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Distributed data crawler for Boston University

RichBrains successfully created a scalable, custom-built distributed data crawler for Boston University. This solution, tailor-made to stream APIs from platforms like Twitter, was capable of processing millions of posts in near real-time, providing the university with the ability to conduct comprehensive, data-driven research at an unprecedented scale and speed.
Distributed data crawler for Boston University


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Boston University is a pre-eminent global research institution conducting interdisciplinary, groundbreaking studies across a broad range of fields. A considerable part of the university’s research repertoire involves the analysis of social media data. Twitter, known for its real-time content and vast user base, presented an immense resource for understanding societal trends, gauging public sentiment, and contributing to various other research aspects.

Business challenge

The university’s ambitious research agenda was challenged by the lack of an efficient system to extract and analyze the vast data available on social media platforms like Twitter. With the absence of a pre-existing solution potent enough to handle the fast-paced, enormous volume of data, the potential for using this wealth of social media data to drive in-depth, real-time research was largely unexplored and untapped.

They were in a position where they needed to not only keep up with the fast-evolving digital landscape but also stay ahead of it to maintain their competitive edge in the global research arena.

With a clear understanding of their needs, Boston University decided to commission a custom-built data crawler. They sought a robust solution that could handle real-time data streaming from Twitter’s API, rapidly processing large volumes of data. The new solution should seamlessly integrate with their existing systems and be scalable enough to handle other APIs as research needs expanded.

The university also required the system to have the versatility to filter data based on specific research criteria, ensuring each research project could access relevant and targeted data. After a thorough evaluation of several vendors, Boston University chose RichBrains, confident in our strong expertise in digital transformation, data migration, and integration projects.
Taking up this ambitious project, RichBrains developed a scalable distributed data crawler from scratch. The solution we proposed involved using cutting-edge technologies like Kafka and Spark Streaming. Kafka was employed to handle real-time data ingestion, and Spark Streaming was utilized for real-time data processing.
The system was designed to operate on multiple servers to accommodate the high volume and velocity of data from Twitter’s API. It was a challenge to create a system capable of handling millions of tweets rapidly, but our team implemented distributed data processing across multiple nodes, thereby optimally managing the data’s volume and velocity.

The solution’s standout feature was its scalability. Initially designed to handle Twitter’s API, the system was built to be flexible enough to expand to other APIs, providing a future-proof solution for the ever-evolving research needs of the university.


The deployment of RichBrains’ custom-built, scalable distributed data crawler fundamentally transformed the way Boston University conducted social media-based research. The university could now process millions of Twitter posts in near real-time, opening up an entirely new dimension for their research.
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The crawler not only enhanced the timeliness and accuracy of the university’s research but also allowed for a more nuanced understanding of vast data sets. The ability to filter and process such a high volume of data in near real-time led to more comprehensive and insightful research outcomes.
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Furthermore, the data crawler streamlined the university’s data integration and migration processes. Pre-processing raw data, handling data anomalies, and ensuring data quality became more efficient and precise. The solution’s scalability also meant that it could accommodate future research needs, significantly enhancing the university’s potential for innovation in research.
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The introduction of the data crawler revolutionized Boston University’s research process. It resulted in more in-depth studies, better resource management, and a significant competitive edge in social media-based research. The breakthrough placed the university at the forefront of digital research, further solidifying its status as a global leader among research institutions.

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