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Canada's New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization Announces MOU with Ocean Networks Canada
The New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO) and Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) have signed an MOU that will enhance the promotion of science for the public good, providing valuable open-source, research-driven data for Canadian and international researchers alike.
NDRIO is providing funding in the amount of $140,000 to the World Data System's International Technology Office (ITO), hosted by ONC at the University of Victoria, to support the execution of two key work packages: 1) harvestable metadata services and 2) promoting and facilitating the implementation of Schema.org (adding schema.org markup to metadata).
"The funding will provide dedicated resources to develop collaborative partnerships among the ITO, its members, and international and Canadian interest groups to increase the availability and sharing of metadata globally," says Dr. Karen Payne, Associate Director for International Technology at the World Data System, a component of the International Science Council.
Metadata is a description of data that makes finding and working with particular sets of data easier. For instance, if a health researcher needs to find data depicting a specific COVID-19 sequence, searching large volumes of data would take an enormous amount of time and computing power. Instead, they can search the metadata description that matches the criteria they are looking for, directing them to the data itself.
"The ultimate goal of these RDM initiatives is to open up more metadata records to the international scientific community, including an increase of Canadian datasets," says Dr. Payne.
The first work package will support members of the international scientific data management community to develop the ability to harvest or copy metadata from other repositories into their own metadata stores. That way, they can take advantage of research that has been conducted by other institutions and other countries. "Science doesn't stop at the water's edge," says Dr. Payne. "We need distributed metadata structures that reflect that."
The second work package will explore the appropriateness of using search engines to help users find data outside of traditional repositories. "We can create web structures that will allow people to use Google to search for data in the same way they search for webpages or maps," says Dr. Payne. "This would make data more easily available not only to other scientists, but to the general public and journalists. Using web structures can help democratize access to data."
Building on the work underway with Research Data Canada, and the CARL Portage Network as relates to repository certification, the funding will be used to hire two full-time ITO staff members to work on these work packages. Researcher Alicia Urquidi Diaz is the ITO's first work package hire; recruiting is currently underway for the second role.
Supporting a researcher-centric, collaborative and agile digital research infrastructure (DRI) community across Canada is central to NDRIO's mandate. This includes supporting the principles of Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and Reusability (FAIR).
"NDRIO exists so Canada's academic researchers can remain globally competitive, benefitting our society as a whole," says George Ross, Interim Executive Director of NDRIO. "Funding activities in data management, such as these dual work packages, is critical as our country moves toward a comprehensive RDM strategy."
NDRIO is a key initiative of the national $572.5 million DRI strategy initiated by the Government of Canada. Through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, the federal government will provide up to $375 million over five years to NDRIO, allowing it to coordinate and fund activities in Advanced Research Computing (ARC), Data Management (DM) and Research Software (RS). NDRIO is providing the digital tools, services and infrastructure that scholars and scientists need to conduct the kind of leading-edge research that enables Canada to compete on the world stage.