Category Archives: South Africa

Advocating for Open Science during the DST/ASSAf Roadshow towards the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

The 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting gives 500 to 600 outstanding young scientists the opportunity to discuss key questions in physics with 30 Nobel laureates. In 2019, the focus will be on cosmology, particle physics and quantum technology. Young scientists across Africa are encouraged to source funding and to also apply to attend this prestigious meeting.

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DST), will be seeking and supporting South African candidates to participate in the 2019 Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting to be held from 30 June to 5 July 2019 in Lindau, Germany.

The 69th Meeting of Nobel Laureates will be dedicated to Physics. The meeting will be attended by Nobel Laureates in Physics and about 600 highly-talented young scientists from across the world.

As part of a Roadshow to create awareness, and to encourage young scientists to apply, AOSP participated and presented key notes on Open Science during the various interactions with the universities, creating more awareness of Open Science locally. The events were financially sponsored by the ASSAf International and National Liaison Office. Inquiries can be directed to Ms Edith Shikumo at edith@assaf.org.za

Deployment of Open Data Driven Solutions for Socio-Economic Value through Good Governance and Efficient Public Service Delivery, 30 August 2018

AOSP presentation during the third seminar in the Innovation for Inclusive Development (IID) series. The seminars are hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The information collected and the recommendations made will be used to inform and influence government policy via the DST.

OPEN DATA FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC VALUE: ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION

Presented by Ina Smith, African Open Science Platform
The African Open Science Platform project aims to understand policies related to open science and open data on the continent. The project also considers infrastructure, capacity building and incentives. Research data inform government policies and decisions, and government data inform research. Access to quality data is increasingly important. Without data, one is just another person with an opinion.

Governments use taxpayers’ money and therefore need to build transparency, accountability and trust, much of which can be achieved through the correct management of open data. An example of this was the follow-up to the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Foreign national health and aid workers came to Africa and collected much data on the outbreak, which they took home with them when they left. Only after the outbreak was under control was there a call for good open data from researchers for use in possible future outbreaks. Collecting data is expensive, so re-using data and building on existing data is essential. Another example was the case of the high incidence of species substitution and mislabelling detected in meat products sold in South Africa. Unfortunately the complete research results were not made available to the public. Citizens have the right to see this type of data in order to make their own informed decisions.

Open data will streamline the dissemination of information, including the sharing of information between government departments. Open access will help democratise the country through the provision of equal access to all, and will provide information for better decision-making by policy-makers. Access to open data enables the targeting of resources, but deep understanding of how to curate valuable data resources is essential. To maximise the usefulness of data, it is essential that it is well curated, as open as possible, and as closed as necessary.

In order to address global challenges, international collaboration and the sharing of government data is very important. Unfortunately South Africa is lagging in this regard. The documents on the South Africa National Data Portal were uploaded in 2015 and nothing has been added since then. The Open Data Institute publishes some government information in their report Supporting sustainable development with open data, and also shows many examples of how data can help countries address socio-economic challenges.

Delegates were encouraged to attend International Data Week in Gaborone, Botswana from 5–8 November 2018. Information on the event is available at www.scidatacon.org/IDW2018/.

Release of SA Draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation – 10 Sept. 2018

Science, technology and innovation enabling sustainable and inclusive development in a changing world
https://www.dst.gov.za/index.php/media-room/latest-news/2621-new-draft-white-paper-on-science-technology-and-innovation

Also see the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (Please share news on adoption of strategies within your countries with AOSP)

Full paper available at https://www.dst.gov.za/images/2018/Draft-White-paper–on-STI-7_09.pdf 

Twenty years after the adoption of the first White Paper on Science and Technology (DST) in 1996, the SA Department of Science and Technology began developing a new draft White Paper on Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), which was approved by Cabinet last week. The new document will ensure a growing role for STI in building a more prosperous and inclusive society.  It focuses on using STI to accelerate inclusive economic growth, make the economy more competitive and improve people’s everyday lives.

The white paper says the following about Open Science and Open Innovation (pages 44-45):

“The OECD estimates that 30% of innovation in Europe is open in the sense of being shared. For example, the Philips Research Campus in Eindhoven invites industry participation with a view to facilitating collaboration between publicly funded and privately funded research. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation malaria project is also using data from a number of resources, because open innovation means that the disease can be addressed more quickly. It must be remembered, however, that open innovation does not mean “free”. Patents and intellectual property rights still apply, but only at the end of the innovation process.

