Invitation to Collaborate on the Global Open Science Cloud Initiative
The major global scientific and human challenges of the 21st century (including COVID-19 and future pandemics, anthropogenic climate change, sustainable development, and disaster risk reduction) can only be addressed through cross-domain research that seeks to understand complex systems through machine-assisted analysis at scale. The digital revolution can accelerate such research by means of the Open Science paradigm comprising the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) Principles, rigorous scientific transparency, and intelligent openness. A number of governments and research funders have adopted policies promoting or requiring Open Science and the FAIR Principles. Notably in this regard, UNESCO is currently preparing a Recommendation on Open Science.
State-of-the-art research infrastructures are needed. A number of initiatives are underway or emerging that aim to provide holistic support for Open Science and FAIR. These include, but are not limited to, the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), the China Science and Technology Cloud (CSTCloud), the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), the Malaysian Open Science Platform, the African Open Science Platform, the planned broadening of LA Referencia in Latin America, as well as Canada’s NDRIO and Germany’s NFDI. Going by slightly different names, these initiatives share common features, including: achieving scientific benefits and economies of scale through shared e-Infrastructure; facilitating the adoption of Open Science practices and the implementation of the FAIR Principles; and enhancing existing domain infrastructures, while breaking down silos and facilitating cross-domain research to address pressing societal and planetary issues.
The Global Open Science Cloud (GOSC) initiative aims to encourage cooperation, and ultimately alignment and interoperability, between these and similar initiatives. The benefits of Open Science/Research Cloud/Platform/Commons initiatives such as those listed in the preceding paragraph are likely to be significant: the benefits will be even greater if alignment can be achieved on a global scale.
With the aim of encouraging cooperation, and ultimately alignment and interoperability, among these and similar endeavours, the Global Open Science Cloud (GOSC) initiative will go forward as an integral part of the ISC CODATA Decadal Program ‘Making Data Work for Cross Domain Grand Challenges’. The vision for a global coordinating activity emerged from a number of discussions, including those at the 2019 CODATA Conference in Beijing, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) has granted seed funding for CNIC to help launch the initiative. A series of subsequent meetings and workshops, including the EGI, CNIC, and CODATA GOSC Workshop, and the GOSC Panel and GOSC Parallel Session during the International FAIR Convergence Symposium 2020, have helped validate and enrich the GOSC concept. A CODATA GOSC Steering Group was established to help develop the foundations for the initiative and to ensure that it is fully international.
GOSC will pursue its activities through thematic Working Groups addressing a number of challenges shared by Open Science Clouds. These include:
- Governance and Sustainability: sharing experiences and good practice.
- Policy and Legal Dimensions: aligning principles, policies and exploring legal issues.
- Technical Infrastructure: including network connectivity and protocols, secure Authentication and Authorization Infrastructure (AAI), mechanisms for federation of computing , data and other services.
- Data Interoperability: including identifiers, semantic services, rigorous contextual and provenance metadata, analytical tools and virtual research environments.
GOSC will also develop Case Studies of domain and cross-domain research supported by different Open Science infrastructures. Four Case Studies are currently planned: Incoherent scatter radar data fusion and computation, Biodiversity and ecology information platform, SDG-13 climate change and natural disasters, and Sensitive data federation analysis model in population health. The Case Studies will provide a concrete grounding and exemplars for the topics listed above.
Invitation to collaborate
The GOSC initiative invites participation from the Open Science infrastructures described above, from international research communities and from the major global data organisations. CODATA, GO FAIR, the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and the World Data System (WDS) have developed the Data Together partnership in order to enhance their collaboration ‘to optimize the research data ecosystem’. The RDA GORC IG and the RDA GORC Benchmarking WG are ‘working on a set of deliverables to support coordination amongst organizations that are building commons, including a roadmap for global alignment to help set priorities for commons development and integration’. The GOSC initiative will collaborate with and build on that work, as described in the Data Together statement ‘Fostering Cooperation Among Open Science Platforms’.
To join the GOSC initiative and participate in Working Groups and/or Case Studies, sign-up here.
Launch Meeting, 28 June 2021, and Next Steps
As a first step, the GOSC initiative will hold a virtual meeting in June 2021, to initiate the Working Groups and Case Studies. Further virtual events will be organised throughout 2021 and early 2022 to build towards the first International Symposium on Global Open Science Cloud, which is currently planned for May 2022 in Beijing, with the aim of providing a venue for the ongoing dialogue between global research clouds, stakeholders and related initiatives.
The circumstances of the pandemic and the future post-pandemic world call for increased collaboration to confront global grand challenges. The GOSC initiative provides an opportunity for constructive cooperation, in support of Open Science and the realisation of the global vision presented in the draft UNESCO Recommendation. It has been said that ‘if you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together’. The GOSC initiative invites your participation to help realise this vision.