Brainstorm in the Golden Season of Data-driven Science: CODATA Events held in Beijing
The Committee on Data (CODATA) of the International Science Council (ISC) and CODATA-China organized a series of events in Beijing in the city’s golden season of September, including CAS-CODATA Training Workshop on Scientific Big Data and Machine Learning (9-20), CODATA Executive Committee Meeting (15-16), International Workshop on Implementing Open Research Data Policy and Practice (17-18), and 2019 CODATA Beijing Conference: Towards next-generation data-driven science: policies, practices and platforms (19-20).
This series of events reached its climax when 2019 CODATA Beijing Conference opened at Friendship Hotel on September 19, which was organized by CODATA and CODATA-China with support from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) of P. R. China, China Association for Science and Technology (CAST), and National Natural Science Foundation of China.
The conference attracted more than 300 participants from 45 countries representing six continents, featuring a two-day programme including 36 parallel sessions, panels and roundtable discussions on a dozen of broad topics such as global data cooperation and strategies, data and the SDGs, data and research domains, data policies and research culture, research and data infrastructures, sensitive data, RDM in institutions, big Earth data, implementing FAIR, open data and food security, data driven cities, and data and disaster risk reduction.
“Towards next-generation data-driven science”, theme of the conference, was emphasized in the welcome remark delivered by Prof. LI Shushen, Member and Vice President of the CAS and President of the University of CAS. “We are experiencing an unprecedented digital revolution which will reshape the way we live, work, create and communicate. And in terms of scientific research, data-driven science has become a new scientific paradigm which could be a radical transformation of the existing paradigms of theory, experimentation, and computation… The richness, relevance and openness of the scientific data will become an indispensable part of the engine to drive the innovation in science and technology in the twenty-first century.”
Mr. SU Jing, Director General of the National Science and Technology Infrastructure Center of MOST, expressed China’s willingness to contribute to the open data and open science movement. “As an important resource in the information age, scientific data has become a new type of infrastructure with great potential to solve scientific problems and promote the sustainable development of the society. China has been actively engaged in the global endeavor on the development of scientific data.”
Mr. WANG Qinglin, Deputy Director General of the Department of International Affairs of CAST, reaffirmed the importance of international cooperation in addressing the massive global challenges towards next-generation data-driven science. “We need to develop a more inclusive model based on the new requirement of multilateral and cross-disciplinary cooperation to promote open data initiatives on a global basis.”
CODATA President Prof. Barend Mons highlighted the key role of the collaborative effort and the conference in his welcome remark. According to the statistics of European open science cloud, most bottlenecks are not technical ones, but are related to the reward system and other social factors. In the conference program, there is a very healthy mix between talks about the technical issues and the social issues that are needed. “We cannot make real major decisions in any country. We have to make them internationally.”
This healthy mix between talks addressing technical and social factors were well demonstrated in the four keynote talks of the conference, CASEarth: A Big Earth Data Engineering Program by Prof. GUO Huadong, Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and CODATA President 2010-2014, Data Science and the UN Landmark Agreements by Prof. Virginia Murray from Public Health England and CODATA Executive Committee, Open Science, the role of UNESCO by Dr. Peggy Efua Oti-Boateng, Director of the UNESCO Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building in the Natural Sciences Sector, and Urban metabolism and a systems approach to improve collective intelligence and cities' resilience by Dr. Franz W. Gatzweiler, Professor at CAS Institute of Urban Environment and Executive Director of the International Council for Science’s global program on Urban Health and Wellbeing.
As a side event of the conference, the International Workshop on Implementing Open Research Data Policy and Practice was held at Friendship Hotel on September 17-18, during which renowned data policy experts and scientists from various fields representing six continents and various international organizations addressed the successes achieved and the challenges encountered for the implementation of data policies, and identified the most important next steps from policy perspective.
As a capacity-building side event of the conference, the CAS-CODATA Training Workshop on Scientific Big Data and Machine Learning was held in Beijing on September 9-20. The training workshop received more than 750 applications and selected 25 talented scientists, data engineers and data managers representing 17 developing countries to participate in the training program on various topics such as basic data science skills, machine learning and data-driven scientific discovery, scientific data policies and good practices, and selected disciplinary scientific data stewardship exemplars.
As a national member of CODATA representing China, CAS has a long history of promoting the production, management and use of scientific data. In early 1980s, the scientific database was incorporated into the 10th Five-Year Plan of the CAS as a key component of the early cyberinfrastructure for research. In 1986, the State Council of China approved CAS to construct the scientific database and its information system, and the development of scientific data has become a prioritized task of the academy since then. After nearly four decades of collective efforts by a large number of scientists and data engineers, CAS has built a scientific data production network supported by national key research facilities, field research stations and large observation and experimentation platforms, and started to establish the next-generation data infrastructure represented by some early-stage endeavors like the China Science and Technology Cloud. According to a rough estimation, the amount of data resources, the level of openness and the number of data practices of the academy rank at the top in China. Among the 20 national scientific data centers initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology this year, 11 will be established by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.