The DST is actively examining the transition to open science and open innovation. This will call for appropriate regulatory frameworks and data skills development, as discussed below.

Incentives for open science will be fostered through education programmes and career development programmes for researchers. A focus on citizen science will also be introduced. Barriers to open science will be evaluated and where necessary removed, ensuring that legislation and practice support, rather than thwart, the principles of open and collaborative science. Government will therefore review these, taking into account certain aspects of intellectual property rights from publicly funded research and accepting that open science, open innovation and intellectual property, and the associated rights, are not mutually exclusive. Government will also review the policies and institutions governing access to research data and research publications.

As a general principle, publicly funded research and research data may, after a careful analysis, be made available (with some exceptions including data that can compromise sovereign security and which is of a confidential nature). Government will encourage researchers to deposit data arising from research in publicly accessible repositories, and to support open journal publishing and data sharing, providing access to data and other research outputs arising from publicly funded research. In this manner, research will be made more transparent, rigorous and efficient in stimulating innovation and promoting public engagement.

South Africa does not have formal protection for databases. Government will identify a licence system for depositing data and for the use of open data. What is in the public domain, what is not, or when it becomes available are pressing issues that need to be dealt with. Ensuring the needs and wants of the data provider are respected, and determining who can use the data, and under what conditions (research use, teaching and commercial use) are also important considerations. The Creative Commons licence is a good example for starting to draft specific licence types for different types of open data.

Contemporary open science and open innovation requires data to be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) in the long-term, and these objectives are rapidly becoming expectations of funding agencies and publishers. The current Intellectual Property Rights from Publicly Funded Research and Development Act will be reconsidered to ensure that it supports the FAIR guiding principles for scientific data management and storage.

National data storage is a further matter that needs to be addressed. The DST will develop a long-term sustainable business model for a South African research data cloud. Institutional data repositories will be encouraged. More support is also needed for the harmonisation of repositories, which can take place through the Data Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA).

The DST, in consultation with Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and DHET, will produce a national open science (and data) framework consisting of principles and guidelines for the adoption of open science in South Africa. The framework will be used as a vehicle for awareness raising and training on good practice.

The DST will work with the higher education sector and the relevant government departments to ensure data related skills development for making efficient use of new scientific datasets, tools and methods.

Digital technologies are making the conduct of science and innovation more collaborative, international and open to citizens. In the next decade, as connectivity becomes ubiquitous, the shift to more distributed, networked and open organisational models will become commonplace. Those unable to make the change will be left behind.23• 24 Therefore, government will prioritise funding for the provision of digital resources to the communities and institutions that need them the most.

As part of its commitment to African STI cooperation, South Africa will also work to advance the open science agenda elsewhere on the continent and within regional frameworks. The strategic role of the African Open Science Platform, hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa, which promotes African-wide development and coordination of data policies, data training and data infrastructure, will be leveraged with the support of the DST and the National Research Foundation (NRF). In addition, South Africa is one of the founding members of the global Open Government Partnership, and took over the chair in 2015. As one of the signatories of this partnership, South Africa is committed to developing an open data policy framework and action plan.”

Socio-Economic Value of Open Data discussed during SA DST Innovation for Inclusive Development Seminar on 30 August 2018

The SA Dept. of Science and Technology presented a valuable seminar on government data on 30 August 2018, as part of the series of Innovation for Inclusive Development Seminars. AOSP was also invited to participate in a panel discussion. The brief presentation is available here, and was one of three presented during the panel discussion.

Theme:  “Deployment of Open Data Driven Solutions for Socio-Economic Value through Good Governance and Efficient Public Service Delivery”

The following might be of interest to you:

Open Data in Developing Economies: Toward Building an Evidence Base on What Works and How
http://www.africanminds.co.za/dd-product/open-data-in-developing-economies-toward-building-an-evidence-base-on-what-works-and-how/

Embedding open data practice: Developing indicators on the institutionalization of open data practice in two African governments
https://open.uct.ac.za/handle/11427/13810

Supporting sustainable development with data
https://www.issuelab.org/resources/22720/22720.pdf

EU The economic benefits of data
https://www.europeandataportal.eu/en/highlights/economic-benefits-open-data

Open Data to Support the Sustainable Development Goals
https://opendatawatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/UNSC2017-OpenDataSupportsSDGs.pdf

 

Northern Cape Primed for Astrotourism Boom after Meerkat Launch

Apart from generating Big Data, the SKA project is also expected to give tourism a massive boost, benefitting the economy, and many more.

http://ewn.co.za/2018/07/16/nc-primed-for-astrotourism-boom-after-meerkat-launch

Kareeberg Municipality Mayor, Norman Van Wyk, says that R3 million has been spent on catering and a further R4 million on transport in the area since construction began in 2012.

