Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Notes from NERC Data Management workshop 1

David Bloomer, NERC CIO (and Finance Director) opened the workshop, and talked about data acquisition, data curation, data access, and data exploitation, in the context of developing NERC Information Strategy. Apparently NERC does not currently have an Information Strategy, as the last effort was thrown out in Council. Clearly from his point of view, the issue was about working out whether data management is being done well enough, and how it can be done better within the resources available.

There were some interesting comments about licensing and charging: principles that I summarise as:
  • encouraging re-use and re-purposing,
  • all free for teaching and research,
  • that the licence and its cost depends on the USE and not the USER, and
  • that NERC should support all kinds of data users equally.
Not sure yet the full implications of this; it clearly doesn’t mean that all data is freely accessible to everyone! However, it sounds like a major improvement over recent practices, with some NERC bodies charging high prices for some of their data.

In the second session, after my talk which I have already blogged (although not the 20 minutes of panic when first the PowerPoint transferred from my Mac would not load up on Windows, and second my Mac would not recognise the external video for the projectors!), there were two short talks by Dominic Lowe from BADC on Climate Science Modelling Language, and Tim Duffy from BGS on GeoSciML.

My notes on the former are skeletal in the extreme (ie nonsense!), other than that it is an application of GML, and is based on a data model expressed with UML. However, I picked up a bit more about the latter.

The scope of GeoSciML is the scientific information linked to the geography, except the cartography. It is mainly interpretive or descriptive, and so far includes 25 internationally-agreed vocabularies. Taken 5 years or so to develop to this point. Based around GML, using UML for modelling, using OGC web services to render maps, format, query etc. Provides interoperability and perhaps a “unified” view, but does not require change to local (end) systems, nor to local schemas. Part of the claimed value of the process was exposing that they did not understand their data as well as they thought!


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