Monday, March 22, 2010

E-infrastructure needs of the ESFRI Environmental Sciences research infrastructures

- Bob Jones, EGEE Project Director

I recently attended a Workshop on common ICT and e-infrastructure needs for the ESFRI Research Infrastructures in the field of Environmental Sciences, organised by the EC in Brussels on 18th March.

Approximately 30 participants attended from environmental ESFRI projects, e-infrastructures and the EC.

The day before, the D4Science-II project organised a half day workshop called “Informal Workshop on D4Science technologies for supporting the field of Environmental Sciences.” During this workshop, the project team explained and demonstrated how their infrastructure, linked to EGEE and using the gCube software based on gLite, can be used to create virtual environments.

Herve Pero, Head of Unit for Research Infrastructures within the European Commission, explained that the objective of the environmental sciences workshop was to prepare for the next round of proposals - designed to support the implementation phase of environmental ESFRI projects - which will be submitted in response to EC funding calls later in 2010. The message was consistent with that of similar workshops organised by the EC for other ESFRI sectors – there are limited funds for the implementation phase (30 million Euros across all sectors) so the EC prefers to support common actions across multiple ESFRI projects, which must include an e-infrastructure dimension in their proposals.

Pero highlighted that outreach is very important – ESFRI projects need to prove that research infrastructures have a significant impact on society and industry. He explained that they cannot work in isolation, citing CERN as example of world leading research infrastructure and e-infrastructure.

ESFRI will produce a strategic report at the end of 2010 along these lines.

Wouter Los (leader of the LifeWatch project which has had regular contact with EGEE dating back to 2007) distributed a set of high level requirements for ESFRI projects in the environmental sciences. This is the only sector so far to have produced a common document ahead of such a workshop. Data management requirements were highlighted in the common document, but also the importance of training and user support.

Overall I saw a great willingness of these projects to work with e-infrastructures. Sylvie Joussaume from CNRS, who has made use of EGEE resources and cited the work of Monique Petitdidier of EGEE, congratulated the efforts of EGEE to date in supporting their community. Sylvie also noted that the direct funding for the virtual user communities in the transition from EGEE to EGI is unclear.

The workshop participants concluded that the interaction between the environmental sciences sector and e-infrastructure must continue. A working group will be established to prepare statements that the EC can use to formulate strategic direction, together with a roadmap for the implementation of specific use cases.

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