On the 2nd of September 2014, it was the first major deadline of the European Research Infrastructures of the H2020. Following up on the previous and current work of Agro-Know in data infrastructures, we participated in a number of different project proposals, trying to exploit the different activities to continue on building infrastructure services for the agricultural community, partnering with major research organisations like the EGI, APARSEN and ATHENA R.C. Some of these proposals are EGI-ENGAGE, DPInfra and OpenMinTed – we hope that we’ll soon be able to present them in more details.
But why communities as the agricultural, the food safety or the biodiversity are interested in such projects and what do they have to earn?
Simply putting it, because we live a data-driven world and using / computing data is part of daily work. Over the past years we have moved on a world where data are collected and calculated all the time, from making financial prognosis, to how many calories I have to eat today.
While we all have now this little
devils computers with their high computing power can make all these calculations, still what you do when we are talking about big data, raw data that comes from tens/hundreds/thousands of sensors in a field or high resolution images from satellites retaken every few minutes. This is when high computing power and cloud storage really come into play. Having them not only stored in (some form of) the cloud, but also opening and offering them for everyone to use, can lead to new discoveries.
Someone can easily ask, aren’t Dropbox, Google, Amazon,… offering this storage or services??
The answer is yes and no. These type of services as great for storing personal items, documents or photos, or running some simple tasks on your music, but even for that they usually come at a price. When talking about researchers and research data, the need to access this type of infrastructure for free and have the safety that the data will be preserved over the time is of high importance.
So if we have this infrastructure then why keep investing in it?
This is where everything starts to unroll. The answer is because we constantly need more and more services that will run on the grid, services that will enhance the researchers tools. Think of how great it could be if for example a researcher searching for a PDF could not only search title and abstract but the whole documents as well (using text mining techniques). Think how such a service could change the way the researcher work and then how he can re-apply it to other sectors of his work. Let’s grow it a little bit more, forget the pdf and think of images, genetic data, sensor data, or whatever else and types of new services we could built (a little bit of science fiction is required).
And where does the community part get involved?
The problem is that while generic solutions are great, they don’t always cover the specific needs of a community. In the above example, it is very different searching an agricultural document than a document on classic philosophy.
Putting all together:
- we have the infrastructure – which we need constantly to improve;
- we have services running on the infrastructure – which we need to keep increase;
- we have the users that uses the services running on the infrastructure – who actually have the needs
So why is Agro-Know interested in this?
We are a company that takes advantage of the whole data chain. We are collaborating in projects around data infrastructures to improve the end services we offer to our stakeholders. With our unique expertise and by combining people from the ICT sector, the agricultural domain, food safety experts and off course business management and the administration team, we create an environment to cultivate solutions tailored for the agro-food community.