DANS & NIOO start pilot: data infrastructure for sustainable and advanced use of ecological data 

14 September 2022

DANS and the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) – both part of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) – are joining forces and starting a pilot project to make existing ecological data suitable for advanced data use, both now and in the future.

FAIR and suitable for advanced analysis

As is the case within many scientific organisations and research institutes, particularly complete and detailed datasets have been constructed at the NIOO over the past decades. In the case of the NIOO for specific ecological research – for example about birds on the Veluwe and their various food sources – data will be used for this pilot. These data are digital, but therefore not yet FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Re-usable). It is also unclear how exactly these datasets fit into data networks and catalogues needed for advanced analysis and modeling purposes such as Artificial Intelligence and real-world simulations in Digital Twins. 

The challenge of making this kind of ecological data FAIR coincides with one of the major technical developments within DANS: archiving data in a sustainable and standardised way, but also making it optimally suited for reuse and various data interactions. In other words, generating and recording data only once, yet facilitating very diverse, interoperable and multiple data use. Within the pilot, both organisations are working on the workflows needed to achieve this data goal, which is relevant for different types of data and scientific disciplines.

Data-driven science

The pilot contributes to data-driven scientific developments in the Netherlands and Europe. Big data allows scientists to create digital copies of the real world and use these simulations to investigate and understand the functioning of their research objects. Modelling, predicting and controlling complex systems is applied in research on global climate change, the human body and ecosystems, among others. Disciplines where technical advances, such as satellite observations or automated DNA sequencing, create continuous streams of data, operate at the forefront of these data-driven sciences. Research areas such as ecology are playing catch-up. 

The reason for this pilot is a Large-Scale Research Infrastructure (LSRI) proposal submitted earlier this year that fits within the National Roadmap Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructures. This LSRI proposal, called LTER-LIFE, is coordinated by the NIOO and focuses on the creation of Digital Twins for ecosystems such as the Veluwe and the Wadden Sea.  

KNAW Research Fund

The DANS – NIOO pilot is funded by the KNAW research fund. This fund enables KNAW institutes to implement new interdisciplinary developments and ensures that the institutes can play a connecting and coordinating role in specific research fields. The fund also promotes the sustainable storage and accessibility of valuable and unique scientific data. 

Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash

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