Category Archives: Uncategorized

Summary of Linked Open Data for Global Disaster Risk Research activity involving Dr Bapon Fakhruddin and Professor Virginia Murray

Dr Bapon Fakhruddin

The fourth Pacific Meteorological Council and second Pacific Meteorological Ministers Meeting (PMMM) was held in Honiara, Solomon Islands, 14-17 August, 2017.

Dr Bapon Fakhruddin’s presentation on end-to-end impact based multi-hazard early warning systems and disaster loss data collection for risk assessment, beginning with community ownership and engagement, was exceptionally well received.  More

Disaster Risk and Resilience Roundtable, 19 June 2017, Wellington, New Zealand

Professor Virginia Murray

The Global Platform disaster loss data working session reinvigorated a high level roundtable followed a seminar on Global experiences on managing disaster risk – rethinking NZ’s policy approach by Elizabeth Longworth (ex UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction . The roundtable emphasized to strengthen risk governance system of New Zealand. There is a very strong business case to be made for investing in disaster risk reduction. It has been estimated that an annual global investment of USD 6 billion in disaster risk management strategies would generate USD 360 billion worth of benefits in terms of reducing risk. On that basis, New Zealand might expect a return on investment of 60 times for every dollar spent on reducing disaster risk. In terms of creating shared value, investment in disaster risk management has co-benefits of strengthening resilience, competitiveness and sustainability.

The estimates for direct losses are considered to be perhaps 50% under-reported due to the pervasive nature of smaller scale, localised and recurring disasters. It is concerning that, internationally, the mortality and economic losses from extensive disaster risk are trending upwards. For New Zealand and its Pacific Island neighbours, climate change will magnify disaster risk and increase the costs. With the New Zealand economy heavily reliant on the agricultural sector, it is particularly exposed to weather-related events.

In the same way that New Zealand’s approach to social investment requires improved data and analysis, so too does the production of NZ-based risk information and integrated databases. Greater sensitivity as to the causes and consequences of disaster risk could strengthen accountabilities as to disaster impacts.

A modern-day approach to risk governance also requires greater inclusiveness and transparency. New Zealand needs to pursue an ‘NZ-Inc’ approach. The nature of disaster risk necessitates a whole-of-government response. Dr Bapon Fakhruddin attended the roundtable as an expert.

Workshop on developing a disaster loss database for New Zealand, 28 September 2017

MCDEM will be holding an initial all day workshop on 28 September to discuss all elements of the Loss Database Project. 5th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) was held in Mexico between 22-26 May 2017. The Platform was hosted by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Mexican government to support the continual progress assessments of the Sendai Framework (SFDRR) implementation. The New Zealand delegation was led by Special Envoy for Disaster Risk Management (Philip Gibson, MFAT) accompanied by officials from MFAT (1) and MCDEM (3), plus a wider NZ Inc. delegation of 20 which comprised representation from academia, NGOs, local government and private sector providers.

Following the Platform, a number of key pieces of work are in progress, or need to be considered to give effect to the Framework, put priorities into action and report on the Global Indicators. Of note, these are:

  • Finalising the National Disaster Resilience Strategy
  • Developing the concept for a National Platform for DRR
  • Developing a National Disaster Loss Database and routine disaster loss reporting
  • Project to develop better methods of pricing risk and forecasting losses

The first project MCDEM wish to seek your engagement on is the Loss Database. This is something given consideration to in the past, but is now critical due to its significance to future Sendai reporting. Unlike previous reporting on the Hyogo Framework for Action that focussed on qualitative data on inputs and outputs, Sendai reporting is focussed on outcomes, i.e. losses from disasters, and whether seeing a downwards trend.

ISCRAM Asia Pacific 2018 Conference, Wellington, New Zealand

Dr Bapon Fakhruddin and Professor Virginia Murray will be chair a session on disaster data Issues for situational awareness in the ISCRAM Asia Pacific Conference in late 2018 (http://www.confer.co.nz/iscramasiapacific2018/)

ENERGIC-OD: International co-operation to promote FAIR GIS Open Data and the growth of European SMEs

Giuseppe Maio

This post was written by Giuseppe Maio and Jedrzej Czarnota. Giuseppe is a Research Assistant working on innovation at Trilateral Research. You can contact him at giuseppe.maio@trilateralresearch.com . Giuseppe’s twitter handle is @pepmaio

Jedrzej is a Research Analyst at Trilateral Research. He specialises in innovation management and technology development. You can contact Jedrzej at Jedrzej.czarnota@trilateralresearch.com, and his Twitter is @jedczar.

The value of open data business is increasing at a very fast pace. The open data market is projected to be worth over 75 billion in 2020. Yet, accessing this expanding market is not easy. Open data sources are difficult to find, not interoperable and  hardly reusable, as argued by a recent Open Knowledge Foundation’s report.

Jedrzej Czarnota

ENERGIC-OD, a European Commission project, aims precisely to facilitate access to the open data market in the Geographic Information System (GIS) sector.  The project built a pan-European Virtual Hub (pEVH) simplifying the access to and the use of GIS open data in Europe. Readers can view and utilise the pEVH here.  pEVH brokers together an infinite number of geo-spatial open data sources, harmonising them, rendering them accessible through a single API and ready to be reused for various purposes. pEVH-brokered data is available under freemium licence:  data is free to use and users can pay for some extra features of the pEVH. The freemium model guarantees the promotion of knowledge exchange, the extraction of value from such an exchange and from the services provided by the actors involved.

