EUDAT is working towards multiple goals through the development of its Collaborative Data Infrastructure which will allow researchers to share data within and between communities and enable them to carry out their research effectively, while at the same time providing a solution that will be affordable, trustworthy, robust, persistent and easy to use. And while EUDAT has been running for just over 2 years, the 2nd EUDAT Conference held in Rome – 28-30 October 2013 - responded in many ways to European Commission Vice President Kroes’ statements made during her speech at the Open Access conference “Embracing change is good for all of us: avoiding duplication while facilitating replication, accelerating discovery, and driving innovation. Of course, you only get so far with "one size fits all". Different domains have different cultures and characteristics. But all face similar challenges, and all stand to gain from this change. And today as much as ever, it's clear that openness can transform every academic discipline, both sciences and humanities. … There are many areas to consider. From new tools and infrastructures. Resolving new technical issues, like … how to preserve data for the long term. Most of all, it needs a new culture: of sharing and working together, between researchers, libraries, universities, publishers and, yes, all of us as citizens.”
The three day event both showcased & trained over 220 participants on EUDAT’s first set of services currently being deployed, highlighted the challenges faced by different domains and cultures and opened the discussion on meeting these challenges through the development of a new set of services and policies emerging directly from collaboration & cooperation between all stakeholders – technical experts, research communities, policy-makers, data scientists, etc.
The three plenary sessions addressed new data challenges - the case for cross-disciplinary science and services, Life and Earth Sciences at a cross-roads community driven flagship initiatives in the EU and USA and Towards Global Data Infrastructure Components. While major collaborative data infrastructures are certainly not built in a day, the plenary speakers presented significant advances in a number of related areas and delegates had lively discussions about future directions for the community.
The Interoperabilities track, with three definitive focuses – Federated AAI, Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) & Identifiers came to some interesting conclusions. A ‘Federated AAI’ solution that is accepted by many partners can be created from existing technologies, but needs a focussed approach in order to not lose momentum. It is still one of the most crucial strategic challenges in EUDAT shared with all other partners in EU and elsewhere (i.e. US, China, etc.). Much work is required here in coming years to harmonize with other activities while promising pilots are underway. The work around PPPs can be considered as ‘moderate’ in the coming years as several good examples of PPPs are either established or underway, but should be tailored for EUDAT-specific solutions. It is well recognised that EUDAT has unique capabilities to offer in PPPs, not just because of the long-term operated centers with capability and capacity resources, but also due to important know-how and experience in working within and across national boundaries. Identifiers are very broadly used in production services and that there is less work to be done for strategic impact in comparison with PPP or federated AAI.
The EUDAT Services track addressed the current four EUDAT core services - B2SAFE (safe replication), B2SHARE (simple store), B2STAGE (data staging) and B2FIND (metadata catalogue), revealing the new service branding together with the deployment & future development plans.
Listening to the requirements of research communities and scientists is the foundation upon which EUDAT is built, and agile interaction has always been part of its core activity. EUDAT has adapted different ways to listen to communities and users, and to involve domain experts in defining its new building blocks and services. To intensify this interaction in specific areas of interest, EUDAT has adopted the concept of Working Groups from the DataONE project as a method to bring domain experts, EUDAT community representatives and EUDAT technologists together to discuss identified interest fields of interest, where the exact setup of a concrete service is not yet fully clear. Currently four service areas are being taken forward – Semantics , Dynamic Data , Workflows and Data Access and Re-use Policies . These four areas were the focus of dedicated working group meetings in September 2013. Semantics, Dynamic Data & Workflows were the focus of track four – New Services - at the Conference, while Data Access and Re-use Policies were covered in the Policy and Sustainability issues track.
Data deposit, access and reuse policies must be made clear to potential users of data infrastructures, both the “data providers” – who need to know how their data will be made accessible and who will be able to access it – and the “data customers” – who need to know about access or reuse restrictions before starting work with any of this data. The Policy and Sustainability Issues session explored some of the issues surrounding deposit, access and reuse and their potential impact on the sustainability of data infrastructures. As a roundup of the challenges of long-term data storage and preservation the track generated a number of valuable insights for EUDAT as it looks to the future of the European collaborative data infrastructure.
The EUDAT training day (28th October) consisted of two parallel tracks each containing two sessions Track 1.1 - Data Staging, Replication and Storage: Integrating with EUDAT’s building blocks, Track 1.2 - Implementation of Staging, Replication and Storage: Services and Tools. Track 2.1 - Persistent Identifiers, Handles, Type Registries, EPIC & Track 2.2 – Metadata. Interested parties were invited to attend sessions according to their area of interest: moving data (Track 1), metadata (1.1 and 2.2) or technical details of PIDs and how they are integrated with EUDAT’s other services (2.1 and 1.2) or organisation of data and interest in registration and metadata (Track 2).
As EUDAT’s service offering matures, there will be a more clear-cut separation of the audiences that would benefit from EUDAT training. There will be those people who want to know how to use the services as they currently stand and who would see training as something that would either complement the user documentation, or which would provide a means for them to get quickly up to speed with using the services. The other group of people will be smaller, and will be those who are looking for ways to interface their services and tools with EUDAT. For these people, EUDAT will be able to share its ever-increasing experience with the underlying tools and technologies so that EUDAT’s building blocks can be incorporated into the standard way of working in many different research communities.
In the spirit of EUDAT’s openness and willingness to establish close collaboration with new research communities and other data infrastructures and initiatives, a series of associated workshops were organised before and after the conference by CumuloNimbo, Digital Cultural Heritage, iMarine, LifeWatch, SIM4RDM, Social Sciences & Humanities representatives. These workshops have led to different levels of future collaboration for EUDAT.
Kimmo Koski, Managing Director CSC-IT Center for Science & EUDAT project coordinator, summarised the EUDAT vision well "Science is global and so should be the e-infrastructures and the related services. What we do at a European level we need to link tightly to national and global activities. Services need to be user-driven, we need to build trust between researchers and e-infrastructure providers"