New data tool available to staff, students

By Viola Zhou

Baylor students and faculty now have access to a free data-analyzing tool that generates tables and charts that can update themselves.

DataZoa is a portal in which users can access data from millions of sources and create their own graphs.

The graphs will be automatically updated when new data is released from the source.

Carl Flynn, director of marketing and communications for information technology and university libraries, said Baylor received a campus wide license for DataZoa in October.

Dr. Steve Gardner, chair of the economics department, said he initiated the partnership with DataZoa because it is useful in processing economic data.

“Most of the other data visualization tools are static,” Gardner said.

“You import data, you generate a graph, you publish that graph. DataZoa, from the very design, is set up to be continuously updating itself.”

Gardner said he doesn’t know how many students or other faculty members at Baylor have started using DataZoa.

“All of the technology is changing so rapidly,” Gardner said.

“It’s difficult for anybody, including faculty members, to continue to be aware of all these options we have available at Baylor. It’s important for us to make sure as many people as possible know we have them and how to use them.”

Students and faculty members can create DataZoa accounts with their Baylor email addresses at

Gardner said users of DataZoa can also set up Web pages and create reports that show the most recent results of the data they choose to look at.

Dr. Tom Kelly, professor of economics, said he is using DataZoa to analyze the Central Texas economy and predict its future performance.

He said DataZoa makes it efficient to trace the production and employment statistics in different industries.

“All the data is instantly available without me having to go out and download it into Excel, and from there create graphs,” Kelly said.

“Now it’s right there at my fingertips, so I can keep up with that all the time monitoring how the economy performs.”

Kelly said instead of wasting energy collecting the statistics, he is now able to spend more time interpreting the data and making conclusions.

Gardner said data-analyzing ability is crucial for students nowadays.

“The world is more and more a world of data-driven decision making,” Gardner said.

“Certainly Baylor students in almost any field need to understand this is the world we live in now.”

Gardner said the management information system department will offer a course teaching data visualization in the spring.

Students will use Tableau software to create detailed graphs.

He said the university is also using a tool called Splunk, which specializes in data security and can monitor traffic on the Baylor website.

“Be familiar with as many of these different tools as you can be,” Gardner said. “So when a particular project comes up, you know here is the right thing to use.”

Gardner said he persuaded the Waco Chamber of Commerce to share some of the cost of DataZoa license.

The chamber used to maintain its database monthly, which isn’t as cost-effective.

By managing data with DataZoa, the chamber’s website automatically gives the most recent statistics about the local economy.