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Enterprise Architecture for Transformative Research and Collaboration Across the Geosciences

NEW!-- Final report on GEAR conceputal design...

 Not so new...  Executive Summary of GEAR project conceptual design, for comment and discussion. Please have a look! (2015-09-24)


Conceptual Framework

This project seeks to integrate traditional information system components developed in various branches of the geosciences with a number of emerging technologies that support scholarly communication, self-organization and social networking in order to create an enterprise architecture that enables more comprehensive, data-intensive research designs and knowledge sharing within EarthCube. EarthCube is conceptualized as an evolving, community-governed cyberinfrastructure supporting geoscience research and education enterprise. It is considered from five distinct perspectives: as an open federation of systems, as an environment for scholarly communication, as an environment for cross-domain information integration, as a system to enable efficient execution of research workflows, and as an environment for alignment of stakeholder interests.


Technical Approach

Development of the conceptual design for EarthCube involves: (1) analysis of geoscience user needs and research scenarios, to understand the scope and functional requirements of the enterprise system; (2) review of architecture designs and technical approaches adopted in similarly large cross-domain information system projects, in geosciences and elsewhere, at the international (e.g. INSPIRE in Europe, GEOSS) and national (e.g. Federal Enterprise Architecture, NIF, NIEM, iPlant) levels; (3) development of a high-level EarthCube information model to include main functional components and their interactions; (4) analysis of emerging technologies and approaches that support scholarly communication in the science enterprise, such as researcher profile systems, social networks, Q&As, and stakeholder maps; (5) demonstrating how EarthCube will support configuring systems on demand for new research designs; (6) enabling reproducible science; (7) monitoring of different types of feedback in the science system as an instrument for configuring and tuning system to changing research designs and available resources. The design generally follows the Reference Model for Open Distributed Processing (RM-ODP) in the use of various viewpoints to specify large, distributed systems.

The project will demonstrate how the key concepts of the design will be implemented and validated in several use cases at the intersection of different geoscience domains, including critical zone science, hydrology, geochemistry, and geology.


Science Drivers

The project involves both geoscientists and computer scientists. The main drivers are: 1) geoscience grand challenges as articulated in a series of NSF vision documents and refined through the first several years of EarthCube development; and 2) adapting science practice to leverage the accelerating pace of technology innovation. Responding to grand challenges such as climate change prediction, water sustainability, analysis and management of hazards, and CO2 sequestration, requires new insights into the earth system dynamics, transcending disciplinary, organizational, political and other boundaries. A long-term design for EarthCube must accommodate science drivers and research designs that are not yet fully articulated, using technology that is constantly introducing new possibilities.


Benefits to Scientists

From the perspective of geosciences, the primary contribution of this work is the development of a conceptual framework for technology to support efficient, scientifically-sound and sustainable resource sharing and collaboration across geoscience disciplines to address grand challenge problems. In the operational EarthCube system, researchers will be able to efficiently execute complex research workflows; discover and integrate data from different domains; contribute their data and research products; visualize information in multiple dimensions, efficiently collaborate with other researchers, and jointly participate in advancing the infrastructure to accommodate new data types, models, and research designs. It will become easier to re-generate simulation results, independently validate modeling conclusions, or re-run models with new data obtained from different geoscience domains. From the perspective of cyberinfrastructure research, the main impact of the project is in extending enterprise architecture design methodology for the case of a highly complex, multi-stakeholder federation of systems, and generating new insights into the needs, opportunities and limitations of resource sharing and information integration across different types of geoscience data and models.



Additional relevant links to EarthCube-wide summaries:



  • David ValentineSan Diego Supercomputer Center/UCSD