation of the data centre. Critical aspects to the project include staffing, equipment procurement, the management of the data centre, data literacy programming, and the long-term sustainability of the data centre. Developing a policy/process to guide the operations of the data centre was also found to be critical. The library construction began in February 2021 and is expected to end in February 2023. Having a clear plan for how the data centre could be operationalized will be essential to ensuring the centre is successful. The data centre will be a new facility for the university and this paper is a first step towards shaping the requirements of, and potential for, this new facility.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Felix Majawa, Ralph P. Hall
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