ENERGIC-OD functions as a data facilitator by improving the quality of the open data available in the GIS sector: the pEVH was designed to ensure that data is aligned with FAIR principles.  These principles advocate that open data should be easy to Find, Accessible, Interoperable and freely Reusable.  pEVH-brokered data is FAIR as the single website where data is stored allows GIS OD sources to be much more findable than before; the single API adopted by ENERGIC-OD makes data usable and interoperable; finally, the freemium model guarantees the re-usability of the data.

To demonstrate the viability of the pEVH, ENERGIC-OD consortium developed 10 applications based on VH-brokered data. These applications range from an app promoting communication between citizens and land consolidation authorities, to a coastline monitoring system that allows people to participate in the scientific observation of coastlines.

 

ENERGIC-OD is committed to enhance innovativeness among SMEs and incentivise local economic development across Europe. Such objectives appear achievable for three reasons.

Firstly, the FAIR principles characterising pEVH-brokered data facilitated SMEs’ ability to utilise GIS data sources, as ENERGIC-OD lowers entry barriers, preventing the usage of such data.

Secondly, the main features of GIS render this branch of IT extremely suitable for business (Azaz 2011). These features are: 1) spatial imaging, namely GIS’s ability to convey information with a spatial dimension; 2) database management: GIS’s capability of storing, manipulating and providing data; 3) decision modelling, or GIS’s potential to provide intelligence supporting decision making; 4) designing and planning, namely GIS’s potential as a design tool (Azaz 2011). Digital mapping, marketing, transportation and logistics, design and engineering, etc. are some of the sectors which have successfully utilised GIS for business. GIS’s potential can be further exploited coupling GIS systems with modelling tools, the so called “intelligent GIS” (Birkin et al 1995). The retail sector has already utilised intelligent GIS integrating shops’ data and spatial pattern data over time to design spatial interaction models and forecast maintenance costs as well as revenue streams (Altaweel 2016). An example of ENERGIC-OD intelligent GIS app is Natural hazard assessment for Agriculture application. Using satellite imagery, this app delivers predictions of the yield reduction in specific crops based on statistical models, considering factors such as draught, humidity, frost, etc.

Thirdly, small and medium enterprises are the greatest beneficiaries of the open data movement, as they are guaranteed free access to data they would not normally have access to and they are more likely to take advantage of open data and become drivers of innovation (Verhulst and Caplan 2015). SMEs constitute the backbone of the European economy and ENERGIC-OD thus functions as a facilitator for these businesses, enabling them, through the put in practice of FAIR principles, to tap more easily into the GIS open data market.

An initial market research conducted by Trilateral Research, a technology consultancy member of the ENERGIC- OD consortium, confirms SMEs’ high interest in the pEVH. These enterprises will, in the next years, drive innovation and economic growth across Europe.  ENERGIC-OD thus represents an example of international cooperation to promote FAIR GIS open data and the growth and development of European SMEs.

References

Altaweel, M. (2016). GIS and Small Business Planning ~ GIS Lounge. [online] GIS Lounge. Available at: https://www.gislounge.com/gis-small-business-planning/  [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].

Azaz, L. (2011). The use of Geographic Information System (GIS) in Business. International Conference on Humanities, Geography and Economics, pp.299-303.

Birkin, M., Clarke, G. and Clarke, M. (1995). GIS for Business and Service Planning. [online] Available at: http://www.geos.ed.ac.uk/~gisteac/gis_book_abridged/files/ch51.pdf  [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].

Verhulst, S. and Caplan, R. (2015). Open Data.A Twenty-First-Century Asset for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. [online] Available at: http://www.thegovlab.org/static/files/publications/OpenData-and-SME-Final-Aug2015.pdf  [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].

Report to ICTP, Trieste CODATA-RDA Research Data Science Summer School (10th – 21st July, 2017)

This post was written by Neema Simon SUMARI, a Tanzanian national working at the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), at the time of writing. Currently, She is a Ph.D. researcher specializing in Remote Sensing, Cartography and Geographical Information Engineering at the University of Wuhan in China. ​ She holds an M.Sc. and B.Sc., both in Computer Science, from the Alabama Agriculture and Mechanical University (A&M) in the United States of America. Her participation was kindly supported by ICTP and Nature Publishing, via CODATA.

I first heard about CODATA in July 2016 when I attended an International Workshop in Beijing in 2016. I was very happy and excited to meet new people there, learning new things and seeing new places. It was the first time I had participated in an International workshop/conference, and the first time to experience this in China where I am now doing my Ph.D.  Through that workshop, I made lots of new friends and built a strong network of people in and out of my field of study.

The CODATA-RDA Research Data Science Summer School in Trieste, Italy, in July 2017, was the best for me. The summer school was amazing, we exchanged academic knowledge as well as building on our existing networks. I wanted to learn and meet new people, ideas and experience different cultures and CODATA and Springer-Nature supported me in attaining these goals. It has been amongst the best experiences in my life. I met a lot of fascinating people from all over the world, expert professors whose lectures were very interesting and helpful to my academic career. I created strong friendships that I hope I will be able to maintain over the next few years if not more.

