European partnership for digital boost in biodiversity research

Publication date
8 Feb 2011

At an international conference at the University of Amsterdam on 19 January 2011, LifeWatch, a European research infrastructure for biodiversity and ecosystem research, has officially been launched. The aim of LifeWatch is to set up an enduring infrastructure that will allow scientists to publish, share, combine and preserve their data and provide them with opportunities to carry out pioneering research in the field of biodiversity and ecosystems.

Science representatives from five countries - the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Romania and Hungary – have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, making them the founding fathers of this European research infrastructure. Also thirteen Dutch parties* in the fields of biology and eScience, including the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI), have signed a mutually Memorandum of Understanding, outlining their intentions for a joint Dutch contribution decision. LifeWatch in the Netherlands is led by Peter van Tienderen, director of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics University of Amsterdam.

Currently LifeWatch focuses on data providers that can contribute sizeable archives, such as digitalized museum collections. However, in the future it is to be expected that a rapidly growing fraction of the input will be, due to data streams from wireless sensor networks, deployed in all sorts of biotopes where they continuously monitor various biodiversity parameters. CWI will look into what consequences this would have for the LifeWatch infrastructure with regard to enriching these data streams with metadata and publishing them online. 

In the future CWI intends to expand its collaboration with LifeWatch by conducting joint research projects and making available more of its expertise in areas such as the semantic web and database technologies, scalable web services, statistical analysis and visualization of huge and evolving spatial data bases.

* UvA, NIOO, NIOZ, NCB, Naturalis, CWI, SARA, e-Science Research Center, DANS, BigGrid, NLBIF, de Gegevensautoriteit Natuur (GaN), KWR Watercycle Research.

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