The earth and environmental sciences have become especially data-intensive. As researchers rely on highly calibrated and technologically sophisticated sensors rather than observations to collect data, discovering, integrating and analyzing massive amounts of heterogeneous information become critical to researchers' ability to address complex questions about the environment and the role of human beings in it.
On March 29, 2012, President Barack Obama launched the Big Data Initiative, a coordinated effort by the U.S. government to address the challenges and seize the opportunities afforded by Big Data. At the launch event, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Subra Suresh outlined efforts to build on NSF's legacy in supporting the fundamental science and underlying infrastructure enabling the Big Data revolution. The focus was on the need for tools and mechanisms needed to compile, organize, assimilate, store and extract findings from Big Data.
Today, DataONE, a community-driven organization supported by NSF's DataNet program, is answering the call.
DataONE, the Data Observation Network for Earth, today released technology capable of providing researchers access to globally distributed, networked data from a single point of access. DataONE is making significant strides to enable scientists around the world to easily discover data wherever the data reside and to make their own data available for innovations over the long term. Through this network, a single search interface queries data centers distributed globally. Widespread access to data will enable researchers to more comprehensively tackle some of society's grand-challenge environmental questions relating to climate, resource depletion and sustainability.
"DataONE is advancing the vision for Big Data-centered science," said NSF program director Bob Chadduck in NSF's Office of Cyberinfrastructure. "It is also taking the lead in providing the practical tools the community needs and wants for innovation in this exciting era."
DataONE, led by principal investigator Bill Michener from the University of New Mexico, is composed of experts from the library, computer, and environmental sciences communities. With nodes at the University of New Mexico, University of California Santa Barbara, and University of Tennessee, DataONE represents a collaboration of universities and government agencies coalesced to address the mounting need for organizing and serving up vast amounts of highly diverse and interrelated but often heterogeneous scientific data.
DataONE enables universal access to data and also facilitates researchers in fulfilling their need for data management and in providing secure and permanent access to their data. These needs are filled by offering the scientific community a suite of tools and training materials that cover all aspects of the data life cycle--from data collection to management, analysis and publication.
More details are available in the DataONE news release.