At the closing session ceremony, Dr. Simon Hodson, Executive Director of CODATA, asked the participants: “so, what have you learned? and what will you do next?” What I have learned was the idea of Open Science and its principles was a major theme of the summer school. I have learned different issues on why data cannot be shared, how can be analyzed, which data has long term value as well as benefits of storing, protecting, sharing, and publishing data among research scientists. It’s true that most of the researchers would like their data to be publicly stored and accessible by other researchers, however, this is not easy for researchers who do not have clearly defined ways to do this, or do not know how to make their data accessible to others. Knowledge of data management plans for the hosting research institutes is required to ensure that researchers can define ways to store their datasets in a publicly accessible way after their experiments are done. Once the research data is stored in a publicly accessible manner, it then needs to be preserved in a format which can be reused by other researchers. In this summer school, the courses that were taught were: Programming-in-R, Cloud Computing, UNIX Shell, ggplot2, Data Visualisation, SQL, Machine Learning, Data Science Profession, Artificial Neural Networks, Research Computational Infrastructure, HOC and HTC, Research Data Management. These courses gave us very good skills and knowledge about Data Science which can help us to facilitate the sharing of data – it was a great experience. I now know why Open Access and data sharing is important and I will apply and share this knowledge to my professional and social media networks.

Last but not the least, was the wonderful arrangement of having helpers to assist us with any logistical problems occurring during the practical sessions and the use of pink sticker was an outstanding method.  It was one of the most enjoyable and informative moments of my life.

Thanks to CODATA, RDA, ICTP, and Springer-Nature for your support, as well as to all my fellow participants for making it possible and fun.

Report to ICTP, Trieste CODATA-RDA Research Data Science Summer School (10th – 21st July, 2017)

This post was written by Shaily Gandhi, who is currently pursuing a PhD in Geomatics from CEPT University, India. Shaily recently attended the CODATA-RDA School of Research Data Science, hosted at ICTP, near Trieste, Italy – her participation was kindly supported by ICTP and Nature Publishing, via CODATA.

The CODATA-RDA School of Research Data Science was a great opportunity for me to work with around 45 students from 29 countries (mostly from lower and middle income countries) and from varied educational backgrounds. Such summer schools or short courses can be the best platforms for learning innovative ways of teaching as well and understanding the work done by different people in the same area. The summer school introduced me to various aspects of data science and intensive hands on training: it has stimulated in me the confidence to start working with concepts which I had just read in books. Now I will be able to implement machine learning and artificial neural networks in my PhD study in Geomatics for developing predictive models.

The school uses the Software Carpentry / Data Carpentry approach of having the students provide daily feedback on pink or green stickers (which signify XXXX). This was a factor which made each us feel that our opinions count. I am very thankful to the organizers who have been on their toes and have been working long hours to make the summer school run smoothly. While working closely with leading academics in the field of data science, it was one of the most wonderful experience for me which not only taught me but also it helped in improving my teaching skills. I have observed many small things in their teaching which I would like to implement in the coming semester’s teaching.

Practical teaching and the use of sticky (this picture was taken during the git session summer school 2017 Trieste)

One of the things which caught my eyes on very first day was the way of using the pink and green sticks for indicating if you are good with the practical or if you need help. I will definitely use this in my teaching because teaching practicals becomes very difficult to handle with a large class and if everyone is waving or calling it makes the environment very noisy.

Women in Research Data Science

Apart from technical learning there was a wonderful experience of cultural exchange. One of the most interesting topics which I discussed with Gail Clement from the California Institute of Technology (who introduced us to Author Carpentry) was the loss of academic identity that can be experienced by women who change their name after getting married (and in some countries this change of name is obligatory). She explained that according to the research men’s research works are more cited then women’s: there are many reasons for this and the loss of identify can contribute as computer search mechanisms and bibliographic tools do not necessarily link the works of women prior to and subsequent to a name change. This is one of the important reasons for a recognised and standardsised researcher ID system: for women who have changed their names, having an ORCiD account will help will keep all your academic work associated with on single researcher ID number. Gail also suggested that it would be better if female researchers could retain both the last names which could “help you built your identity and reputation in the professional world”. Many more interesting discussions regarding the ignorance of credit for work were also brought up. In few institutions are the people doing data analysis included as co-authors to the publication: Gail suggested that a standard criteria should be developed and implemented, such that all contributors (including data analysts and data stewards) are credited and the credit for your contribution stays with you.

Working with Irma and Oscar on some super cool projects (from left to right)

I had a great learning experience by working with people from different countries in groups. Throughout the school, we were working in different groups with different people which gave us lot of exposure to understand the varied situation of data science in different countries. We worked on a project which allowed us to make work on the same file using Git and in the second project we coded the neural network model in python.

The Bring Your Own Data session offered good suggestions regarding my problems with data and the confusions which had been addressed by other students in the summer school working in the same area. I learned a lot about statistical analysis from other students, including Felix Anyiam (Data Analyst, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH)) and Ola Karra (Lecturer, Department of Statistics, University of Khartoum).

