After the recent e-IRG Workshop, held in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, we had the opportunity to speak with Erik Fledderus, Chair of the working group responsible for the new edition of the e-IRG Roadmap. Erik Fledderus explained that the Roadmap 2016 basically shows the way forward for e-Infrastructure providers. It formulates advice to the key stakeholders - the operators themselves of course - but also the Member States, the scientific communities, and the European Commission. They are all part of this road ahead where the European Open Science Cloud is clearly part of the game but also the long tail of science: the daily struggle of users of where to go with their data. All these things are in the background and should be addressed on a level that might not be directly applicable for an individual researcher but in the end should make his or her life better and simpler.
There are also a number of recommendations in the Roadmap. We asked Erik Fledderus to name some of the general ones. He highlighted two of the important advices that were also present in the e-IRG Workshop. The first one is the importance of a dialogue instead of a catalogue. Just having a list of services is not the way to be engaged or to engage users and scientists in using these services. A dialogue is more empathic. It deals with questions like 'what do you bring on the table?'. This is not just money but issues like 'what are your solutions?'; 'what are your thoughts about future solutions?'. What is important for a dialogue is that is has a strong flow towards actual realisation and operations around services. This is one clear message that was formulated in the advice but that came out quite strong. The workshop participants provided lots of examples and details of how that might work.
The second advice that Erik Fledderus wanted to highlight is the role of Member States and in particular the national nodes. The national node or hub may be quite involved. It is not just one player, it is a group of players. It is a national ecosystem that has to flourish, where you have incentives, where you have flows of funds but also roles and responsibilities when it comes down to performing this dialogue and delivering these services. It is not just about a wide international pan-European level but it also comes down to national local nodes that have to be strong in order to build this broad vision.
There were some lively discussions about the Roadmap in Bratislava as well as online. We asked Erik Fledderus what will happen next.
Erik Fledderus explained that there was a consultation round that was extended a little longer because the working group on the Roadmap was really looking forward to the comments of the ESFRI working groups and a number of other groups of operators and public service providers whose reactions are important. Once they have been gathered, the comments will be included in a way that will pay tribute to this consultation. The e-IRG Roadmap working group will deliver the Roadmap early 2017. Then, it actually starts. Erik Fledderus said that one should think about what might be the role of e-IRG in being part of the advice.
If the advice goes to the European Commission, if the advice goes to the communities and to the Member States, how will e-IRG be acting to make that this advice is also being realised? e-IRG should be part of the solution and part of the advices is also involving e-IRG's role. Having lunch with the national contact points, be close to the European Commission to see how they develop the new working plans, the tail of Horizon2020, but also the new Framework: that is something e-IRG should definitely be involved in. After delivering this Roadmap, the story continues and really starts.
We are looking forward to speak with Erik Fledderus again next year to talk about the results.