Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fast-tracking geoscience cyberinfrastructure

For the past decade the geoscience community has struggled with building an operational cyberinfrastructure. The challenges are much less technical than organizational, cultural, and social. However, in the past few years we've seen a tremendous convergence across all the disciplines towards a common vision of how to create the data equivalent of the world wide web.

Tomorrow, the National Science Foundation is holding a national webinar with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on "Big Data." We expect NSF will talk about the EarthCube initiative among other topics.

NSF is taking a revolutionary path to get an effective cyberinfrastructure under development in the next 18 months or so, through EarthCube. NSF has pushed teams of scientists to organize around a dozen themes in work groups to come up with community-driven and realizable roadmaps by June. AZGS heard today that we are funded to lead the EarthCube Governance Work Group, involving about 60 organizations and institutions worldwide. We are examining existing organizational structures and other options that could constitute a sustainable infrastructure, with guidance from a 10-member steering committee of cyberinfrastructure leaders from many fields.

All the groups will convene in Washington DC in mid-June to critique and shape each others ideas. NSF intends to use this input to shape funding solicitations coming out in July to put the plans into effect.

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