Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Data sharing at the BELIEF e-concertation meeting

We're at the BELIEF 7th e-infrastructure concertation meeting in Brussels which is now on its second day. This event brings together the e-Infrastructure community in order to take stock of the current developments and to discuss future orientations.

With around forty speakers over three days, the event's certainly been lively so far and there's been lots of engaging discussion in the sessions, around lunch and coffee and also on the conference forum.

One point the meeting aims to address is the challenge of developing data infrastructures for e-Science, and this has been a reoccurring theme throughout the conference. At yesterday's session on Data services for user communities this was at the forefront of the discussion with delegates highlighting the importance of putting the users needs first.

The session encouraged delegates to discuss the following four questions, and with 50 participants and 7 talks there was a lot of healthy dialogue.

- What do scientists expect from e-Infrastructures?
- How to assist the transition from science to e-science?
- How to engage with user communities?
- Where and how to invest in R&D

Participants thought that the answer to the second and forth questions could be achieved by unlocking the power of data. However this is easier said than done and needs to be carried out in a demand driven way that is easily accessible to users who will have to use these tools and platforms every day in their work.

There were calls for users to have 'access ramps' rather than 'access steps' which discourage them from using tools and services which provide them with extra work, rather than facilitating research they're already carrying out. This reflected a talk given earlier on in the day by Andrew Richards of the UK's National Grid Service, who suggested an Oyster card system of accessing grid-like services rather than the complicated certificate system which often proves to be a barrier to use. (For non-Londoners an Oyster card is a ticket which gives you access to all buses, trains and tube services across the city in a very easy to use way).

And regarding engaging communities - as well as the importance of dissemination projects like BELIEF and of course GridTalk :) - delegates suggested that going out to meet researchers in their own environments at science conferences and the like, could do much to encourage a wider uptake of e-science services.

No comments: