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Making mountains out of molehills: system builds public-access big data from many sources

23 / 02 / 2018, Mongabaycom News

What if we had a public library for scientific data? The proliferation of sensors monitoring the Earth—from space to planes, drones, vehicles, park rangers, camera traps, and even animal tracking collars—has generated so much information that researchers now need new technology to access and manage it. Scientists are increasingly uploading data to online platforms for storing and sharing genetic, taxonomic, and spatial data—such as Movebank, GenBank, Barcode Of Life Data systems (BOLD), Wildbook, CollectEarth, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and Map4Environment. Forest along the Kinabatagan River in Sabah, Malaysia. Scientists increasingly rely on shared data sets to study complex systems and ecological processes. Photo credit: George Powell As part of U.S. President Obama’s Big Data Initiative, the National Science Foundation (NSF) supported the formation of the Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE). This network of data repositories came together in 2012 to address the growing need to manage vast amounts of diverse scientific data and make them available for science. And like a library system, DataONE formalizes collaboration among these data centers to help scientists with three main big data challenges: Preserving and storing their data securely over time; Finding reliable data sets to help address large-scale and long-term research questions; and Visualizing and analyzing large amounts of data. These issues are “especially important now as we deal with challenges that are long-term in nature, things like climate change, major movements of populations into new areas, and long-lasting droughts,” said William Michener, DataONE principal investigator from the University of New…

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