Monday, September 16, 2013

RDA 2nd Plenary Meeting Part 1: Background and getting to Washington D.C.

The 2nd Plenary Meeting of RDA is taking place in Washington D.C. (U.S.)  between 16-19/9/2013. This time I was invited to participate as an agINFRA project member of the UAH team and in this direction, I applied for the grant which was available for this purpose; I feel lucky to have been selected for that. In addition, the trip was approved by the agINFRA project officer, so everything was confirmed and ready to be planned. There were the practicalities to be arranged (e.g. flight tickets, accommodation, registration etc.) during the last week of August; however, that was a rather inactive period so everything was arranged during the first days of September. much faster than I initially expected.

Despite the long trip (more than 12 hours pure flight time) and delays (due to heavy traffic at the Philadelphia airport security check-points) I managed to miss my connecting flight to Washington and had to wait for an additional 3,5 hours at the airport, I hope that I will finally manage to reach my hotel (I am still at the Philadelphia Airport, waiting for my flight to WAS).

Even though the whole concept of the Research Data Alliance is really interesting, I am mainly focused on the sessions dedicated to Agricultural Data (supported by the Agricultural Data Interoperability Interest Group of RDA), including the discussions of the Wheat Data Interoperability Working Group, where our efforts are currently focused on. Apart from the agINFRA partners involved in these groups (Johannes Keizer from FAO and Devika Madali from the Indian Statistical Institute), colleagues from other partner like INRA will also be present. Linked Data seems to be a really hot topic of the Conference and this comes at a time where a similar effort is taking place in the agINFRA project, where we expect to publish all metadata schemas, Knowledge Organization Systems used by the agINFRA data providers as well as metadata as linked data, following standards already established in the context of the Semantic Web. Additional sessions on metadata and data sharing in general seem really interesting and could provide ideas to be adapted for our purpose.

I have to admit that I am excited to participate in such a big event where so many key persons will be attending and will be available (?) for interesting discussions. I expect that fresh ideas discussed in the RDA meeting will be adapted by agINFRA while at the same time, the agINFRA methdologies and workflows could be adapted and reused in the effort done by the Wheat Data Interoperability group. agINFRA has already developed a methodology for the metadata management, the data integration and is working towards the publication of data and metadata as linked data.