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New project to tackle data deluge: EUDAT – Towards a pan-European Collaborative Data Infrastructure

11.10.2011

On 1 October 2011, the EUDAT project was launched to target a pan-European solution to the challenge of data proliferation in Europe's scientific and research communities. Aiming to contribute to the production of a Collaborative Data Infrastructure driven by researchers’ needs, the project is coordinated by CSC - IT Center for Science, Finland, and co-funded by the European Commission’s Framework Programme 7.

EUDAT aims to provide Europe’s scientific and research communities with a sustainable pan-European infrastructure for improved access to scientific data. Burgeoning volumes of valuable and complex data – newly available from powerful new scientific instruments, simulations and digitization of library resources – represents a fantastic opportunity for science, but has created new challenges related to data management, access and preservation. EUDAT aims to address these challenges and exploit the opportunities using its vision of a Collaborative Data Infrastructure.

The EUDAT consortium comprises 25 European partners, including data centers, technology providers, research communities and funding agencies from 13 countries, who will work together to deliver a Collaborative Data Infrastructure that can sustainably meet future researchers’ needs.

“EUDAT will fill an important gap in the current European e-Infrastructure landscape,” said Dr. Kimmo Koski, CSC Managing Director and EUDAT Project Coordinator. “We aim to develop a generic infrastructure for scientific data management that can used by a diversity of research communities and existing infrastructures.”

“This can only be achieved through a systematic and focused approach covering the entire life cycle of data objects, and by encouraging collaboration between the various stakeholders and in particular between the communities involved in designing specific services and the data centers willing to provide generic solutions,” said Dr Koski. “Our ultimate aim is to develop a high-quality, cost-efficient and sustainable pan-European data ecosystem, driven by European research needs and user communities.”

Multi-disciplinary collaboration and data sharing

The EUDAT partners include key representatives from research communities in linguistics (CLARIN), earth sciences (EPOS), climate sciences (ENES), environmental sciences (LIFEWATCH), and biological and medical sciences (VPH), all of which have been allocated project resources to help specify their requirements and co-design related services. Other communities have joined EUDAT as associate members, representing 15 research disciplines across all major fields of science.

EUDAT Scientific Coordinator Peter Wittenburg, from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics at Nijmegen, the Netherlands, said EUDAT will open considerable new opportunities for research communities. “Beyond offering common services such as data hosting and preservation, EUDAT is paving the way towards integrated and interoperable access to data and, in doing so, will facilitate new science and allow efficient knowledge creation,” said Wittenburg. “It is this double opportunity that makes the EUDAT initiative so interesting for research communities and infrastructures.”

Wittenburg stressed, however, that the challenges of integration, interoperability, data life cycle management and trust building would involve a continuous and global discussion process. “EUDAT is calling for the contributions of all stakeholders interested in adapting their solutions or contributing to the design of the CDI. The EUDAT user forums and the Data Access and Interoperability Task Force (DAITF) already provide some opportunities to join in the discussion.”

EUDAT and Finland

Pirjo-Leena Forsström, Director of Data Services at CSC, said that CSC was uniquely positioned to coordinate the project. “CSC has very strong expertise in data management and our participation in EUDAT will strengthen our national expertise and position, putting us at the forefront of the discussion over scientific data interoperability in Europe.”

Forsström said that in addition to national data solutions for data storage, access and preservation, we need a new interoperability layer. “To further align cross-border and cross-disciplinary research infrastructures, we need a European-level data interoperability layer. Interoperability issues are not only technological, but also political and legal, including the lack of a cross-border and cross-sector legal basis for interoperability, insufficient awareness and political will, or lack of agreement on the governance structures required. EUDAT will help to overcome these challenges.”

“EUDAT will foster interoperability, helping to establish common approaches that will make collaboration a lot easier,” Forsström said. “Finnish researchers will benefit directly from this project, that aims at sharing and reusing tools, using common platforms and common data infrastructure components. We hope to collaborate with all Finnish stakeholders on this.”

More information is available from www.eudat.eu

Contacts:

Kimmo Koski, EUDAT, Project Coordinator
Kimmo.Koski at csc.fi

Pirjo-Leena Forsström, EUDAT Strategic Direction
Pirjo-Leena.Forsstrom at csc.fi

Damien Lecarpentier, EUDAT Project Manager
Damien.Lecarpentier at csc.fi