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ENVironmental Research Infrastructures building Fair services Accessible for society, Innovation and Research

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ENVRI-FAIR (ENVironmental Research Infrastructures building Fair services Accessible for society, Innovation and Research)

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-12-31

European Environmental Research Infrastructures (ENVRIs) on the ESFRI level are core facilities for providing data, research products and services from the four subdomains of Earth system science – Atmosphere, Marine, Solid Earth, and Biodiversity/Terrestrial Ecosystems. The ENVRI Cluster represents the core component of the European environmental research infrastructure landscape, with the ENVRI community as their common forum for collaboration and co-creation. The topics covered by the ENVRIs span the entire range of scientific objectives relevant for Earth system monitoring.
ENVRI-FAIR is the cluster project of the ESFRI Environment (ENV) Domain, aiming towards the provision of services compliant with FAIR principles. The overarching goal of ENVRI-FAIR is to advance the findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability (FAIRness) of digital assets, in particular research data, products, and services, provided by the ENVRI Cluster, and to connect them to the emerging service ecosystem of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).
ENVRI-FAIR targets the development and implementation of both technical frameworks and policy solutions that make subdomain boundaries permeable for environmental scientists and prepare Earth system science for the new Open Science paradigm. Cross-discipline harmonisation and standardisation activities, together with the implementation of joint data management and access structures at RI level, facilitate the strategic coordination of observation systems required for interdisciplinary science. In addition, common policies, open standards, interoperability solutions, operational services, and stewardship of data based on the FAIR principles will essentially help maturing RIs to solve those common problems. On the ENV Domain level, ENVRI-FAIR creates the open-access platform ENVRI-Hub for collaboration and co-creation of the ENVRI community and for delivering environmental data and services through EOSC.
To achieve the high-level ENVRI-FAIR goals, the conducted work in the second reporting period was mostly dedicated to the implementation of the tasks defined in the various implementation plans, with the ENVRIs working towards not only improving the FAIRness of their own data and services, but also reflecting their efforts at a higher level by becoming FAIR as a cluster. To build on a common foundation, the key technical gaps were prioritised and the ENVRIs identified common requirements and design patterns and work together to make meaningful use of existing technical solutions that enhance their FAIRness. The implementation of FAIR-enabling resources at RI level and the development of solutions for interoperability is progressing and will support the ingestion of the ENV Domain into EOSC with their specific user requirements and experiences.
The common developments in the ENVRI cluster were guided by both a subdomain driven approach to make use of the synergies in the respective communities, and an overarching coordination through the six technically focussed task forces established in the first reporting period. These task forces concentrate on the most important aspects of FAIRness as identified in the analysis of the first FAIR Implementation profile (FIP) survey, and target the requirements for implementation of a federated cross-RI AAI, the definition and introduction of the ENVRI Catalogue of Services, Persistent Identification throughout the whole data lifecycle, the use of ontologies, linked open data, vocabularies, and certification of repositories, licenses, data attribution and GDPR issues, and finally, the ENVRI-Hub architecture design and demonstrations. The task forces are in full operation, have developed into the main drivers of technology-related developments, and serve now as the powerhouse of ENVRI-FAIR.
Through the ENVRI-Hub, the ENVRI community shares their FAIRness experience, technologies, and training as well as research products and services. The architecture and functionalities of the ENVRI-Hub are driven by the applications, use cases and user needs. Its three main pillars are the ENVRI Knowledge Base as the human interface to the ENVRI ecosystem, the ENVRI Catalogue of Services as the machine-actionable interface to the ENVRI ecosystem, and finally subdomain and cross-domain scientific use cases as demonstrators for the capabilities of service provision among ENVRIs and across Science Clusters. The architecture is designed in anticipation of interoperation with EOSC and is intended to act as a key platform for users and developers planning to include ENVRI services in their workflows.
Achieved milestones of the second reporting period include (1) increasing convergence between the subdomains in terms of implemented FAIR enabling resources; (2) implementation plan updates; (3) joint development of the FIP Wizard together with the GO FAIR Foundation to generate FIPs, and its application in three consecutive assessments of ENVRIs to the progress in FAIRness; (4) metadata mapping to DCAT-AP and services registered in ENVRI-Hub; (5) implementation of subdomain scientific demonstrators; (6) progress in repository certification; (7) implementation of the ENVRI-Hub demonstrator.
In the second project period, the RIs of the ENV Domain repeatedly applied the FAIRness assessment methodology of FIPs as a list of FAIR enabling resources. Identified FIPs of individual RIs were assessed in relation to the FIPs across the ENVRI Cluster in the so-called Convergence Matrix. The whole process was facilitated via domain-specific workshops and training events on the FIP approach and FAIR convergence. The FIP wizard will become publicly available as one of the services provided by the ENVRI-Hub and is already now recognised by RDA and other FAIR enabling activities as a significant methodology development.
The further improvement of personnel skills is handled through continuous FAIRness training activities. By the end of the second reporting period, 15 training events like webinars, workshops and schools were organised, with an average of 40 participants. Topics covered include FAIRness of data and services, provenance documentation, virtual research environments, FAIR data and metadata description, and semantic interoperability of RI data. The ENVRI Training activities contribute substantially to EOSC Future and to various RDA Interest and Working Groups.
The analysis of the Policy Landscape in the ENVRI domain has been revised and updated to support other relevant tasks including the training workshops held in ENVRI-FAIR. The policies to be implemented in the ENVRI cluster are aligned with EOSC Rules of Participation. The developed policy framework is set up as RI agnostic to allow later the adaption of this methodology also outside of the ENVRI Science Cluster.
Stimulated by EOSC activities, and by the participation of the coordinators of the five ESFRI cluster projects in the EOSC Future Strategy and Oversight Board, the cooperation among the five ESFRI clusters deepened towards cohesion and alignment of work between the ESFRI clusters. Driven by these activities their role in EOSC is growing continuously in relevance with the ENVRI-Hub being considered one of the major community portals in EOSC.
Despite the continuing strong impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the ENVRI-FAIR workflow, the progress of the project is considered on time and in some respects even beyond expectation.
ENVironmenatl Research Infrastrcutures with ENVRI-FAIR research infrastructures highlighted