BDVA: Continued Engagement of EGI for Big Data

I attended the BDV PPP Summit in Riga, Latvia on 26-28 June 2019, which focused on driving European innovation in Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to foster cross-sector collaboration and shape strategies for European leadership in the areas.

EGI has a history of engaging BDVA, having been a formal member as of 2015, and officially became a silver level iSpace in November 2018, which are recognised trusted data incubators with a mission to accelerate the uptake of data-driven innovation in commercial and non-profit sectors. Our goal is to obtain gold level status in 2020.

During the Summit, I had the opportunity to present both the EGI Federation as well as the EOSC-hub project and the services and success stories of supporting start-ups and SMEs through the EOSC Digital Innovation Hub (EOSC DIH) that we coordinate. Based on this role and experience, EGI has become one of the lead partners in efforts to set up a dedicated Digital Innovation Hub for Big Data in collaboration with BDVA and other iSpace organisations.

In addition, I attended a hands-on workshop delivered by Sonja Zillner from Siemens, who has iterated on the business model canvas that allows for more strategic focus on business solutions being built with a data-driven focus.

Co-located with the event was the BDVA General Assembly where the EGI Managing Director, Yannick Legré, was re-elected to the Board of Directors as well as will continue his additional role as Treasurer for another two years.

The event provided high visibility for EGI, who has become a well-known entity in the community, leading to invitations to join working groups dedicated to Artificial Intelligence applications, a new area for us.

In fact, EGI has recently been asked to be a sponsor at the next major event, the European Big Data Value Forum (EBDVF) 2019, taking place 14-16 October 2019 in Helsinki, Finland, with a prominent exhibition booth as a Diamond sponsor.

BDVA presents exciting opportunities for EGI and we look forward to the continued onboarding of new partnerships and collaborations.

European HTCondor Workshop 2019

The European HTCondor Workshop 2019 will be held in Italy, form 24 to 27 September, hosted by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in Ispra, Lombardy, Italy.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission’s science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.

The workshop will be the fifth edition in Europe after the successful events at CERN in December 2014ALBA in February 2016DESY in June 2017 and RAL in September 2018.

The workshops are opportunities for novice and experienced users of HTCondor to learn, get help and have exchanges between them and with the HTCondor developers and experts. It is primarily addressed at users from EMEA, but open to everyone. The workshop consists of presentations, tutorials and “office hours” for consultancy. The HTCondor CE (Compute Element) will be covered prominently as well.

Registration is open until 4 September.

See all the details of the event.

Training: Introduction to EGI Notebooks

The EGI Foundation team will deliver a training on the EGI Notebooks service in Yerevan, Armenia, on September 27, co-located with the Eastern Partnership E-Infrastructure Conference.

This tutorial will introduce Jupyter and the open access EGI Notebooks service. The tutorial will go through the main features of the EGI Notebooks and show how to use it with Binder to implement Open Science. Participants will experience the system through hands-on exercises and can continue using these services after the training through the European Open Science Cloud. The tutorial will be relevant for researchers, and for programmers and IT-service providers who support research and education.

More information and how to register.

Upcoming EOSC-hub webinars

EOSC-hub will hold two webinars this July 2019:

The first webinar is entitled  “An EOSC-hub proposal for the EOSC Service Management System” and will be held on 23 July from 11am to 12:30pm. The webinar will introduce participants to the Service Management System developed by EOSC-hub for the European Open Science Cloud,  with a particular focus on the Service Portfolio Management as a key and highly strategic process. The structure of the EOSC service portfolios will be also presented. This management system is based on the FitSM standard for IT Service Management.

Who should attend: technical architects from research infrastructures and projects, current and interested service providers and research infrastructure managers.

More information and registration.

The second webinar is entitled “An EOSC-hub proposal for the EOSC Technical Architecture” and will be held on 24 July from 11am to 12:30pm. This webinar focus on describing the reference technical architecture for the European Open Science Cloud proposed by EOSC-hub. The proposed architecture is based on the concepts of service composability and interoperability.

Who should attend: service providers, users, members of other EOSC implementation projects including EOSC cluster projects, members of EOSC working groups, European and national e-infrastructures, European and national research infrastructures.

More information and registration.

Final ENVRIplus event in Brussels explained the benefits of Research Infrastructures collaboration

Full blog post on the ENVRIplus website

The final ENVRIplus dissemination event organized in Brussels, June 4, 2019, welcomed about 100 attendees. The participants had a chance to listen to talks explaining the role of collaboration amongst the environmental research infrastructures for the benefits of science, society, improved synergies and international collaboration. The talks also explained what are the future activities and needs of the ENVRI community to be able to develop a fully interoperable and harmonized cluster of researcher infrastructures. After their presentations, all the speakers were organized in a panel and ready to respond to questions from the audience and/or session moderator.

During the lunch-time, the attendees had a chance to meet about 16 environmental RIs that presented themselves during the so-called Science Fair. Last but not least, the event hosted an Award ceremony for the high school students who have participated in the Serious Game developed by ENVRIplus project.

Tribute to Professor Gaspar Barreira

This post is published on behalf of Jorge Gomes, leader of LIP’s Distributed Computing and Digital Infrastructures group.


Gaspar Barreira, one of the founders of the Portuguese Laboratory of Instrumentation and Experimental Particle Physics (LIP), passed away on 1 June 2019.

