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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”, 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

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 [] 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 []. 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 [] 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 [] 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 ( provided research data set on nutritional value, germination and yields of indigenous African vegetables.
  2. Prof John Wesonga ( provided research data set on best conditions of growing French beans with minimum application of pesticides.
  3. Prof. Simon Karanja ( provided research data on the effects of Khat on users in Kenya.
  4. Dr. Frida Wanzala ( provided research data on papaya growing areas in Kenya.
  5. Dr. Peter Kahenya( provided research data on various conditions that affect cooking time of different types of beans.
  6. Dr. John Kinyuru ( provided research data on nutritional formulas of various local Kenyan foods.
  7. Mr. Francis Ombwara ( 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 (
  2. IBM East Africa ( )
  3. CODATA ( )
  4. AFRICA ai JAPAN Project (
  5. Kenya Open Data Initiative ( )

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 when ready.


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.


Data Diplomacy: Political and Social Dimensions of Data Collection and Data Sharing

P1011328This post is by Angela Murillo, a member of CODATA Early Career Data Professionals Group, and Doctoral Candidate and Research Associate at the Metadata Research Center of the School of Information and Library Science at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

WUN – Data Diplomacy Workshop engages scientists to consider diplomacy in relation to scientific data.

On October 28-19th, 2015, I had opportunity to attend the WUN (World University Network) Data Diplomacy workshop titled “Data Diplomacy: Political and Social Dimensions of Data Collection and Data Sharing” organized by the University of Rochester and the Worldwide University Network. This workshop gathered a group of scientists and diplomats representing various disciplines who spent two days sharing experiences, expertise, and ideas in regards to data diplomacy. I was fortunate to attend as a representative of the CODATA Early Career Data Professional Working Group.

The workshop was held at the New York Academy of Sciences. For two days, we discussed the many aspects important to data diplomacy including:

  • What is data diplomacy?
  • Data Democratization
  • Data Governance and Regulation
  • Data Diplomacy for Data Curation
  • Data Sharing and Standards
  • Science Diplomacy

Dr. Timothy D. Dye, from the University of Rochester, School of Medicine & Dentistry organized and led the workshop. Additionally Dr. Jane Gateway from the University of Rochester Office of Global Engagement assisted with leading the program. Ten scientists and diplomats from around the world attending representing various disciplines including:

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Computer Science and Information Science
  • Earth Science
  • Epidemiology

Participants of the WUN Data Diplomacy Workshop at the New York Academy of Sciences.

Through the discussion, we were able to establish 1) drivers for data diplomacy and 2) a working definitions for data diplomacy. Drivers for data diplomacy included a need to understand barriers and opportunities of complex data that is now available, as well as understanding how data is a driver of local and global acts, and how it allows for new relationships. Additionally we established some working definitions of data diplomacy including: 1) “data diplomacy creates, supports, or maintains technical or social relationships to mitigate barriers to action among stakeholders by enabling the use of data for societal benefit” and 2) “data diplomacy incorporates skills derived from diplomacy and data science with stakeholder needs, and recognizes that data itself is now an agent”. These definitions and attributes are being developed as we work on several publications in relation to Data Diplomacy.

Lastly, we developed a work plan which includes research to 1) describe the basic concepts of data diplomacy, 2) describe governance, standards, practices, and frameworks relevant to data diplomacy, 3) identify application of local diplomacy, and 4) create a set of use cases and identify empirical evidence of data diplomacy.

This workshop was a wonderful opportunity to contribute to an important discussion and new and evolving area of study; the intersection of diplomacy, data science, and stakeholders. Those who attended continue moving forward with our work plan, and hope to be able to report on publications as soon they are available.

CODATA TG Anthropometry and Special Populations activities at AHFE 2015

AHFE_2015Anthropometry is the science of measuring body dimensions, and has evolved over the last decades from taking linear measures to 3D data capture and processing.

The objective of the CODATA Task Group on Anthropometric Data and Engineering (the previous incarnation of the current TG) was to
promote dissemination and development of knowledge in anthropometry to contribute to the improvement of health, the safety and of the well being of all people. A major achievement of that TG to this end was to assist the establishment of WEAR (the World Engineering Anthropometry Resource) project.

The 2015 Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE) Conference in Las Vegas, USA was
held under the auspices of 25 distinguished international Boards consisting of 583 members from 43 countries. The conference included 223 parallel sessions, with 2988 submissions from
researchers in 64 countries, working in academia, industry and government. There were 1420
paper presentations and 185 posters included in the conference proceedings. AHFE 2015 was
attended by over 1500 participants.

anthropometrics_banner_conference updatedThe CODATA Task Group on Anthropometry, Fit and Accommodation for Special Populations met in
conjunction with this conference and discussed the following issues:

In addition, presentations were given by:
Dr. Chang Shu, ‘Data processing and analysis for the 2012 Canadian Forces 3D anthropometric survey’.

This paper has been published in the HFES proceedings as Chang Shua, Pengcheng Xia, Allan Keefe, ‘Data processing and analysis for the 2012 Canadian Forces 3D anthropometric survey’, Procedia Manufacturing (6th International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics (AHFE 2015) and the Affiliated Conferences, AHFE 2015):

Kathleen Robinette & Daisy Veitch
Chairs of the CODATA Task Group on Anthropometric Data and Engineeringkathleen_robinette_daisy_veitch

CODATA Collection in Zenodo: Recent Reports

zenodo-gradient-1000For a little while now, CODATA has been using Zenodo as a repository for our most important reports, statements and some presentations.

Zenodo is an openly-available digital repository ‘launched within the OpenAIREplus project as part of a Europe-wide research infrastructure.’  See the About and FAQs for further information.  Like many innovative parts of the data infrastructure, Zenodo is still developing a sustainability model: we certainly hope that it is around for the long term.

