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Recommendations for interoperability among infrastructures
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
The BiCIKL project is born from a vision that biodiversity data are most useful if they are presented as a network of data that can be integrated and viewed from different starting points. BiCIKL’s goal is to realise that vision by linking biodiversity data infrastructures, particularly for literature, molecular sequences, specimens, nomenclature and analytics. To make those links we need to better understand the existing infrastructures, their limitations, the nature of the data they hold, the services they provide and particularly how they can interoperate. In light of those aims, in the autumn of 2021, 74 people from the biodiversity data community engaged in a total of twelve hackathon topics with the aim to assess the current state of interoperability between infrastructures holding biodiversity data. These topics examined interoperability from several angles. Some were research subjects that required interoperability to get results, some examined modalities of access and the use and implementation of standards, while others tested technologies and workflows to improve linkage of different data types.These topics and the issues in regard to interoperability uncovered by the hackathon participants inspired the formulation of the following recommendations for infrastructures related to (1) the use of data brokers, (2) building communities and trust, (3) cloud computing as a collaborative tool, (4) standards and (5) multiple modalities of access:If direct linking cannot be supported between infrastructures, explore using data brokers to store linksCooperate with open linkage brokers to provide a simple way to allow two-way links between infrastructures, without having to co-organize between many different organisationsFacilitate and encourage the external reporting of issues related to their infrastructure and its interoperability.Facilitate and encourage requests for new features related to their infrastructure and its interoperability.Provide development roadmaps openlyProvide a mechanism for anyone to ask for helpDiscuss issues in an open forumProvide cloud-based environments to allow external participants to contribute and test changes to featuresConsider the opportunities that cloud computing brings as a means to enable shared management of the infrastructure.Promote the sharing of knowledge around big data technologies amongst partners, using cloud computing as a training environmentInvest in standards compliance and work with standards organisations to develop new, and extend existing standardsReport on and review standards compliance within an infrastructure with metrics that give credit for work on standard compliance and developmentProvide as many different modalities of access as possibleAvoid requiring personal contacts to download dataProvide a full description of an API and the data it servesFinally, the hackathons were an ideal meeting opportunity to build, diversify and extend the BiCIKL community further, and to ensure the alignment of the community with a common vision on how best to link data from specimens, samples, sequences, taxonomic names and taxonomic literature.