Friends at help with Statistics Laba, Felix and Ola (from left to right)

This summer school gave us first-hand experience on many languages and command line interfaces: topics included DOS, R, Shell, Github, visualisation of data in most beautiful ways, machine learning, artificial neural networks other machine learning systems and recommender systems.

Working with Github was an excellent experience. I had been using google drives to work on shared presentations but Git looks pretty cool and would like to use it for my future work to share data and work in a shared environment.

It was great working on the research computation infrastructure with all the participants working on different systems and learning how to submit the job and get the job done using external resources. We were taught how to get access to super computers from different geographical locations: this enables researchers to keep going as it allows you to work from any part of the world. Resources to run the processes can be allotted from different locations.
Finally, we also got a good insight into research data management, referencing systems and wonderful tips for publishing and licensing work.

Friends of Data Science

Map of Student participants:

 

I am very thankful to ICTP for accepting my application and supporting my stay in Trieste. I am very grateful to Nature Publication, via CODATA for funding my travel which gave me an opportunity to attend this summer school on big data Science.

Thifhelimbilu Mulabisana: My trip to Moscow, Russia for the School for Young Scientists “Methods of Comprehensive Assessment of Seismic Hazard”

Thifhelimbilu Mulabisana is a Junior Scientist in the Geophysics Division of the Council for Geoscience in South Africa. Her day-to-day work involves the recording, processing and analysis of seismological data. The organization manages a network of over 50 seismic stations around the country and these are continuously streaming data into her office for processing. Thifhelimbilu attended the CODATA International Training Workshop in Big Data for Science in July 2016.  And in July 2017 she was able to follow this by attending the School for Young Scientists “Methods of Comprehensive Assessment of Seismic Hazard”, organised by the CODATA member organisation for Russia, the Geophysical Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This is the second of two blog posts in which you can read about the experiences of one young researcher from South Africa in training activities that took her from Beijing to Moscow and back.

Thifhelimbilu (right) with friends in Moscow (Xia from China, currently doing a PhD at the State University of Moscow (left), Nguyen from Institute of Geophysics, Vietnam (middle)

As a young scientist, most of my time is spent on the internet looking for articles to read so I can better understand seismology. This is how I came across a poster about the School for Young Scientists “Methods of Comprehensive Assessment of Seismic Hazard” http://school2017.gcras.ru/, I was immediately drawn to researching further on what the school is about. I knew that I would like to attend and improve my knowledge of seismology, when I found out that the school will be devoted to the new methods recently developed for seismic hazard assessment and integration on the basis of the systems analysis of results obtained by these methods.

When I applied for the training I was worried about the cold weather in Russia. I recall when I got the email stating that I had been accepted for the training course, I went onto Google and searched how the weather is like in Russia. Being a South African who is currently based in Pretoria where winter means temperatures are low in early morning hours and at night only, unless there is a cold front, you can understand my despair with cold weather!

Thifhelimbilu (rights) with Natalia from Vladivostok University

Of course, the weather was not the only thing I was worried about, language was also in that basket. Therefore, a couple of weeks before the training I tried to learn a few Russian words that could get me by. This evidently became a futile exercise when I landed at the airport and couldn’t read a word on the signs. I had to ask around to figure out my way to the train. I really appreciated the woman I met when we were in the queue for passport control. She had been in Russia before; therefore she knew her way and showed me where I can get the train. From there I was asking anyone I met and Russians were the friendliest to me.

The programme of the school covered exactly the reason why I became a seismologist in the first place. When I first heard about seismology, I was eager to at least figure out how we can predict earthquakes as they are by far the most dangerous natural hazard. Therefore, looking at the programme I knew that I had to go there, I had to meet people who are studying every day of their lives exactly what I had always wanted to do (see the programme and presentations at http://school2017.gcras.ru/e.materials.html).

The school exceeded my expectations; the lectures were just the kind of smart I have been yearning for the whole duration of my career as a seismologist. The work that they are doing is beyond what anyone can imagine. Can you imagine the day we can predict an earthquake? I bet you disaster management in every country will be ecstatic to that discovery.

The topics that mostly caught my eye were the identification of earthquake prone areas, calculating maximum magnitude using statistics and how the accuracy of this gets tainted due to lack of data; and the investigations on how to predict earthquakes, with the highest confidence level possible. The biggest obstacle in conducting breakthrough research in seismology is lack of data, of which the biggest known cause for this is the station coverage in most of the countries and also sharing data. The problem of data sharing is one thing which CODATA is working towards improving.

Overall, this was a brilliant trip and I would like to extend my gratitude towards the organisers of the school; the Russian Science Foundation within the framework of RSF Project “Application of systems analysis for estimation of seismic hazard in the regions of Russia” and the Council for Geoscience for funding the school and my travel to Russia, respectively.

Group photograph from the School for Young Scientists “Methods of Comprehensive Assessment of Seismic Hazard

Thifhelimbilu Mulabisana: My trip to Beijing, China to attend the the CODATA International Training Workshop in Big Data for Science

Thifhelimbilu introduces herself at the Beijing Training Workshop

Thifhelimbilu Mulabisana is a Junior Scientist in the Geophysics Division of the Council for Geoscience in South Africa. Her day-to-day work involves the recording, processing and analysis of seismological data. The organization manages a network of over 50 seismic stations around the country and these are continuously streaming data into her office for processing. Thifhelimbilu attended the CODATA International Training Workshop in Big Data for Science in July 2016.  And in July 2017 she was able to follow this by attending the School for Young Scientists “Methods of Comprehensive Assessment of Seismic Hazard”, organised by the CODATA member organisation for Russia, the Geophysical Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This is the first of two blog posts in which you can read about the experiences of one young researcher from South Africa in training activities that took her from Beijing to Moscow and back.

