[GSDI Legal Socioecon] Europe needs overall data strategy, says new paper
ral at alum.mit.edu
Tue Oct 13 16:13:07 EDT 2009
FYI - on unlocking information resources.
European scientists make use of increasingly large amounts of data
derived from a wide variety of sources. This data, often coming from
repositories across Europe, is used not just in checking experimental
hypotheses, but also for supporting new hypotheses, novel research and
A coherent data strategy, though, is needed to ensure that Europe's
research community does not fall behind internationally. Operating
without one could significantly impact the competitiveness and
cost-effectiveness of European research, according to a new White Paper
'Strategy for a European Data Infrastructure' by the Partnership for
Advanced Data in Europe (PARADE), whose members represent 23 European
computing and research entities.
In the paper, PARADE notes that currently huge amounts of scientific
data are stored in isolated local repositories or even on computer
desktops. This poses a significant problem, hindering access to the data
by other scientists and research institutions.
'Data can be equated with money that has value only if it is used and
circulated,' state the paper's authors. 'As the different currencies can
be stored in the globally interrelated bank infrastructures, we need
persistent, highly available and compatible data infrastructures where
data from various disciplines can be stored and fetched from.'
A number of new research infrastructures are being prepared in Europe,
due to the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)
roadmap first published in autumn 2006 and updated in December 2008. The
report states that currently, there are an estimated 150 to 200 research
infrastructures of variable size operating in Europe.
The White Paper, though, explains these data repositories are often
either geographically restricted or limited to specific disciplines. In
their place, it suggests a sustainable, seamlessly integrated, physical
data infrastructure on a pan-European scale. This infrastructure would
administer best practices and have common tools to serve multiple user
communities. Ultimately, compatible data services and facilities can
make a significant contribution to realising Europe's research potential.
'The challenges associated with data services on a large scale are a
global issue,' write the authors of the paper. 'Noticeably [in] the USA
and Japan, where the importance of data services infrastructure has been
understood, multiple government initiatives have been launched. The
global collaboration in research infrastructures, for example in
particle physics or radio astronomy, shares data between researchers of
The paper also proposes a governance structure where user communities,
data service providers and funding bodies work closely together.
According to the paper, linking stakeholders would enhance collaboration
and result in increased synergy in the services offered to different
user communities. It will also lead to improved trust among all
stakeholders, an issue which PARADE considers to be important..
By meeting the demand for sustainable, multidisciplinary data services,
says the White Paper, Europe will have an infrastructure flexible enough
to deal with stakeholder requirements and needs of the future.
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