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Coordination of Research e-Infrastructures Activities Toward an International Virtual Environment for Biodiversity

Final Report Summary - CREATIVE-B (Coordination of Research e-Infrastructures Activities Toward an International Virtual Environment for Biodiversity)

Executive Summary:
Environmental research infrastructures and more specifically biodiversity research infrastructures have to cooperate around the globe since biodiversity systems and ecosystems are interconnected. As such, the large-scale and global biodiversity research infrastructures have to interoperate in order to serve their users. The LifeWatch infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research promoted cooperation with other large biodiversity infrastructures in the Creative-B project. The project allowed for interacting with the related research infrastructures: the Atlas of Living Australia, DATA-One (USA), NEON (USA), CRIA (Brazil), SANBI (South Africa), Infrastructures in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, GBIF, the World Federation of Culture Collections (WFCC) and GEOSS-GEOBON.
The project had the objective to promote the coordination between research infrastructures on biodiversity and ecosystems worldwide through:
a. Cooperation of the Global Scientific Communities dealing with the construction, operation and use of large infrastructures and facilities for Biodiversity and Ecosystems research.
b. Exchange of expertise on technological construction and operation technologies, with a focus on interoperability by mapping common reference models.
c. Development of a common view and the implications for coordination actions with respect to the governance and management aspects of large-scale distributed biodiversity research infrastructures and facilities.

Project Context and Objectives:
Context:

Research infrastructures supporting environmental sciences are increasingly crucial for advanced basic research and for contributing to the solution of global environmental problems. This holds specifically for our living natural environment: biodiversity and ecosystems. Understanding these systems requires access to global data sets and the integration of a diversity of data categories. Fast running interoperable capabilities to analyse these data and to test very computationally demanding models of processes of change are essential. The emerging LifeWatch infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research has to cooperate with international partners to enhance global data facilities, to address bottlenecks for achieving interoperability, and to identify and implement common solutions. The following initiatives support this approach and expressed their interest to cooperate in the CReATIVE-B project toward an international virtual environment for biodiversity.
• DataOne (USA)
• CRIA - Reference Centre on Environmental Information (Brazil)
• Chinese Academy of Sciences (China)
• ALA - Atlas of Living Australia (ALA)
• SANBI – South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (South Africa)
• GBIF – Global Biodiversity Information Facility (Denmark)
• GEOSS/GEO BON – GEO Biodiversity Observation Network

Objectives:

CReATIVE-B aims at supporting the coordination between Research Infrastructures on Biodiversity and Ecosystems Research worldwide through:
a. Cooperation of the Global Scientific Communities dealing with the construction, operation and use of large infrastructures and facilities for Biodiversity and Ecosystems research.
b. Exchange of expertise on technological construction and operation technologies, with a focus on interoperability by mapping common reference models.
c. Development of a common view and the implications for coordination actions with respect to the governance and management aspects of large-scale distributed biodiversity research infrastructures (biodiversity RIs) and facilities.
d. Organisation of six workshops with the cooperating initiatives, and contribution to a new international Biodiversity Informatics Conference.
CReATIVE-B is not aiming at replacing existing infrastructures nor creating a new infrastructure, but wants to empower communities. The cooperation will serve the goals of GEOSS/GEOBON.

Project Results:
Sustain the role of biodiversity & ecosystem research infrastructures

The grand challenge for biodiversity and ecosystem scientists is unravelling complex patterns and processes by analyzing very large and diverse data sets. Tackling the grand challenge requires considering our planet as the laboratory of environmental scientists. Interlinked and interoperable research infrastructures are providing the required powerful support services to advance knowledge on larger scales, which is especially crucial for research on biodiversity and ecosystem complexity. The production and free accessibility of long-term and broad-spatial data and analysis tools requires sufficiently sustained biodiversity and ecosystem research infrastructures. Since the research infrastructures are increasingly mutually dependent, a common view on funding principles, preferably adopted by both funding agencies and research infrastructures is recommended.
The cooperating research infrastructures will establish a High Level Stakeholders Group (HLSG), bringing together their leaders for consultation, advice and collaboration.

User interaction and value delivery
Sustaining research infrastructures requires demonstrated demand and use of their services, implying the active involvement of their scientific communities. A common gateway of cooperating research infrastructures will support the interests of scientific communities with access to the array of available cutting-edge technologies. In this respect it is also recommended to empower citizen scientists so they can better benefit from the research infrastructures.
Support for the development and testing of biodiversity indicators is a considered joint action plan to deliver new services and to demonstrate user involvement and the benefits of interoperability. The concept of Essential Biodiversity Variables (EBVs) as propagated by GEOSS-GEOBON may serve as demonstrator.

Cooperation for infrastructure interoperability

The cooperating research infrastructures exhibit a satisfactory level of potential interoperability; in particular, in the way they offer access to biodiversity data, available applications and related resources. There are however barriers to global interoperability, implying recommended actions on the following priorities.

• Emphasize and increase the importance of standards: learn lessons from other domains and proceed case-by-case.
• Solve technical challenges for biodiversity and ecosystem infrastructures: enable global and federated Authentication, Authorization and Accounting (AAA) facilities so that infrastructure users can enact services and access data within another infrastructure seamlessly.
• Encourage the use of consistent quality control, semantics: promote the semantic integration of data.
• Promote the development, sharing and use of workflows of services: expose analytical tools, data and other resources of the cooperating research infrastructures as standard Web services with their interoperation.
• Create a scientific market place for biodiversity services: allow users to benefit from workflows of services to be composed and executed cross-enterprise and cross-infrastructure with globally accessible catalogues of data, services and associated semantics.
• Managing the provenance of resources: assign unique and global identifiers for all resources of the involved research infrastructures.

Legal interoperability

Sharing data and tools with varying provenance of authorship and ownership requires careful and efficient arrangements among cooperating research infrastructures. Legal interoperability is significant with the increasing automatic processing of data supported by “machine-machine” interactions. Below are some the recommendations addresses by the cooperating research infrastructures.
• Follow and contribute the Research Data Alliance (and its RDA-CODATA legal interoperability Working Group).
• Consider a common policy on the adoption of new technical standards, protocols and knowledge sharing.
• Continue to operate under open source principles to provide access to each other without licensing.
• Follow the global developments for attribution mechanisms and policies.
• Share clauses that will ensure open source policies when the research infrastructures rely on middle/software deployed under corporate licensing.

Education and training

Research infrastructures have a mission to seek for and support excellence in science. Training and capacity building directed to new researchers will enable better use of the research infrastructures. In addition, communication efforts will show how biodiversity data and models can become relevant for environmental policies.

Potential Impact:
The direct impact of the project is the potential of enhanced services to the users of cooperating research infrastructures. The infrastructures want to provide access to each of the services of these infrastructures through any of the facilities. This will facilitate very strong infrastructure support to scientists dealing with complex scientific questions. It also is a cost-effective approach for the joint contribution to the GEOSS 10-year implementation plan, in particular (i) enabling global, multi-system information capabilities for biodiversity conservation, and (ii) improving the coverage, quality and availability of essential information from the in situ networks and improving the integration of in situ and satellite data. As a first step, the cooperating research infrastructures will explore how they together can support scientific efforts to develop, compute and test Essential Biodiversity Variables as proposed by GEOBON.
List of Websites:
www.creative-b.eu