UK leads on new £8.5m European scheme to improve access to research data
10 February 2017
Computing experts, led by a team from the UK, have been set the ambitious task of establishing a new Europe-wide data and computer-sharing network to allow scientists across the continent to exchange and analyse data in scientific research.
The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) scheme is now in its first phase of development, with the initial, two-year pilot project being funded by a €10million (£8.5m) investment from the European Commission (EC) with involvement from more than 50 organisations.
The aim of the EOSC is for researchers from across all scientific disciplines to be able to access and analyse data produced in research across Europe. As well as providing the basis for better scientific research, and making more efficient use of vital resources, this new ‘open data’ system could also help in public health or environmental emergencies where easy access to reliable research data may help improve response times.
The first phase of the project is being led by members of STFC’s scientific computing department, and STFC’s Dr Juan Bicarregui said: “Publically funded scientific research data should be openly available so that it can be used in as many ways as possible. This project will begin the development of a shared computing infrastructure that will make that possible.”
Fifteen demonstrators from various research areas including life sciences, energy, climate science, material science and the humanities, will be asked to present innovative prototypes for the network.
The pilot aims to show how different data infrastructures can exchange information and what benefits this could have for various scientific fields. It will also consider how incentives and rewards can be established for the sharing of data and resources, to encourage an effective open-data environment.
There will be some technical challenges during this ambitious project, as EOSC will need to improve the compatibility of different infrastructures. It will also be important to evolve the research culture so as to make data readily available and encourage the sharing of computing infrastructure, whilst respecting data protection issues and ethical constraints.
The project will complement the work of the Research Data Alliance that champions the open sharing of data, and build on the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) roadmap that identifies the new infrastructures required to meet the long term needs of the European research communities.
Carlos Moedas, EC Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: “Our goal is to create a European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) to make science more efficient and productive and let millions of researchers share and analyse research data in a trusted environment across technologies, disciplines and borders.”
Dr Bicarregui concludes by saying: “It’s a privilege to be leading this important project. With our many European partners we have a unique opportunity to work together to ensure access to a wide range of science is available to as many researchers as possible.”