Workshop: Virtual Research Environments #cedem16

In the afternoon of CeDEM16, three workshops took place, of which I participated in the Virtual Research Environments one.

CeDEM – the international Conference for e-Democracy and Open Government – brings together e-democracy, e-participation and open government specialists working in academia, politics, government and business to critically analyse the innovations, issues, ideas and challenges in the networked societies of the digital age. The CeDEM16 will be held from May 18th to May 20th 2016 at the Danube University Krems.

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Workshop: Virtual Research Environments

  • Virtual Research Environments: Obtaining New Insights by Sharing Open Data for Interdisciplinary Research Purposes (Anneke Zuiderwijk, Marijn Janssen, Keith Jeffery, Daniele Bailo and Yi Yin)

The workshop dealt with virtual research environments and issues of data sharing in such environments.

Virtual research environments (VRE) and related theories are already used in different projects, e.g. ENVRI bringing together research environments in the domain of environmental science, or ELIXIR, a distributed infrastructure for life-science information. Those do not allow for interdisciplinary research. Researchers often want to conduct multidisciplinary research with open research data often face a number of problems in existing research environments: data context (how is data usually collected in another domain), data heterogeneity, user experiences, or fast changes to datasets.

The workshop was for potential users of open data research environments. The VREa4EIC project is developing a reference architecture. It aims at f.i. increasing the usability of VRE, to increase the quality of user experiences and to improve contextual awareness and interoperability. What is wanted is a kind of information pool.

Privacy by Design-related issues are that often data is collected from individuals, and privacy is a complex construct interpreted differently among countries and cultures. Big data is always a threat to privacy. Also: was consent given to share information? Who owns the data? Do you have the tools to anonymize? How does anonymization work? Can it never be traced back?

A challenge of the researcher sharing data is also trust in users: Do you think the user can interpret the data in the right way and has the skills and capabilities for handling the data.

The workshop part discussed requirements of VREs and possible scenarios based on open data, e.g. mass migration in Europe, the oganization of a music festival in Vienna, or studying the effects of pollution on cancer.

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