Two years before I went to the Beijing training workshop, one of my colleagues went to the same workshop and his feedback about the training was nothing but great. I then became eager to attend the training and so applied as soon as they advertised the course.

The training workshop was focused on promoting improved scientific and technical data management and use. This was exactly what I needed at the time as I was studying towards my MSc. My dissertation was focused on the earthquake catalogue of southern Africa and this was the biggest data I had ever worked with. It became more tedious and frustrating with time and I knew I needed to find better ways to deal with that amount of data.

Thifhelimbilu (right) and Nobubele (from CSIR in South Africa) at one of the social dinners

From the day I found out that I was going to China I was excited, I had never been to Asia. The thrill of going to a country where their medium of instruction is not English was both a challenge and nerve racking (though the Training Workshop is taught in English).

When I arrived in Beijing, my expectation about it was exceeded. Except of course for the stares I got for being black and having long dreadlocks! I suppose people in this part of the world do not get to see a lot of dreadlocks, as some of them even went as far as trying to take pictures of me. There were those who tried to be a bit polite and ask but some of them just went ahead and took the pictures. The whole experience had a certain level of violation but mostly taught me about the diversity we have as a human species.

Thifhelimbilu receives the participation certificate from Prof. LI Jianhui, Secretary General of CODATA China and a member of the CODATA Executive Committee

As most of the Chinese people do not speak nor understand English, and as much as I tried to learn the Chinese language using Google translate, the language barrier was a huge obstacle every time I had to get food. This issue was so evident so much that, most of the time I did not know what exactly I was eating! The first few days, this did not sit well with me but as time went by I was only concerned about how food tasted.

Day one of the training was blissful; I met brilliant young scientists from different fields. This encouraged me to do more for science and be better. Not forgetting meeting the lecturers, the giant scientist I have been longing to meet since I read the first pamphlet about the training course.

The real work began and as I had expected topics such as interdisciplinary applications of open research data, data intensive research, data management policies, cloud computing, visualization, analytics and data infrastructure development in the Big Data Age were covered precisely and greatly so. The practical sessions we had had the most impact by ensuring that I understood the topics well enough and I left every lesson confident that I will be able to do the same when I get back to my home country.

I can confidently confess that this course helped me with my MSc studies, which I completed successfully. I am most grateful to the organisers, CODATA, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Council for Geoscience for their sponsorship.

The 2016 Beijing Training Workshop Students at the Great Wall of China

Governance of domain specific data and metadata standards to support FAIR Data

By: Xiaogang (Marshall) Ma

On May 26, 2016, I attended the Workshop on Research Data Management [http://www.iucr.org/resources/data/dddwg/new-orleans-workshop#gabb2] at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Crystallographic Association, New Orleans, LA, USA and gave a talk on Open Science, FAIR DATA and Data Standards.

The workshop was organized by the International Union of Crystallography (IUCr)’s Diffraction Data Deposition Working Group (DDDWG), and was co-chaired by John R. Helliwell and Brian McMahon, who are the DDDWG chair and the IUCr CODATA representative, respectively. The workshop had two plenary sessions: (1) What every experimentalist needs to know about recording essential metadata of primary (raw) diffraction data and (2) Research Data Management policy mandates and requirements on Principal Investigators (PIs). It also covered a technical session on high-data-rate/high-performance-computing issues of research data management for MX. The first plenary session was closely related to the efforts within DDDWG, and the second session covered broad topics on the open science trends, open data mandates, best practices and successful stories. The technical session covered demonstration of state-of-the-art progress from industry.

My 30-minute talk was in the second plenary session. The talk was originally intended to be given by Simon Hodson, CODATA executive director. Due to a travel schedule issue, he could not make it, but he helped provided the main body of the presentation slides. For me this was also a nice experience to re-fresh my knowledge about open science, FAIR Data, data standards and CODATA’s many activities in relation to these issues. Especially I really enjoyed introducing a slide in which Simon put together the historical events of policy push for Open Access, Open Data and Open Science. To explain the slide in detail I also did some background study. For example, the three B activities (Budapest, Berlin and Bethesda) during 2002-3 were well known for promoting Open Access. We can see the significant increase in the number of open access publications since then [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_access]. Then, how about Open Data and the efforts ongoing now, such as FAIR Data? Can we foresee that after 10 or 15 years there will be positive results similar to Open Access? To achieve that more efforts are needed from all the stakeholders, including every one of us. Within CODATA I have been working together with Dr. Lesley Wyborn and other colleagues in a Task Group [http://www.codata.org/task-groups/coordinating-data-standards] that aims at surveying and coordinating data standard efforts amongst scientific unions.

