EC unveils European Open Science Cloud Initiative for research data
On 19 April 2016, the European Commission (EC) presented its plans for the European Open Science Cloud Initiative, for cloud-based services and world-class data infrastructure to ensure science, business and public services benefit from the big data revolution.
So far, according to the EC, Europe is the largest producer of scientific data in the world, but insufficient and fragmented infrastructure means this 'big data' is not being exploited to its full potential. The EC is therefore planning to bolster and interconnect existing research infrastructure, to create a new European Open Science Cloud that will offer Europe's 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals a virtual environment to store, share and re-use their data across disciplines and borders. The European Open Science Cloud will be underpinned by the European Data Infrastructure, deploying the high-bandwidth networks, large scale storage facilities and super-computer capacity necessary to effectively access and process large datasets stored in the cloud. This infrastructure will ensure Europe participates in the global race for high performance computing in line with its economic and knowledge potential.
Initially, the Cloud will focus on the scientific community, but in the course of time the user base will be expanded to include the public sector and industry. The European Open Science Could initiative is part of a package of measures to strengthen Europe's position in data-driven innovation, to improve competitiveness and cohesion and to help create a Digital Single Market in Europe.
When presenting the initiative, Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "Our goal is to create a European Open Science Cloud to make science more efficient and productive and let millions of researchers share and analyse research data in a trusted environment across technologies, disciplines and borders. We listened to the scientific community's plea for an infrastructure for Open Science and with this comprehensive plan we can get down to work. The benefits of open data for Europe's science, economy and society will be enormous."
The schedule according to which the EC is planning to implement the European Cloud Initiative is as follows:
- As of 2016: creating a European Open Science Cloud for European researchers and their global scientific collaborators by integrating and consolidating e-infrastructure platforms, federating existing scientific clouds and research infrastructures, and supporting the development of cloud-based services.
- 2017: opening up by default all scientific data produced by future projects under Horizon 2020, to ensure that the scientific community can re-use the enormous amount of data they generate.
- 2018: launching a flagship-type initiative to accelerate the nascent development of quantum technology, which is the basis for the next generation of supercomputers.
- By 2020: developing and deploying a large scale European high performance computing, data storage and network infrastructure, including by acquiring two prototype next-generation supercomputers of which one would rank among the top three in the world, establishing a European big data centre, and upgrading the backbone network for research and innovation (GEANT).
The EC estimates the public and private investment needed to implement the European Cloud Initiative at € 6.7 billion, of which the EC expects € 2 billion to be allocated to the initiative from Horizon 2020 funding. The remaining funding is to come from additional public and private investment of € 4.7 billion over a period of 5 years.
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