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National Initiatives for Open Science in Europe

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NI4OS-Europe (National Initiatives for Open Science in Europe)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

In the area of South East Europe, in last 20 years, a number of coordinated and complementary electronic Infrastructure initiatives were crucial for enabling high-quality research and ICT developments. They have helped to reduce the digital divide and brain drain in Europe, by ensuring access to infrastructures and services to the region. Despite the success of the previous initiatives, the catchment area of the project is still relatively underprivileged compared to Western Europe: its partners are rarely in the leading seat when coming to pan-European developments in European Open Science Cloud (EOSC)-related initiatives, and its infrastructures and services are not widely included in the current EOSC offering. NI4OS-Europe pools the existing electronic infrastructures, as well as thematic services and digital open data and publications repositories, to reduce fragmentation and promote further federation of services within a wider EOSC. Overall objective of NI4OS-Europe is to support the development and inclusion of the national Open Science Cloud initiatives in 15 Member States and Associated Countries in the overall scheme of EOSC governance; spread the EOSC and FAIR principles in the community and train it; and provide technical and policy support in on-boarding of the existing and future service providers into EOSC, including generic services (compute, data storage, data management), thematic (domain-specific) services, repositories and data sets.
An online survey on stakeholder analysis & mapping was launched which provided an insight into the local capacities and needs, including information about Open Science initiatives, infrastructures, services, policies, stakeholders and topics in the 15 partner countries. Visualization of survey data for the stakeholder mapping was made accessible from NI4OS-Europe project website
A blueprint for setting up National Open Science Cloud Initiatives was produced that addresses governance issues and suggestions about possible workflows and indicators facilitating the establishment and operation of the national initiatives.
Specific recommendations were developed; legal, technical and procedural tools were mapped and the curated catalogue of tools was established supporting open data, ORDM and FAIR with suitable categorization, attributive labelling and tagging for distinct types of stakeholders. Three data management tools (LCT, RoLECT and RePol) were developed and released.
Best practices for on-boarding services and related policies were produced, taking into account EOSC related documents and integrating the regional specifics. Policies and policy templates for the services and the service providers, such as access policy, terms of use policy, privacy policy were produced and published at the project wiki.
Recommendations for HPC centers on-boarding were produced, containing the major policy and technical aspects of the onboarding of the regional HPC resources to the EOSC.
Based on the recommendations for the EOSC Core, the project partners worked on the establishment of the NI4OS-Europe pre-production environment. A set of elements was developed, including service catalogue, AAI, monitoring, accounting, help desk, technical wiki, code repository and training and webinar platform, referred to as NI4OS Federating core. The developed tools enable the partners to achieve integration of their services (general and thematic) and repositories necessary for the EOSC onboarding.
7 repositories, 15 thematic, and 12 generic services were on-boarded and registered within the Agora catalogue and integrated with the pre-production environment. The total number of resources available within the catalogue is currently 41 (on-boarded and candidates). Life Sciences, Climate Science, Digital Cultural Heritage and Computational Physics were selected as the communities participating in the demonstrations, based on the technology readiness level of their identified services.
Training plan was defined and training portal has been created together with the first set of training materials. 7 train-the-trainer events and 13 national-level trainings were hosted. Moreover, each country participating in NI4OS-Europe identified an “EOSC promoter” with a mission to act as EOSC ambassador as well as a translation officer to translate training material to mother tongues.
Outreach activities were adapted to COVID-19 situation, online schemes were proposed, a series of useful webinars were presented and material was distributed, in order to help partners to organize successfully their local marketing and dissemination events in new formats. 8 national dissemination events were organized during the reporting period with more than 320 participants; 5 scientific publications were written, 4 newsletters were produced and 60 presentations given. Approximately 5000 different stakeholders were engaged in this context. Promotional package has been produced and distributed and NI4OS-Europe web site, training portal, Wiki and NI4OS-Europe section vs COVID-19 along with social media and additional online tools are maintained and used.
In the context of Liaison with EOSC governance and related EOSC initiatives “Collaboration Agreements” were signed by all INFRAEOSC-05 projects in the form of a multi-party MoU, detailing how synergies will be identified and fully exploited.
NI4OS-Europe supports the setup of National Open Science Cloud initiatives in the 15 partner countries, thus ensuring alignment of technical and policy priorities on the national levels to long-term European vision of EOSC governance. Adoption of specific recommendations developed for ORDM and FAIR compliance ensures equality in data and service access and allows researchers to tap into the wealth of data produced in the project countries, opening the way for cross-disciplinary science collaboration. The on-boarding of unique services of pan-European interest, following best practices and guidelines, enhances competitiveness and innovation capacity of service providers from the region in the open EOSC environment and allows for spreading the know-how to the rest of the countries of the target area and bring them to a level with the rest of Europe. Participating to and shaping outreach activities motivates and encourages further collaboration and knowledge transfer.
From the socio-economic point of view, interconnecting the scientific and research community to overall EOSC landscape, enables it to carry out collaborative and innovative research of high excellence. Similarly, the on-boarded EOSC-relevant services from the area will indirectly support the ICT sector in the region by involving a number of actors in the process, providing them with equal opportunities. These initiatives are crucial in easing the "digital divide" that separates the countries from the core of Europe, as well as in providing opportunities to the region’s human capital and reducing the brain drain locally and in Europe. Easing of the digital divide will not only empower the citizens of the region, but also eventually contribute to the stability, peace and further development of the area.
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