One hundred and seven locals have been employed by the South African Astronomical Observatory between 2015 and 2017.

The Northern Cape Tourism Authority’s Dianna Martin, says plans are afoot to stimulate tourism activities along the broader Karoo Highlands Route.

“We have developed five routes in the Northern Cape to develop tourism into the area. People are coming and they are exposed to all the small villages of Williston, of Nieuwoudtville, Calvinia and then of course Carnarvon and Loxton and even to Victoria West and Fraserburg…”

She says that a new visitor information centre in town will allow tourists passing through to gain some insight into the SKA project and the surrounding communities.

WATCH: MeerKAT radio telescopes unveiled

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=14&v=oWb5VQov_us

SA celebrates MeerKAT launch with dramatic Milky Way black hole image

https://www.news24.com/Green/News/sa-celebrates-meerkat-launch-with-dramatic-milky-way-black-hole-image-20180713

“The MeerKAT image has such clarity. It shows so many features never before seen, including compact sources associated with some of the filaments, that it could provide the key to cracking the code and solve this three-decade riddle,” said Farhad Yusef-Zadeh of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, one of the world’s leading experts on the mysterious filamentary structures present near the central black hole but nowhere else in the Milky Way.The MeerKAT is also likely to attract international astronomers because the instrument offers a view of the sky not available in the northern hemisphere.The total cost for the MeerKAT instrument is R4.4bn, including the development of the testbed platforms and bidding for the SKA, said Esterhuyse.”

Winner of the 2017/2018 NSTF-South32 Data Award

Awards do not only acknowledge success; they also recognize many other qualities, such as ability, struggle, effort, internal motivation, but above all – excellence. On behalf of the African Open Science Platform, we wish to congratulate the winner of the 2017/2018 NSTF-South32 Data Award:

SASAS (South African Social Attitudes Survey)

Read media article at https://mg.co.za/article/2018-06-29-00-raising-the-public-voice

“SASAS is a series of surveys that has been conducted annually by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) since 2003. It is a nationally representative survey series that measures the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours of South Africa’s diverse population and shares these with policy and decision makers, as well as with the informed public. As such, SASAS shines a light on the public landscape and reveals the strands that make up the country’s social fabric.

“In 2002, we decided to create a new survey that drew on international standards and practices relating to the measurement of public opinion,” explains Benjamin Roberts, the co-ordinator of SASAS and a research specialist in the democracy, governance and service delivery research programme of the HSRC.

“We had wide-ranging consultations with local scholars and international experts to create SASAS – particularly with the designers of the British Social Attitudes Survey and the European Social Survey.” “

About the Data Award 

The NSTF under the guidance of a team of experts continues this category introduced last  year, which  is meant to encompass the work of an individual or a team (including for example researchers/scientists, data scientists, data stewards) to be rewarded for the generation, preservation and sharing of a valuable scientific resource in the form of a data set/ or data collection process for a data set, that is of national interest or for the public good, and that is openly available to be re-used and / or re-packaged in products that are of public good and interest, or that could be integrated into products that contribute to the development of South Africa.

Read more at http://www.nstf.org.za/awards/

 

Research Data Management Course presented by UCT (starting 21 Sept 2018)

The Library and Information Studies Centre at the University of Cape Town, South Africa offers a master’s level course in Research Data Management (Course Code LIS5029S) that is ideal for persons and/or organisations seeking continuing professional development in this new skills areas:

Lifecycle Models | Data Management Planning | Policy Analysis & Development | Challenges to Data Curation

The full fee schedule with the official amounts is in the Fees Handbook available here: http://www.students.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/434/study/handbooks/2018/2018_Fees_Booklet_FINAL14052018.pdf

Duration

6 weeks, starting 21 September 2018. Closing date for application: 20 July 2018.

