11/08/2012 04:52 PM EST
The National Science Foundation today awarded a $2.5-million grant to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to enable its participation in a new international organization that will accelerate research data sharing among scientists around the globe.
The grant will be used to develop a Research Data Alliance (RDA) that will allow researchers the world over to collaboratively use scientific data to speed up innovation.
To date, more than 120 U.S. and international participants are helping conceptualize the organization and populate its first efforts. Along with scientific and data leaders from the United States, members from Australia and the European Union are part of the new alliance’s organizational steering committee. U.S. participation will be led by Rensselaer Computer Science Professor Francine Berman.
“The Research Data Alliance addresses a world-wide need for efforts that accelerate data-driven innovation,” Berman said. “The National Science Foundation, with U.S. and international partners, is expanding the global conversation on data-driven research. Community development of the RDA will contribute to the global infrastructure needed for new discovery and insights.”
The international launch and first plenary of the RDA will be held in Gothenburg, Sweden, in March of 2013.
As an example of gains that can be expected from the RDA, Berman explained that researchers sharing open-access data sets about a particular disease would increase the pool of information, and therefore, the potential for insights that can only be gained at large scale.
She added that the coordination of economic data sets, geographic data sets and census data to create urban data sets can be used to make strategic predictions about programs and initiatives that can improve the quality of life in cities. “All of us use digital information every day to augment our lives in innovative ways,” Berman said. “The goal of the Research Data Alliance is to help researchers work with a world of useful digital information more innovatively and at scale.”
“RDA today is a timely, ambitious and practical advance in data sharing that is key to scientific collaboration, enabling discoveries to address needs of our global society,” said Robert Chadduck, NSF program director for data and cyberinfrastructure, which funded the grant. “We are proud to join our global colleagues in supporting this initiative.”