Role of NRENs in Support of Science
National Research Education Networks (NRENs – especially Level 6) in Africa, are more and more gearing themselves towards offering ICT related services to the research community – also as far as data-intensive research concerns. For data to be FAIR – findable, accessible, interoperable and re-usable – it needs to be curated using trusted platforms. In addition to curation, access to High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters are required to benefit from services offered through the Cloud and recently, also on the Edge. A great deal can be achieved through coordination of resources and investment in shared infrastructure. In 2017 AOSP presented a paper and workshop during the UbuntuNet Connect Conference, inviting NRENs to also explore offering data related services. This was followed by an AOSP meeting between researchers and NRENs on 14 May 2018, Pretoria, South Africa. AOSP has identified stakeholders consisting of representatives from NRENs and researchers to propose a framework for an ICT Infrastructure, towards the sharing of research data, and towards implementing a tangible AOSP during the next phase. The group – under leadership of Prof Benjamin Aribisala – is working on guidelines, guiding both NRENs and governments, to be reviewed by experts during Year 3 (2019) of the AOSP project.
NRENs, Libraries and Institutional Literature Repositories
During the past Libsense Repository Workshop, the UbuntuNet Alliance managed to create a platform for librarians (specifically institutional literature repository managers) to engage with technical NREN staff, to see how they can support and collaborate with one another. It was a great event, and future collaboration looks promising, depending on commitment from both parties. This a first step towards librarians and NRENs collaborating towards extending and advancing institutional literature repositories, towards federation and integration, and towards becoming next generation institutional repositories (COAR). The focus was very much on institutional repositories, but the possibility exists that the repositories can be extended to also address the complexity involved regarding the curation of data sets. Different disciplines apply different metadata standards, and the metadata for data sets is far more complex (also captured as part of Research Data Management Plans, more and more required by funders globally). The curation of data sets also a challenge because of the Variety, Velocity, Volume and more.
NRENs indicated that the following services can potentially be offered to researchers and libraries: hosting of repositories, digital preservation implementing LOCKSS, federated identity management, and more.
From the AOSP landscape study, more than 55 data repositories were identified. Libraries, data scientists and data repository managers are encouraged to work together, and to also register data repositories with re3data.org, towards a comprehensive understanding of what is happening on the continent.
A parallel meeting with VCs from universities across Africa was hosted by UbuntuNet, discussing ways universities and NRENs can strengthen collaboration towards addressing the challenges brought forward by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The presentations from the Libsense workshop are available at https://events.ubuntunet.net/event/19/ Presentations were further guided by the outcomes of the survey at https://www.dropbox.com/s/155fokahpl0tleb/UA%20Interim%20Survey%20Report_Final-20181119.pdf?dl=0, and also the COAR proposal towards New Generation IRs. See https://www.coar-repositories.org/activities/advocacy-leadership/working-group-next-generation-repositories/
DSpace 7 to be released early next year, including next generation tools. https://wiki.duraspace.org/display/DSPACE/DSpace+Release+7.0+Status
Invenio 3 already offers new generation IR tools.