During the past months, our Task Group has been contributing to efforts led by CODATA to broaden inter-unions coordination and collaboration. Besides giving the talk, another role for me at the New Orleans workshop is to set up deeper connections between IUCr and CODATA. IUCr has done excellent work on data standards and open data. It is also one of the first scientific bodies that endorsed the Science International Accord on Open Data in a Big Data World. IUCr also published a position paper [http://www.iucr.org/iucr/open-data] as a response to the accord. Prof. John Helliwell will be the IUCr representative to attend the Inter-Union Workshop on 21st Century Scientific and Technical Data – Developing a roadmap for data integration. The workshop is sponsored by CODATA’s new Commission on Data Standards for Science and will take place in Paris France on 19-21 June 2017. The workshop’s purpose is to share details of our data and information activities, agree on good practice, seek consensus about how unions and disciplinary groups can best work together in establishing a global network of scientific research data that is consistent with the four principles of FAIR Data – i.e., that data produced by research and for research should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. Based on the outputs of the workshop, a substantially larger workshop or conference will take place in late 2017 or early 2018 to discuss the potential and scope of a broad coordinated effort across the scientific community and the establishment of an ICSU and CODATA Commission as part of a decadal initiative to promote the data standards necessary for inter-disciplinary research including that which addresses the priority global challenges.

Hackathon on open research data: encouraging a balanced demand and supply of open research data

This post comes from Professor Joseph Muliaro Wafula, Director of ICT Centre of Excellence and Open Data (iCEOD) of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, chair of CODATA Kenya and a member of the CODATA International Executive Committee. iCEOD is collaborating with IBM Cloud on an open data cloud platform:

“We wanted to maximize the value of our datasets—both to save money and, crucially, to encourage innovation and collaboration in the wider community,” says Professor Wafula.

“If we could take our data outside the confines of academia and allow developers and social entrepreneurs to harness it, we hope that they would start building applications to use this information for the public good.”

hack5On Saturday 12 November, the ICT Centre of Excellence and Open Data (iCEOD) of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology organized a hackathon on Kenyan open research data sets. The hackathon was intended to enable public access and use of research data through creation of mobile and web applications. It targeted research datasets from scientists in agriculture and public health. The hackathon was opened by the Dean School of Computing and Information Technology, Dr. Stephen Kimani who commended students for their readiness to participate in finding solutions to some of the existing challenges.

  1. Prof Mary Abukutsa (http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/departments/horticulture/academic/) provided research data set on nutritional value, germination and yields of indigenous African vegetables.
  2. Prof John Wesonga (http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/departments/horticulture/prof-john-wesonga-m/) provided research data set on best conditions of growing French beans with minimum application of pesticides.
  3. Prof. Simon Karanja (http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/schools/soph/prof-simon-karanja/) provided research data on the effects of Khat on users in Kenya.
  4. Dr. Frida Wanzala (http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/departments/horticulture/academic/) provided research data on papaya growing areas in Kenya.
  5. Dr. Peter Kahenya(http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/departments/foodscience/?page_id=49) provided research data on various conditions that affect cooking time of different types of beans.
  6. Dr. John Kinyuru (http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/departments/foodscience/?page_id=49) provided research data on nutritional formulas of various local Kenyan foods.
  7. Mr. Francis Ombwara (http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/departments/horticulture/non-academic/) provided research data on identification of sweetness of papaya by color. All the developers were invited to explain the objective of their research.

hack2The iCEOD team curated the data sets and organized it in formats that were easily consumable by software developers. The team also created Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) and SQL queries which were uploaded to a database in a local computer environment, allowing developers to delve into development of applications without having to worry about the raw datasets.

hack4The objectives of the Hackathon

  1. To build innovative mobile and web applications that made access and consumption of research data easy for the benefit of the society.
  2. To encourage scientists to open their research data for public consumption and use.
  3. To showcase open data capability in providing innovative solutions to societal challenges
  4. To engage partners support on the open research data initiative.

Hackathon Partners.

  1. Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (http://www.jkuat.ac.ke/)
  2. IBM East Africa (http://www.ibm.com/connect/ibm/ke/en/branch/ibm.html )
  3. CODATA (http://www.codata.org/ )
  4. AFRICA ai JAPAN Project (http://jkuat.ac.ke/projects/africa-ai-japan/?page_id=469)
  5. Kenya Open Data Initiative (https://opendata.go.ke/ )

List of Judges

  1. Dr. Agnes Mindila-JKUAT
  2. Mr. Philip Oyier-JKUAT
  3. Mr. Silas Macharia –IBM Kenya
  4. Mr. Phebian –ICT Authority

The three winning applications

hack1Position 1: Team ACELORDS comprised of Alex Maina, Emmah Kimari and Peter Kamore – Used Nutritional dataset

  • This group developed a web and mobile application that would help know the nutritional value of the different common types of foods in Kenya.
  • A healthy diet ensures boosted immunity against most diseases, thus such a system becomes beneficial.
  • The user has the option of selecting any combination of foods offered and have the application calculate the resultant nutritional values of the selected food combination.
  • As an addition to the system functions, it has the ability to save choices made by a registered or logged in user. With this information, critical data such as weekly trends or monthly trends can be generated, thereby allowing further processing and interpretation of results.
  • A user can be alerted when the system senses potential health risks, such as higher or lower levels beyond thresholds of certain nutrients. With such information, the user can change his/her diet to a trend that would be beneficial to one’s health.
  • This application can be used by mothers to monitor their baby’s health trends and focus towards nurturing healthy children which is one of the major concerns in Africa.

