Category Archives: South Africa

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.

Reliable ICT Infrastructure a condition for research data sharing – African NRENs to play an important role

Whether it will be called a guideline, a roadmap or a framework – all participants during the AOSP ICT Infrastructure meeting held on 14 May 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa were in agreement that a document guiding African countries in preparing ICT infrastructures in support of research data sharing, will be of benefit to all. The one day meeting brought together key stakeholders. African regional NRENs (National Research Education Networks) attendees included Dr Pascal Hoba (Chief Executive Officer, UbuntuNet Alliance), Dr Ousmane Moussa Tessa (Chief Executive Officer, NigerREN  & member of the WACREN Board, on behalf of Dr Boubakar Barry (Executive Director, WACREN), Dr Yousef Torman (Managing Director, ASREN) and Dr Leon Staphorst (Executive Director, SANRen).

The objective of this meeting was to help NRENs better understand the needs experienced by collaborative data intensive research projects, and for NRENs to consider future service delivery in support of research data. The three projects represented included H3ABioNet (Prof Nicky Mulder, Head: Computational Biology, UCT & Lead: H3ABioNet), GBIF (Dr Mélianie Raymond, Senior Programme Officer for Node Development, GBIF Secretariat) and Dr Jasper Horrell (representing the Square Kilometre Array Organisation, SA).

The GBIF Integrated Publishing Toolkit (IPT) is a free open source software tool used to publish and share biodiversity datasets through the GBIF network. The IPT can also be configured with either a DataCite or EZID account in order to assign DOIs to datasets transforming it into a data repository. Dr Raymond during her presentation indicated that more portals, laptops/workstations and IPT installations for selected nodes are required to enhance the sharing and visibility of biodiversity data. Capacity building needs include training of researchers, students, lecturers and more in digitization, data cleaning, data publishing, and data analysis, towards more relevant and sustainable data use in support of decision making concerning biodiversity conservation.

H3ABioNet provides support for the H3Africa Human, Heredity & Health in Africa Consortium, which focuses on the study of genomics and environmental determinants of common diseases, with the goal of improving the health of African populations. Prof Mulder shared the limitations that apply when sharing human data, and the importance of protecting the rights and privacy of human subjects when participating in research studies. The project follows a well-established workflow using open source software tools, at the same time having policies built into the various stages of working with the data. As with biodiversity, skills need to be constantly developed, and infrastructure needs to be maintained and upgraded. A challenge faced by funded projects is that collected data needs to be curated when projects come to an end, and it is for governments to discuss as to whether data is regarded as a national asset, and who will fund the long-term curation of the data.

According to Dr Jasper Horrell from the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDiA), key science on the SKA will be achieved by large-scale survey programs executed by globally distributed teams of researchers and through creating massive data. A cloud computing system that utilizes the OpenStack Infrastructure as a Service framework has been established by IDiA.  OpenStack is a cloud operating system that controls large pools of compute, storage, and networking resources throughout a datacenter, all managed through a dashboard that gives administrators control while empowering their users to provision resources through a web interface. This ideal for the large amounts of data that is expected to be collected through the telescopes.

Regional NRENs represented indicated that they are in full support of working with AOSP on developing and populating a framework as part of service delivery to their research communities, and to also invite national NRENs in their respective regions to explore opportunities. Important elements to be included in such a document have been identified, and the group will continue as a working group, building on what is already in place through the SADC Cyberinfrastructure Framework, of which an overview was provided by Prof Colin Wright. This framework was approved by SADC ministers in June 2016, and the next step would be to revisit the existing framework and to adapt – where needed – for the whole of Africa, with input from key stakeholders across Africa. It was also clear that – through possible partnerships and lessons learned from KENET, IlifuDIRISA, Sci-GaIA and more, the design, development and implementation of ICT infrastructures in support of data sharing and curation can become a reality – sooner rather than later.

The AOSP ICT Infrastructure Framework will be tested during various stages and across different domains, before it will be finalized to be shared with African countries interested in advancing the sharing and responsible management of data.

Also view the following presentations:

The African Open Science Platform/Susan Veldsman

Framework and Roadmap towards an Open Science Infrastructure/Simon Hodson

Introduction to GBIF for the African Open Science Platform/Mélianie Raymond

Research Infrastructures H3ABioNet Case Study/Nicky Mulder

Data Infrastructure Development for the SKA/Jasper Horrell

Reflections on the SADC Infrastructure Framework/Colin Wright

Invitation to NeDICC Workshop on Digital Scholarship – 4 April 2018, 09:00-12:30

On behalf of NeDICC (South Africa):

It is our pleasure to invite you to a NeDICC Workshop on ‘Digital Scholarship – Don’t get left behind’ on 4 April 2018. The workshop will be presented by Mr Isak van der Walt, Senior IT Consultant and MakerSpace manager, University of Pretoria.

Your work, private life, business, transport, literally everything is affected by digital technologies, and the way we do research is not any different. The rate and pace at which technology changes scholarly discovery and output is alarming, so are you as individual or organisation ready for this change?
This workshop aims to clarify, classify and scope digital scholarship activities for your institution. You should be able to leave the session with a better understanding on how to approach digital scholarship and what processes you could follow to enable this ever-growing field.

The workshop will be held at the CSIR Knowledge Commons (Pretoria), in the Sedibeng venue from 09:00 to 12:30.
Cost: Free
Please RSVP before by 12H00 on Tuesday 3 April 2018, to Fatima Darries at darrif@unisa.ac.za