Entry requirements: NQF level 8 (SA Honours or equivalent). Blended online/contact format ideal for students based outside of Cape Town. The course equals 24 credits.

The bulk of the lectures are online, but there are two contact days when students are required to be on campus in Cape Town (8 and 9 October 2018).

Apply by 20 July 2018

To apply, visit http://applyonline.uct.ac.za (On application, apply for Occasional Postgraduate Studies: Level of Qualification: Postgrad Non-Degree; Faculty: Humanities) 

Inquiries

Library and Information Studies Centre, University of Cape Town email: lisc@uct.ac.za or tel.: +27 (0)21 650 4546.

Course Convener: Michelle Kahn Email: michelle.kahn@uct.ac.za

Costs

The course fee for the Research Data Management course (LIS5029S) for 2018 is ZAR8 930-00 (excluding application fees and any other fees that apply such as international student fees). The full fee schedule with the official amounts is in the Fees Handbook available here: http://www.students.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/434/study/handbooks/2018/2018_Fees_Booklet_FINAL14052018.pdf

Brief feedback on the SA-EU Open Science Workshop, 15-16 May 2018, Pretoria, SA

Similar to many other African countries, the South African Dept. of Science and Technology (DST) has – in partnership with the European Union (EU) – started a dialogue on an Open Science policy framework for the country. Open Science is no longer an option since major world economies and industries are adopting this approach to advance innovation (Open Innovation), to tackle global challenges as defined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The first of the meetings took place on 12-13 December 2016, followed by a workshop on 30 Nov – 1 Dec 2017. An expert task team was assigned and compiled an interim report following input from all relevant stakeholders, to further direct the process and the drafting of a framework, supported by the DST steering committee. The report set the global and specifically South African context, demonstrating coherence between global aspirations and the South African National Development Plan 2013. Topic areas covering the major issues concerning Open Science were identified, incl. Open Data, Open Science and Open Innovation, Governance and Regulations, Skills and Training, Infrastructure, Funding, Metrics and Incentives, Citizen Science, Intellectual Property Rights, and Implications for Africa and the SADC.

The above topics were further unpacked during a second workshop on 15-16 May 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa. Responsibilities, key stakeholders, funding requirements, the level of priority for each of the topics, and more, were discussed.

Dr J-C Burgelman, Head of the Unit Open Data and Science Cloud Policy, European Commission (EC) delivered a virtual presentation on Open Science and FP9, and progress made in terms of the European Open Science Policy. The 8 policy priorities identified by the EC include Open Data, Science Cloud, Altmetrics, Future of Scholarly Communication, Rewards, Research Integrity, Education and Skills, and Citizen Science. Progress made in terms of the priorities were shared, as well as possible future actions. Two documents were highlighted, which can potentially inform policy-makers elsewhere:

Dr Anwar Vahed explained the role of the CSIR (DST) implemented National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System (NICIS) with the focus on DIRISA. NICIS comprises of the following:

  • Centre for High Performance Computing (CHPC) – focusing on computing services
  • SA Research and Education Network (SANReN) – focusing on network provision and services
  • Data Intensive Research Initiative of SA (DIRISA) – focusing on data management & data storage

Dr Simon Hodson provided an overview of open science development on a global level. He discussed the rationale behind the need for open science and data to be FAIR, and shared examples of developments in donor and journal policies. The SA Open Science policy aligns with the vision of the African Open Science Platform project,  forming part of an international ecosystem driving science and innovation.  View the presentation by Dr Hodson at the following:

Open Science Globally: Some Developments/Dr Simon Hodson

High-performance computing capability, high-speed network capacity and a national research data infrastructure integrated hierarchically into globally connected systems and into local system systems, providing seamless access for the research and education communities, are important services for African governments to consider, to further advance collaborative research projects and the sharing of research data among researchers globally. Representatives from the three regional African NRENs attended this 2-day workshop (Dr Pascal Hoba from UbuntuNet, Dr Ousmane Moussa Tessa – represented Dr Boubakar Barry from WACREN, and Dr Yousef  Torman from ASREN), to also benefit from this workshop, which followed the 1-day AOSP ICT Infrastructure Meeting in Support of Data Sharing, also attended by them.

Through sharing policy interventions and experiences, as well as initiatives such as lessons learned through NICIS, it is expected that a lot of progress can be made by countries across Africa.

The above dialogue is managed and funded by the SA Dept. of Science and Technology.