Position 2: Nahayo B. Patrick and Pius Dan Nyongesa – Used Khat dataset

  • This group created an informational application.
    • This dataset was large with the different effects of Khat in Kenya such as the effects of Khat on local citizens, population that is taking khat, financial expenditure on the users of khat, the age of those involved in taking the khat, where khat grows among other issues.
    • This group created a real-time data analysis tool that takes this data and plots charts and graphs making easy to visualize and gain insights on the data.
    • Potential users of such applications are health service providers, counselors, security personnel, among others.

Position 3: Team ELITE (used Indigenous African Vegetables data)

  • This dataset shows the nutritional value of the different Kenyan indigenous vegetables and also the areas where this vegetables are commonly found. This dataset was used to develop an application that can help any user to determine which vegetables best suit their diets depending on the nutritional content they need most.
  • The application shows where you can find different vegetables and also which vegetables they require most depending on their need of nutrition.
  • Potential end users include Manufactures, Processors, Nutritionist, Health Providers, Nursing Mothers

All data sets are being prepared for registration so as to be assigned DOI. There APIs will be published on the JKUAT open Data Platform at https://opendata.jkuat.ac.ke/ when ready.

Acknowledgement

Jomo Kenyattta University of Agriculture and Technology, Prof Muliaro Wafula –Director iCEOD, Dr Simon Hudson-CODATA Executive Director, Prof Manabu Tsunoda- AFRICA ai JAPAN Project Chief Adviser, Silas Macharia-IBM Kenya,  Dr Agnes Mindila –Lecturer Computing Department & iCEOD Collaborator, Noriaki Tanaka — AFRICA ai JAPAN Project Coordinator, Pascal Ouma –Deputy Director ICT,  Francis Musyoki – iCEOD attached & MSc Student Software Engineering at JKUAT, Tom Nyongesa- iCEOD attached & Computer Science Final Year students JKUAT, Gyle Odhiambo- iCEOD attached & Computer Science Final Year students JKUA, and Alice Ebela –iCEOD Administrative Assistant .

List of Participants

1 Mwangi Shadrack 2 Nixon Thuo 3 Dominic Kithinji
4 Wycliff Obuya 5 Sydney Mainga 6 Enock Chesire
7 Alex Maina 8 Winnie Karanja 9 Collins Njoroge
10 Charles Wachira 11 John Makau 12 Winnie Karanja
13 Collins Njoroge 14 Charles Wachira 15 Kyalo Ian
16 Okumu Ian 17 Joseph Njenga 18 Irene Kimani
19 Simon Mulwa 20 Ancentus Makau 21 Emmah Kimari
22 Peter Kamoro 23 Polycap Okeyo 24 Khwolo Kabara
25 Chris Mureithi 26 Stephen Mwangi 27 Jimmy Koskei
28 Bashir Shelkh 29 Gaylord Odhiambo 30 Charles Waitiki
31 Mary Waweru 32 Rose Kinuthia 33 Vicky Gatobu
34 Jeremiah Kuria 35 Mercy Maina 36 Njoroge Daniel
37 Muthiani Jayson 38 Sammy Mugambi 39 Peter Kariuki
40 Alan Mwathe 41 Gitau Isaac 42 Daniel Biwott
43 Ngumo Nthenge 43 Gitau Moses 44 Njoroge Edward
45 Ambrose Mbae 46 Stephen Oduor 47 Elvis Shida
48 Mwembe Emmanuel 49 Waithaka Kennedy 50 Tabitha Akinyi
51 Brian Kimathi 52 Lusenaka Alvin 53 Kamau Karogo
54 Nechewnje Ian 55 Daniel Ondigo 56 Nyongesa K Tom
57 Kevin Ruo 58 Christopher Mulwa 59 Ngacha Duncan
60 Mark Ngatia 61 Sarah Waiganjo 62 Eugene Ogongo
63 Jacob Kenneth 65 Pius Nyongesa

The Data-At-Risk Task Group (DAR-TG) In Expansive Mood

This post comes from Elizabeth Griffin, chair of the Data at Risk Task Group

Wherdiwe go? Boulder. Whadiwe get? Bolder! Whediwe get it? Now!! (or, to be precise, dar-workshop10-09-2016this past week, Sept 8–9). Whawill we do? MAke Things Happen!!!

Over 50 of us were able to drop everything and get to NCAR in Boulder (CO, USA) for a 2-day Workshop on the Rescue oDatAt Risk (defined as raw or meagerly-reduced data in non-electronic or primitive digital media and formats, often with separated or insufficient metadata, and all without promise of adequate preservation). We came from most quarters of the globe: Tasmania, South Africa, Ethiopia, India, Italy and England, as well as from Canada and the USA itself. Graciously hosted by NCAR at its Center Green site, and generously sponsored by the RDA, Elsevier and the Sloan Foundation, this Workshop was without doubt a scene of Work, demanding the full attention of everyone through 5 organized 1-hour break-out sessions to discuss the 5 themes of the meeting: (1) locating (and often rescuing) “at risk” data, (2) preserving them for the longer term, (3) digitizing them, (4) adding (and preserving) necessary metadata, and (5) depositing and disseminating the end products appropriately. Oral case studies and reports set the individual scenes, and numerous posters provided additional thought-provoking materials. We all “worked”, and we all scrutinized what was being offered before “shopping”, and at the end of the two days our boldness had seen true growth.

