VREs/Virtual Labs/Science Gateways: Visions for addressing barriers, needs and requirements for the next generation of VREs

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26 Jan 2021
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

VREs are excellent environments to collaborate on research topics, to share data, methods and knowledge in projects at one affiliation as well as across national and continental boundaries. Quite a few mature solutions have evolved over the last 15 years and the usability of existing solutions has increased majorly. Despite the agile, fast-evolving landscape of software packages and libraries, users still experience barriers to use data and research infrastructures efficiently. The objective of this meeting is to work towards topics for working groups analyzing needs and requirements for VREs and building a vision for next-gen VREs.

Meeting agenda: 

Collaborative meeting notes (main session): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U5F6HHf1Gh-jOMDXjd9KnkAmRZuDhe-lfy7k-6N36Vc/edit?usp=sharing

Collaborative meeting notes (repeat session): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1U8-xp3UEHL7f53Wv8Xqzr8TFI-MTYixOUsa7mH9eBa8/edit?usp=sharing

Agenda for the meeting will be:

0-5 mins: Introduction to the IG (Sandra Gesing) 

Sandra's slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1i68eYGey27VCyPnMoaYoB9m7bP0iR2TV/edit#slide=id.p1


5-50 mins:  Examples for Needs and Requirements for VREs (Moderator: Sandra Gesing, Panelists: Maytal Dahan, Mark Potkewitz, Alison Specht, Andrew Treloar)


Maytal's slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1RFa3OdPaqAANyMKCPZVt2OI6UzuXJ4if/edit#slide=id.p1

Andrew's slides: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1M4rQ1hRUqV6YE86T4GVmcoKJC6vSQipeEO6sZ3rM-e0/edit#slide=id.p2

Recording to Mark's talk:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFp5jSLMXZs&ab_channel=MarkPotkewitz%2CEsq.

  • Technical requirements for different frameworks/VREs under consideration of dashboards, notebooks and containers, e.g., aspects such as security, connectivity

  • Community requirements considering different roles in a VRE from researchers to stakeholders

  • Policy requirements considering rules and laws on research infrastructures, e.g. laws for health data

  • What will I as a researcher need to do high quality research efficiently 10 to 15 years from now?
  • What will society need to trust in and engage with research, contributing to and benefiting from it 10 to 15 years from now?
  • If you could have access to all the data you are interested in as well as the means to analyze them which questions would you look at: What kind of data, analysis and data comparisons would be possible and which technologies would we need for that?

Discussion: What are additional aspects that are not considered? 

  • Lab of the Future
    • The world as a laboratory: What will be the effect of fully connected societies evolving into massive scale interdisciplinary research laboratories?
    • Which tools and services will the lab of the future be equipped with to allow researchers both in academia and industry to efficiently do cutting-edge research while safeguarding the test subjects in the lab?
    • What will the citizens’ role be in these new labs?
    • What will the ”lab of the future” look like? Where will its “boundaries” be?

50-65 mins: What are the challenges near-term (in the next 5 years) for VREs? (Group Discussion) 

Questions are: Which challenges can be solved via technology? Which challenges are community-oriented? What would be a good way to address challenges posed by policy makers? What works well and what does not work well and create barriers? 

65-90 mins: Preparing for building working groups for a vision addressing the next 10 years (Structured Discussion led by Andreas Rauber)

  • Collecting topics to inform a vision such as needs, requirements and emerging technologies

  • Which format of meetings?

  • Whom to invite for brainstorming?

  • One topic envisioned is a working group on writing a "Dear colleague" letter/white paper addressed to funding bodies for requirements to make a vision for 10 years happen. The goal would be to invite to the next plenary funding agencies to discuss roadmaps during the session at the plenary with the white paper as basis.

Target Audience: 

This session is aimed at anyone who is or has been involved in using, developing or maintaining any form of online collaborative environment or their individual components.

In preparation for this meeting, attendees could refer to the notes from the previous sessions from past RDA Plenary meetings that focused more on understanding the commonalities and differences of the different VRE/SG/VL platforms from the different global regions and collaboration tools. Attendees could think about the challenges they face using and/or developing VREs. They could share visions, needs and requirements from their experience.

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

VREs are synonymous with Science Gateways (SGs) in the USA and Virtual Laboratories (VLs) in Australia, and are increasingly being used to support a more dynamic approach to collaborative working across the internet. The VRE-IG will explore all aspects of existing and planned future VRE/SG/VLs with the aim of moving towards common policies and best practices, such as those now being promoted by the European EOSC, the US XSEDE and the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC). 

The VRE IG acts as a longer-term organization responsible for tracking and contributing to the evolution of VRE/SG/VL technologies, particularly as they relate to data access. It will also seek to engage with those seeking to make use of these online technologies in an effort to identify the necessary technical aspects, social and community building practices, required skills, as well as governance issues and best practice required to support a more coordinated approach to the development of the collaborative environments that enable data sharing and in situ online processing.

At this meeting we focus on aspects for building working groups and approaches for collecting visions, needs and requirements for VREs.

Short Group Status: 

The group is established and has existed for five years. The VRE IG aims to act as a longer-term organization responsible for tracking and contributing to the evolution of VRE/SG/VL technologies, particularly as they relate to data access. Since the 14th Plenary we have added additional meetings between the RDA plenaries and we plan to form working groups on specific topics discussed during the plenaries. This IG will function as umbrella group for such working groups.

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Meeting presenters: 
Andreas Rauber, Kheeran Dharmawardena, Zhiming Zhao, Andrew Reloar, Maytal Dahan, Sandra Gesing