Zenodo has a clean and attractive interface and it is easy to use.  Above all, we like it because it allows the creation of Communities or Collections, assigns DOIs and provides Altmetrics.

CODATA Reports in Zenodo

Below is a list of the recent CODATA publications in Zenodo.

The Value of Open Data Sharing: A CODATA White Paper for the Group on Earth Observations:

This White Paper was prepared for the GEO-XII Plenary in Mexico City by the GEO Participating Organization CODATA (the ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology). Through showcasing diverse benefits of open Earth observations data, the paper is designed to facilitate the process of transitioning from restricted data policies to more open policies for government data. This document was submitted to GEO-XII for its information and use. Supplementary case studies are most welcome.

CODATA Report: Current Best Practice for Research Data Management Policies:

Report on Current Best Practice for Research Data Management Policies commissioned from CODATA by the Danish e-Infrastructure Cooperation and the Danish Digital Library and submitted in May 2014.

CODATA Recommended Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants: 2014

This document gives the 2014 self-consistent set of values of the constants and conversion factors of physics and chemistry recommended by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA). These values are based on a least-squares adjustment that takes into account all data available up to 31 December 2014. The recommended values may also be found at

CODATA Recommended Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants: 2014 – Summary

This paper provides a brief summary of the work of the CODATA Task Group on Fundamental Physical Constants to produce the 2014 CODATA Recommended Values of the Fundamental Physical Constants.

CODATA Data Sharing Principles in Developing Countries:

The ‘Data Sharing Principles in Developing Countries’, or ‘Nairobi Data Sharing Principles’ were developed by participants of the CODATA Workshop on Open Data for Science and Sustainability in Developing Countries held on 6-8 August 2014 at UNESCO in the United Nations Offices in Nairobi, Kenya.

CODATA Uniform Description System for Materials on the Nanoscale v1.0:

Uniform Description System for Materials on the Nanoscale v1.0, prepared by the CODATA-VAMAS Working Group On the Description of Nanomaterials.

RDA Plenary 6: ‘Allez les filles’!

EGriffin-244x237 (1)This post is by Elizabeth Griffin, chair of the CODATA Data at Risk Task Group, and co-chair of the related RDA Interest Group on Data Rescue.

rda6_IMG_0461_(c)cap_digitalRDA Plenary 6 took place in balmy late September in the centre of Paris, within the confines of CNAM (Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers) and just down the road from the République. Inaugurated in 1794, CNAM took over a deserted Priory and formally opened in 1802.

As well as housing a museum of innovations relevant to science and industry, it also (and primarily) serves as an adult educational centre, with emphases on practical training in science and engineering on the one hand and management and social sciences on the other. Whether it rose adequately to the challenge of a sudden influx of nearly 600 RDA delegates is more subjective.rda6_IMG_0605_(c)cap_digital

A marquee in the central court provided what should have been a good meeting point for meal-time discussions, but the wooden floor and harsh surrounds offered abysmal acoustics, encouraging many to retreat outside and perch on the stone window-sills (sunshine permitting). Whether delegates succeeded in locating and reaching the right meeting-rooms (either conventional classrooms or formal tiered theatres) allocated to their sessions depended on perseverance as well as physical fitness, offering a learning curve as steep as the flights of stairs. But none of that affected the characteristic-RDA zest of the meeting, which included the (now regular) admix of numerous IG, WG, BoF and formal plenary sessions.

800px-A_la_Gloire_de_la_République_FrançaiseWhat signs of the Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité, suggested by such proximity to the République? My French dictionary (1988 edition) offers no equivalent to `sorority’ or `sisterhood’, and a hard-hitting talk by Dame Wendy Hall to a Women-in-RDA breakfast meeting hinted that the emergence of women in both science and practical society is still Work in Progress. Women are climbing the scientific career-ladders, but not as quickly as some of the pointers anticipate. Where, then, is France?

Yet evidence of Progress abounded, even at the opening session: an impressive Keynote presentation by Barbara Ryan (Earth Observations, Geneva), “Unleashing the Power of Earth Observations – Together”, encouraged collaboration not competition, while the Minister of State for Digital Technology in the French Ministry of Economy, Industry and Digital Technology, who made a flying visit to give a welcome address, proved – much to our surprise – to be a young working mother. Allez les filles !

rda6plenary_axelle_lemaire_(c)_capdigital_550pxWomen carry quite a load between them at plenaries, this one being no exception. It would be instructive to see a gender disaggregation of Chairs, and to look for any bias between (for instance) those addressing social and educational matters on the one hand, and science, engineering and data management on the other.

Do women have the Liberté to select their chosen and fulfilling careers, or is true Egalité still a dream for a future that must coin a new word to represent the “togetherness” of our scientific efforts? Add does it matter? Yes, in some ways the matter is crucial.

800px-Place_de_la_République_-_ÉgalitéOrganizations, whether for research or for data management, share a common structure that is inevitably somewhat vertical, and in which actual power lies with those who are designers and builders. We don’t intentionally spend resources duplicating what is already extant; life is too short, and we accept and apply what is provided, be it a computer system, a hierarchy of data management, an educational set-up or a scheme for raising funds.

Even apart from some recognized differences in thought processes between “male” and “female” mind-types, other biologically-related forces simply cannot be ignored, like body language (oh for uniform attire!) or a reputed capacity for multi-tasking. And if there is one place that needs to embrace multi-tasking it is surely the RDA. Greater aggregation, or clustering, of the over-many topics that are now registered as Interest Groups would enhance the complementary aspects of a number of rather similar-looking sessions, while more plenaries would result in greater emphasis on the broader picture and thence on the raison d’être of the RDA.