Developing a ‘National Research Data Cloud’ for Australian Researchers: Release from the Department of Education

March 15, 2018

NOTE: Come 1 July 2018, the NRDC will be referred to as the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC)

 

The 2016 National Research Infrastructure Roadmap (2016 Roadmap) outlines national research infrastructure required over the coming decade so that Australia's world class research system continues to improve productivity, create jobs, lift economic growth and support a healthy environment.

 

The 2016 Roadmap identified the following nine focus areas that require ongoing support to ensure that Australia will be able to maintain its position as an emerging or established global leader:

 

  • Digital Data and eResearch Platforms

  • Platforms for Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences

  • Characterisation

  • Advanced Fabrication and Manufacturing

  • Advanced Physics and Astronomy

  • Earth and Environmental Systems

  • Biosecurity

  • Complex Biology

  • Therapeutic Development.

 

To progress the Digital Data and eResearch Platforms focus area, the Department of Education and Training (the Department) commissioned a review into the development of a National Research Data Cloud (NRDC) National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) project to meet the research sector’s eResearch needs into the future, including integrating and/or refocusing existing ANDS, Nectar and RDS activities.

 

The review is being conducted by a Reference Group chaired by Professor Robyn Owens (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) at the University of Western Australia). It builds on earlier work by Professor Tom Cochrane and Dr Rhys Francis.

 

The Reference Group has provided the Department with advice and recommendations on a Future Design for the NRDC. The Future Design Advice is intended to keep Australia at the forefront of global digital infrastructure development and delivery for research, transform the way that data-intensive research is conducted, and facilitate translation between the research and public and private sectors.

 

The Department has accepted the Future Design Advice as one of the key pillars which will underpin the implementation of the NRDC. The high-level and strategic advice it provides allows the flexibility that is critical given key decisions are still to be made, particularly in relation to the Australian Government’s Research Infrastructure Investment Plan (RIIP).

 

The Future Design Advice was developed through a series of evolving blueprints that were the subject of interactions and debate over the last several months. The Department appreciates the contributions of the over seventy individuals who have engaged in these discussions, including the presentation at the eResearch Australia 2017 conference and workshops with sector-based organisations.

 

With the Future Design Advice in mind, the Reference Group has progressed to developing a transition plan aimed at supporting a seamless transition to the NRDC, which is to commence on 1 July 2018, without disrupting the research that relies on the existing ANDS, Nectar and RDS projects.

 

The Reference Group is expected to complete its work by the end of the March 2018.

 

As well as other matters identified in the transition plan, the transition will see the NRDC take up existing ANDS, Nectar and RDS activities. The Department has agreed to the extension and appropriate funding of these activities until 30 June 2019, providing a key underpinning for the seamless transition. Other actions that lead to the establishment of the NRDC from April 2018 will be conducted in line with existing NCRIS Guidelines and funding, and subsequently on the Department’s ability to act in the context of the RIIP. The definition of these activities is expected to include broad consultation on the detailed implementation of the NRDC as part of an appropriately managed change process involving the new NRDC Interim Board and the Department.

 

The Department acknowledges the commitment and hard work of all those involved in the successful delivery of ANDS, Nectar and RDS over the period of those projects and going forward; work which enables this step change forward in eResearch for Australia.

 

Further information on the Future Design Advice will be provided publicly at a time that will be sufficient to inform discussions on the actual nature of its implementation in the context of the RIIP.

 

Any questions on the development of the NRDC, or requests to be kept updated, can be e-mailed to NCRIS@education.gov.au.

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Monash University is the lead agent of ANDS.

The University of Melbourne is the lead agent of Nectar.

The University of Queensland is the lead agent of RDS.

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This activity received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.