Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, No. 6, March 29, 2013

Research Data Alliance Meeting Features Leading “Big Data” Experts

Many of the world’s leading experts on “big data” and related fields gathered in Sweden March 18 for the first plenary session of the international Research Data Alliance (RDA)—an interdisciplinary organization whose goal is to accelerate data-driven innovation through research data sharing and exchange.
Spearheaded by RDA sponsors from the European Commission, the U.S. government, the Australian government, and key leaders from the data community, the RDA’s three-day launch attracted scientific leaders and experts who are working to accelerate discussion about removing barriers to sharing research data and stimulating more interaction and development within the data community. U.S. participation in the new effort will be fueled by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

“Although the importance of sharing and exchange of data, including public access, has been emphasized by multiple reports and many science agencies around the world, actual sharing of data across national, international, and disciplinary boundaries has been challenging to implement,” said Alan Blatecky, director of NSF’s Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure. “The establishment of RDA promises to break through inertia by ‘just doing it’—that is, RDA supports mechanisms that enable data researchers and scientists to quickly adopt best practices and share and exchange data.”

U.S. involvement is led by Computer Science Professor Francine Berman and Professor Beth Plale, of the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University.

“The Research Data Alliance addresses a worldwide need for efforts that accelerate data-driven innovation,” Berman said. “The National Science Foundation, with U.S. and international partners, is expanding the global conversation on data-driven research. Community development of the RDA will contribute to the global infrastructure needed for new discovery and insights.

“This first meeting of key players in the data community will officially launch the RDA. There has been tremendous interest in the organization and we look forward to partnering with the community worldwide to coordinate and expand the global infrastructure that drives today’s research and innovation.”

According to Berman, RDA efforts will focus on the development and adoption of common tools, harmonized standards, and infrastructure needed for data sharing by practicing researchers, as well as the application of policy and best practice to facilitate data-driven research. The idea is to increase and promote focused efforts that drive tangible progress for working scientists and researchers. Deliverables of many sorts will be developed and adopted through the efforts of RDA working groups.

Attendees also heard panel discussions and addresses on current status of the RDA, research data challenges and opportunities around the world, and data sharing in the humanities and life sciences.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 7, Number 6, March 29, 2013
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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