Last 12-13 October, I attended the e-IRG workshop held in Poznan (Poland). This event is organised twice a year and is hosted by the member state holding the EU Presidency which rotates every six months. For those not familiar with the e-IRG (e-Infrastructure Reflection Group), this is a body comprising national delegates from more than 30 European countries and representatives from the European Commission.
This is definitely an exciting period for e-Science. The whole workshop showed how Europe is becoming stronger in building focused common policies across member states and scientific disciplines and linking them to the strategic policies for the whole European Union (e.g., Europe 2020). The proper integration of national, regional (e.g., Structural Funds) and EU funding programmes will play an essential role in pushing forward the creation of the European Research Area.
It was nice to see that the common framework for building research infrastructures is providing its first results with the 10 ESFRI projects starting their implementation phase. These research infrastructures will be the key to the building of the European research and innovation strategies. However, many of these projects will generate a deluge of scientific data that needs to be analysed.
Strong focus is now put on the data challenges facing researchers and a number of projects with a specific focus in this area are starting. They act at different levels, either by harmonizing technologies and policies within a scientific domain focusing on clusters of ESFRI projects or by working on a generic infrastructure for all data.
- What is the best strategy to integrate Grid, HPC and data infrastructures?
- What is the best way to work on a common data object architecture?
- How can we leverage the experience with Grid in order to understand what is the boundary between a common generic infrastructure layer managed by the infrastructure providers and domain specific ones managed by the user communities?
These and other questions need to be further discussed and answered in the coming months. The workshop spanned two days and covered several topics from sustainability of e-infrastructure, integration of EU, regional and national funding, grand challenges and data infrastructures. Have a look at the presentations available online to get a fresh outlook on the many activities going on.