Why is it important?
Europe actively supports an innovative way of conducting scientific research by the creation of a new environment for academic and industrial research in which 'virtual communities' share, federate and exploit the collective power of European scientific facilities. 'e-Infrastructure' refers to this new research environment in which all researchers - whether working in the context of their home institutions or as part of national or multinational scientific initiatives - have shared access to unique or distributed scientific facilities (including data, instruments, computing and communications), regardless of their type and location in the world.
Where do we stand?
Europe has built a world-class operational communication and computing infrastructure to facilitate scientific research. This e-Infrastructure provides scientists throughout Europe with very high-speed communication networks and powerful computing middleware tools that foster collaboration and promote the shared use of expensive computing and data resources.
Leading edge Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) play a strategic role in changing the way scientists and engineers will work in the future. Networked research communities share computing platforms and advanced applications running next generation protocols.
Such innovative work practices are revolutionising research in fields as diverse as astronomy, business, aeronautics and environment.
Scientific communities in disciplines from molecular biology to astrophysics and educational sciences are already actively using the services currently provided by e-Infrastructure.
Where do we want to go?
Further development, deployment and evolution of existing e-Infrastructure, such as the world leading pan-European research network GÉANT and core e-Science Grid infrastructures, will be carried on throughout FP7.
e-Infrastructure will address the specific needs of new scientific and engineering communities. Europe will continue collaborating with similar initiatives in other continents and seek to develop common intercontinental policies.
FP7 will also set new and ambitious targets for e-Infrastructure. Due to the importance of data in the scientific process, European scientific digital repositories will be made interoperable leading to the creation of a European scientific data infrastructure.
Furthermore, FP7 addresses the deployment of new scientific infrastructures, in line with the recommendations of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). In this context, the deployment of new supercomputing facilities, reaching peta-flop computing performance, will be supported.
What impact do we want to have?
Europe is ready to build on the ICT capabilities of existing infrastructures in order to create a new research environment, in which all scientists have an easy-to-use controlled access to unique or distributed scientific facilities, regardless of their type and location in the world. We want to encourage the emergence of new working and organisational methods, based on the shared use of resources across different disciplines and technology domains.
We also need to contribute towards a more intense collaboration between research centres and their researchers in "virtual research communities", enabling worldwide sustainable partnerships in all e-Science fields and making the scientific process more efficient.
How do we get there?
e-Infrastructure will continue to be a 'forerunner' of cross discipline innovation and a driver in changing the way science is conducted. This will be strengthened by further investment in e.g. European high-end computing capabilities and the deployment of repositories of scientific information.
Several infrastructural layers - computing, communication and services - are required to create pan-European virtual centres of excellence and research laboratories. On top of communication and computing capabilities, ICT research will provide technologies for collaboration, knowledge-sharing and experimentation in various areas of science and engineering.
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