LifeWatch is an e-infrastructure, and in this respect there are three tentative contributions that have been developed with the objective to encouraging collaborative work and cutting down research time: EGI-InSpire; Ibergrid and ViBrant. As for the support for providing e-services and virtual research environments there were some interesting projects: ViBrant, BioVEL, EU-Brazil OpenBio and RediamE.
Firstly, Tiziana Ferrari, director of EGI-InSpire explained the main milestones of this four-year project, born in 2010 within the European Grid Infrastructure foundation. Its mission was to expand the European Grid, deploying new services to give support for current heavy users of science --from astronomy to life sciences or physics--, incorporate other users like the Esfri projects and establish procedures to integrate new technologies.
In that manner, it paved the way towards joining together the new distributed computing structures such as clouds, supercomputing networks and desktop grids. More than 50 institutions from 40 countries have collaborated to reach these goals.
Secondly, Spain and Portugal are developing the Iberian Grid Computing Conference (Ibergrid) from 2007 which is fully integrated on the European Grid Infrastructure, said one of its respresentatives, Isabel Campos. Thanks to Ibergrid both countries work closely to develop and provide services to a whide berth of researchers throughout the grid, such as cloud and high performance computing amenities.
Ibergrid has thousands of computational nodes available, and deploys management tools that enable users to do tasks that would not be possible without it. Nowadays it gives support to a wide range of areas, stretching from astrophysics, materials science, environment risk control, civil protection and emergency response, meteorology, satellite remote detection, seismology and biomedical research. This grid has meant a qualitative leap in the infrastructure required for collective use of computational resources that are geographically distributed. And last but not least, Donatella Castelli talked about iMarine, a virtual lab focused on the world underwater.
In respect to the support for providing e-services, Christos Arvanitidis explained the capabilities of the Virtual Biodiversity Research and Access Network for Taxonomy (ViBrant), a project completed in late 2013 that aided the development of 13 different products to create a virtual environment where biodiversity researchers can collaborate.
A total of 17 institutions worked together to build this network of ICT systems, with tools and services designed to fit the scientific community's needs, such as the possibility of creating a website to import, structure and publish biodiversity data. It provides a virtual research environment named Scratchpads where users can safely store, share and manage their research information and analytical services.
Furthermore, the professor at Cardiff University, Alex Hardisty, introduced BioVEL, a virtual laboratory that offers the possibility to use different computerized series' of data analysis to process information for a wide range of analytical purposes. Each researcher can choose his mixture to create a personalized workflow or use those that are available on the site using a management system.
This facility, that has been developed by a consortium of 15 partners from nine countries, offers data refinement to integrate and clean sets from different sources, and different processing techniques for statistics, modelling information or making simulations that can be used to create a single research analysis. The website proposes best practices and offers workflows.
In addition, Rosa Badía, the European coordinator of EU-Brazil OpenBio-Open Data and Cloud Computing e-Infrastructure for Biodiversity, described the work developed over the three years that this project has lasted. She expained how Brazilian and European researchers had joined forces to improve the interoperability of their databases. Further to this, they have used existing tools and also they have developed others to build new web services.
As a result, there is a new version of the Catalogue of Life cross-mapping tool; the provision, as a service, of the Ecological Niche Modelling tool (a process of predicting species distributions via computer algorithms); and a web-based working environment. The latter aggregates biodiversity data and service providers with an array of existing technologies with the objective of reducing the time and costs needed to set up workflows. Moreover, the EUBrazilOpenBio described a Joint Action Plan for future work between both sides of the Atlantic based on this recent and successful cooperation.
Finally, the researcher Francisco Bonet from Rediam presented the approach followed by its organization to bridge the gap between local and global approaches to provide e-Services to communities.