Short report from the RDA Fourth Plenary Meeting

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The Fourth Plenary Meeting of RDA took place between 22 – 24 of September 2014 at Amsterdam, The Netherlands, while on the 21st and between 24-26 September a number of related, co-located events also took place. I had the opportunity not only to attend the plenary meeting and satellite events but also to participate in the agINFRA WP leaders meeting, which took place on the 25th of September. You can find the program of the plenary meeting here.

As expected, my participation was focused on the two groups of agricultural interest: the Agricultural Data Interoperability Interest Group & the Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group. The session dedicated to the former was chaired by Devika Mandali (ISI) and Imma Subirats (FAO) and attended by a number of agINFRA project partners; in this direction the related work of agINFRA was presented as a contribution to the group. An important outcomes was that discussions with key persons from the Biodiversity Data Integration Interest Group highlighted the need for a better collaboration between the two groups as both of them are working on agri- and biodiversity domains. In addition, there was an interesting presentation of the Global Agricultural Concept System (GACS) by Caterina Caracciolo (FAO), a global concept scheme for the agricultural sector, based on the harmonization of the existing large vocabularies, namely FAO AGROVOCCABI Thesaurus and NAL Thesaurus. The agINFRA partners from AII-CAAS in China, Prof. Xuefu and Dr. Guojan Xiang, were also present to present their work on the germplasm linked data. I was very happy to see Guojan after the time he spent visiting Agro-Know.
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Guojan presenting the AII-CAAS work in agINFRA project

The session dedicated to the latter was chaired by Esther Dzale (INRA) and Richard Fulss (CIMMYT) and focused on the presentation of the outcomes of the survey for the identification of data management requirements of the wheat researchers. There was also a discussion about the Workshop on Wheat Data Standards & Interoperability titled “Bringing together the building-blocks of a common framework” which would take place a few days after the meeting and would provide an additional opportunity for wheat researchers to work collaboratively towards the harmonization of existing data standards used by the wheat research community.
With the RDA being a main international event, it was attended by a lot of people coming not only from the EU but also USA, Australia, Asia, Japan. Actually, I was very pleased to follow sessions chaired by or presented by known people in the data community and especially Andrew Treollar (@atreloar) and Ross Wilkinson, who I had the chance to first meet during my trip to Australia last year.
During the same days a number of “satelites” events took place (EUDAT, EGI, ORCID) and I tried to participate in as many as possible, even though some were in the other side of the town. I won’t go into the details of these events, but I will say few words for the EGI workshop. Unfortunately the main workshop was collocated with the agINFRA WP leaders meeting but during the afternoon I had the chance to participate in the last two sessions, including the most important for us, the “Access to and Use of EGI by SMEs”, where the discussion focused on the work of Business Engagement Virtual Team that AK participates and it was a preparation discussion for the EC workshop on SMEs using data infrastructure where both EGI and AK were asked to participate. I am very happy that our involvement in these discussion is actually bringing something back to the community and is always a pleasure to meet and discuss with the EGI people.
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My badge collection from the RDA and the satellite events

As for the next RDA, the 5th RDA Plenary Meeting will take place between March 9-11, 2015 at San Diego, USA. More information will be available in the next months. This will be a really important meeting, as ideas discussed during the 4th plenary (e.g. the establishment of an RDA Foundation in the form of a non-profit legal organization or association) could be materialized in the meantime.

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