Parallel responses to questions posed to each break-out group are now furnishing input to on-line Guidelines for Rescuing Data At Risk, which DAR-TG will produce, and prompted ideas for the reference handbook (just a little further down the line) which will also be prepared.

Our determination to “MAke Things Happen” also engendered commitments (1) to run sub-TG groups with specific foci on (a) metadata, (b) catalogues of at-risk data rescued or to-be rescued and (c) the location and preservation of hardware (aka tape-readers and their ilk) and science- specific software, (2) to organize “regional” workshops as a means to engage the great many other interested parties which are also “out there”, and (3) to fund and appoint an early-career Fellow to coordinate a TG-wide investigation of a specific them (tbd, possibly “Water in the World”) where just about every facet of “at-risk” data, from the earth’s atmosphere down to its fossils, has invaluable evidence to contribute.

These plans will of course take time and effort, and some of them resources too, and even formulating them was itself quite exhausting (despite the scrumptious refreshments and meals created and served by the bountiful UCAR kitchen), but our “demonstration” proved without doubt that consolidating and proliferating our re-channelled ideas and objectives will and must be MAde To Happen. The ultimate humanitarian benefits, even just in the domain of meteorology in tropical countries, as featured in the heart-rending details given by Rick Crouthamel’s Public Lecture on “A World Heritage in Peril”, will be more than ample rewards.

We boldeon!

CODATA Mourns Former President, David Abir

David Abir

David Abir (1922-2016), CODATA President 1990-1994

The CODATA community recently learnt with regret of the death of David Abir, former CODATA President.

David Abir, was elected CODATA President at the 1990 General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio, USA. He served as a President for four years. He was an aeronautical engineer with special interest in properties of engineering materials and fluid dynamics.

‘During his Presidency,’ observes John Rumble, former President of CODATA, ‘Abir worked assiduously to ensure inclusiveness for all CODATA members and preparing CODATA to be a key participant in the emerging global information and connectivity revolution.’

In CODATA activities, he was prominent in the ‘Industrial Data Commission’:

This Commission was established in 1984 to guide the Executive Committee on the data needs of the industry. It was chaired by Jack Westbrook, a US physicist who had a long career as an industrial materials expert for General Electric, and included members who worked in the chemical, aeronautics, metallurgical, and other industries. Among other activities, the Commission conducted in 1985 an International Workshop on Materials Data Systems for Engineering in Schluchsee, Germany, that addressed industrial needs and recommended to start several new CODATA activities. One of its recommendations was to set up a Task Group on Materials Database Standards, later broadened to include other aspects of database management.

Industrial Data Commission

The CODATA Industrial Data Commission in the 1980s: David Abir is seated in the centre.

David Lide, who was an active member of CODATA during Abir’s era, writes: ‘I worked with David Abir for many years, both before and during his term as CODATA President. He made many contributions to CODATA, especially by encouraging more emphasis on data of engineering importance, in keeping with his career as an aeronautical engineer. Moreover, he was a voice of reason in the sometimes contentious debates over the directions that CODATA should take.’

Gordon Wood, also an active member during Abir’s era, writes: ‘Having first met David Abir at the CODATA Conference in Jerusalem in 1984, we worked closely together from 1990-94 as President and Secretary General respectively. David took his responsibilities very seriously and consistently sought what was best for CODATA’s future, both scientifically and organizationally. I will remember David as a gentleman and colleague.’

David Abir CODATA History

David Abir at the CODATA General Assembly in 1990

The Israeli National CODATA Committee wishes to point out some additional activities and achievements of Prof. Abir:

Prof David Abir (1922-2016) contributed during his long career as scientist and engineer to numerous activities for the benefit of his country and the scientific community. Starting in 1943, he served as a chief instructor of the aero club of Palestine; later he served in the Israeli Air Force, when it was formed in 1948; he was one of the founders of the Faculty of Aeronautical Engineering at the Technion, The Israeli Institute of Technology, where he was also the Dean of Faculty in 1962-64. He joined Tel-Aviv University in 1972, and was Associate Dean of the Faculty of Engineering (1972-1980). David Abir was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, London, and a Fellow of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London, both since 1965.

Abir was deputy chairman of the Israel Space Agency, Ministry of Science and Technology (1983-7), and its director general in 1985-87. He was an active member of the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of ICSU. Until his retirement he served as the chairman of the National Committee for Space Research (1972- 2005) and a chairman of the Israeli National CODATA Committee. Abir continued to serve the scientific community for many years, even after his formal retirement.

Reuven Granot, a member of Israeli CODATA Committee: ‘As a member of The National CODATA Committee, I worked with Prof. David Abir during the last three decades. His kindness, openness to help and his willing to share his enormous experience and knowledge with others was outstanding. I shall remember David, as a close friend and scientific leader to follow.’

The CODATA Executive Committee and Officers wish to express their profound regret at the passing of this distinguished, highly-esteemed colleague and friend. Our condolences go to David’s family and friends.