The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) EarthCube.org is an ambitious integration and interoperability set of services. It brings together sociotechnical solutions for thousands of GeoScientists to share data assets – data, software components, facilities, more. The NSF for Geosciences and the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) sought transformative concepts and approaches to building cyberinfrastructure for geosciences. They jointly initiated and supported the EarthCube program. The goal was to create a community-driven digital research environment. The environment would include new capabilities for sharing data and knowledge by and beyond the geosciences. Also, catalyze scientific breakthroughs and accelerate new discoveries in ways previously unimagined. Consequently, this helps address the challenges of understanding and predicting a complex and evolving Earth system.
EarthCube’s ambitions is to increase awareness and sharing of assets by aggregate asset metadata and making more findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR data principles) across hundreds of thousands scientific datasets and services.
The NSF evaluated many models – catalogs, cloud access, R&D workbench, and community models, and sought Xentity to assist in using our data program business transformation methods to help Governance establish an operating concept and implementation plan. Xentity provided architecture, advisory and data planning assistance services to the EarthCube Science Support office.
Problem and Solution
Since early 2016, major efforts have focused on the design, planning, and implementation of an architecture. An architecture that comprises core concepts identified as essential for interconnecting cross-disciplinary resources. This includes data, software, institutions, people, and publications to facilitate scientific discovery. This is done while making these resources accessible and usable in a stable and sustainable way. Furthermore, allowing growth and adaptation to evolving needs of the science endeavors and to changes in the technological landscape.
Two comprehensive technical documents, the Architecture Implementation Plan (AIP) and the Architecture Products and Services (APS) documents were created in collaboration with ESSO facilitated and consulting led by Xentity to design and realization of a robust, distributed system for cross-disciplinary scientific research in the geosciences, forming an abstract foundation to the organization and design of the EC architecture. Following a review of these documents by the Technology & Architecture Committee and the CDF, the EarthCube Leadership Council drafted an EarthCube Action Plan (EAP) to address near and long term goals and develop mechanisms for a continued and sustained architecture implementation, assessment processes, and improved community engagement.
Outcome and Benefit
Xentity’s efforts helped in the development of the two technical work products. Both helped in the design and realization of scientific research in geosciences. Consequently helping the NSF in its mission regarding the practice of geosciences. NSF’s vision for EarthCube.org continues to evolve with many aspects of the work products moving forward and others backlogged as the organization matures.