The following response was provided from the ANDS, Nectar and RDS Directors to the department of education in relation to the 2016 National Research Infrustruture Roadmap.
The Australian Research Data Cloud:
At a time when solutions to the world’s greatest challenges require global, multi-disciplinary collaboration, the Australian Research Data Cloud will deliver an integrated, coherent and reliable base to accelerate the transition to a data-intensive research environment and ensure that data is exploited to its full potential. It will provide a world-leading data advantage for Australia, foster innovation and collaboration for borderless research and enhance the translation of research.
The ANDS, Nectar and RDS Directors agree that the establishment of an Australian Research Data Cloud, building on the data and collaboration investments to date, will transform the Australian research environment. It will optimise Australia’s ability to collaborate nationally and with international researchers and research infrastructure, notably with the European Open Science Cloud and similar initiatives and engage with industry on data intensive problems crucial to Australia’s future. ANDS, Nectar and RDS support this important integrating investment.
ANDS, Nectar and RDS recognise the importance of engaging actively with other NCRIS investments that produce, integrate, analyse, manage, and transform data. This will build on substantial existing engagements with domains, including Oceans, Biosciences, and Ecosystems through the Nectar Science Cloud activity recently supported through the Agility Fund. The emphasis on platforms to support industry engagement over trusted research outputs is a strong common theme to ANDS, Nectar and RDS.
ANDS, Nectar and RDS recognise that the Australian Research Data Cloud will establish deep linkages across the Digital Data and eResearch Platforms focus area, recognising the important data capabilities provided through national Tier 1 HPC investments, the critical role of advanced research networks in underpinning a national data-intensive research strategy and the benefits of leveraging the national authentication capabilities provided through the Australian Access Federation. The Australian Research Data Cloud will also seek to integrate and interoperate with institutional investments in data and compute infrastructure.
While the importance of data and methods has been recognised in the Roadmap, the importance of the transformational impact of this investment is worth noting, as it is likely to inform the particular data investment:
1. A world leading data advantage: Accessible data and methods generated by the whole of the national research infrastructure investment will enable researchers to address challenges in new ways, because findable, accessible, interoperable and re-useable data creates new research and innovation opportunities. The optimisation of data requires a partnership between data generating capabilities and the proposed Australian Research Data Cloud. For example, the shared data resources being generated by IMOS and marine research groups have substantially enabled international collaboration, which are supported by powerful collaborative environments such as the Marine Virtual Laboratory. Equally the international data resources made available through EMBL-ABR enables strong community engagement. Importantly, this data advantage can lead directly to policy outcomes, for example when health data is married with urban data and environmental data, that can directly lead to whole of community benefit. The advantages highlighted by new data initiatives envisaged by the Productivity Commission should mean that the research and Government sectors can engage much more richly over data, building further advantage.
2. Innovation is accelerated: Researchers will be able to create the data tools and services that they need, from reliable, configurable and reusable foundations, without needing to build from the ground up. In providing this environment, the innovation burden will be greatly reduced, and a platform for collaboration that enables innovation to flourish will be provided. For example, by providing robust platforms for best of breed tools, researchers are able to access and use tools at greater level of confidence, and with greater ease through the RDS Omics Platform.
3. Collaboration for borderless research: Research communities will be working in a data-rich environment with all of the underlying data, methods, and services to enable collaboration. This requires a partnership between the Australian Research Data Cloud, research communities and industry. The ability to create new collaborative platforms such as Nectar’s virtual laboratories over rich data resources focused on NCRIS domains has demonstrated this lift in collaboration. For example the Nectar Industrial Ecology Virtual Laboratory enables studies on future biofuel industries for Australia, industrial symbiosis and material efficiency, and on waste metal flows.
4. Enhanced translation of research: Reliable and available outputs of research, including data, methods and models, will enable translation across industry, policy and national research priorities. Industry, institutions and research communities can build research strategies and partnerships confident in highly reliable data. This requires a partnership between the Australian Research Data Cloud, industry and research. For example, the partnership between ANDS and AURIN has enabled public sector data providers to engage with researchers on their own data, resulting in improved urban, health and environmental outcomes, through data driven policy outcomes. Further international engagement with major initiatives such as the European Open Science Cloud, also focused on translation, will enhance Australian translation. The examples here demonstrate that investment in data and collaboration infrastructure to date has been transformative; the investment proposed in the Roadmap will accelerate this transformation through improved integration and a greater focus on a holistic data and methods environment. ANDS, Nectar and RDS have been working increasingly closely to ensure a future investment is able to be formed as seamlessly as possible, and are ready to participate in the proposed process to ensure that a strong Australian Research Data Cloud delivers on the benefits described in the Roadmap.