He was a strong advocate of distributed computing and international scientific collaboration. During the European Grid Initiative Design Study (2007-2009) he was chair of the EGI_DS Policy Board the body that joined the representatives of the national grid initiatives prior to the creation of the EGI Council. He was e-IRG delegate, coordinator of the Portuguese National Grid Initiative and promoter of IBERGRID the Iberian Grid Infrastructure that joins Portugal and Spain.

Gaspar Barreira was born in Braga in 1940 and studied physics and mathematics in the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Lisbon. He participated in the accession of Portugal to CERN, and in 1986 together with Mariano Gago he created LIP to which he devoted much of his immense energy. He made decisive contributes to establish LIP as a reference research laboratory not only in physics but also in instrumentation, computing and technology. He was Portuguese representative at the CERN council and in several other international research organizations.

Both before and after the revolution of April 25th 1974, he worked as few in the construction of a Portugal where knowledge, freedom and rationality were decisive. In 2006 he received the order of Infante D. Henrique for his contribute to the internationalization of Portuguese research. He departed, but leaves us an immense legacy of vision, endurance and resilience.  


The CernVM Users Workshop

The next CernVM Users Workshop will take place at CERN from 3 to 5 June 2019.

The workshop aims at bringing together users and developers to discuss the current status of the CernVM ecosystem and the future directions.

This time, a particular focus would be put on serverless cloud computing, and defining the path for more versatile CernVM-FS publishing workflows.  Previous discussions on integration with container ecosystems (containerd, singularity, docker, kubernetes) will be continued, together with a look at new tooling targeted at HPC deployment.

As in the previous editions, external speakers will attend to speak on selected technology topics.

More information about the CernVM Users Workshop 2019, including registration, abstract submission and programme is avalaible online.

A few take-away messages from RDA’s 13th Plenary Meeting

A few take-away messages from RDA’s 13th Plenary Meeting in Philadelphia, US, written by our colleague Matthew Viljoen


Opening Plenary

Julia Stoyanovich welcomed everyone as the main speaker and introduced the common theme of the conference – Responsible Data – focusing on the reality of statistical bias in data-processing algorithms & its societal impact.

The speaker’s proposal to tackle this issue was by enforcing the following aspects:

  • Algorithmic transparency (not just releasing source code, which can be unnecessary and often insufficient)
  • Algorithmic transparency requires data transparency,
  • Data transparency is not synonymous with making all data public but should release it whenever possible, inc. releasing data selection, collection, pre-processing methodologies, provenance, quality info. known sources of bias, privacy preservation statistical summaries of the data.
  • Data transparency – helps prevent discrimination and enables establishment of trust.
  • Technology alone is not enough. We also need regulation and civic engagement, something we should drive through engagement with the public, both technical and non-technical.

Working Group FAIR Data Maturity Model

  • The meeting gathered around 60 attendees from all over the world. The discussion went around the scope and methodology to create a common set of core assessment criteria for FAIRness via a bottom up approach: definition, development, testing and delivery.
  • We continued to discuss whether this assessment should be automatic (done by machines/algorithms) or manual, using examples of the volume of data & practicality considerations. We agreed that the scope should be cross-disciplinary rather than domain specific.

Joint Meeting: From observational data to information

  • Two Information Groups were introduced and included aspects of bringing raw data to usable information for research, and VREs, Science Gateways or Virtual Labs. These were followed by a number of different talks including one that raised much interest about a method for Annotating Data (implemented using a MongoDB separate from the data) and tools for measuring quality of preserved data.
  • I gave a presentation introducing the SKA/AENEAS project and the plans for a Science Gateway and agreed with the Chairs of the groups to continue engagement until the end of the project.

Meeting: Assessing FAIR Data Policy Implementation in Health Research

  • The meeting introduced the new FAIR4Health project and the landscape analysis it will conduct to assess FAIR implementation in health research.
  • I mentioned the importance of engaging with existing eInfrastructures to help most important outputs, workable implementations, e.g. ELIXIR and AAI aspects

Find out more about the RDA event, programme and media.

CERN School of Computing 2019: Cluj-Napoca, Romania

The CERN School of Computing 2019 will take place on September 15-28 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

The two-week programme consists of more than 50 hours of lectures and hands-on exercises, covering three main themes: physics computing, software engineering, and data technologies. However, it’s not all study – the social programme is also a vital part of the CERN School. There will be plenty opportunities to explore and experience some of Romania’s great cultural, historical and natural attractions, and profit from Cluj-Napoca’s location in heart of the Transylvania region.
Please see more information on the event.

Webinar: The EGI Notebooks service

The webinar “EGI Notebooks for interactive data analysis using EGI storage and compute services” will take place on Tuesday, 19 March from 15:00 to 16:00 (Europe/Amsterdam).

Notebooks is a browser-based tool for interactive analysis of data using EGI storage and compute services. The EGI Notebooks environment provides users with notebooks where they can combine text,  mathematics, computations and rich media output. EGI Notebooks is a multi-user service and can scale to multiple servers based on the EGI Cloud Compute service.

This webinar will introduce the key features of the EGI Notebooks service, particularly:

  • Easy access based on user authentication through EGI Check-In using institutional (eduGAIN) or social media accounts (e.g.: Google, Facebook, LinkedIn).
  • Graphical environment to write and run code, analyse and visualise data.
  • Persistent storage associated to each user, available in the notebooks environment.
  • Customisable with new notebook environments, expose any existing notebooks to your users.
  • Leverage on the EGI e-Infrastructure cloud compute and storage resources to run the notebooks.
  • Sharing of notebooks through Binder for Open Science.

More information:

Presenters: Giuseppe La Rocca and Enol Fernandez.
Event website.
Connection link.