SCIENCE leads the way in data management – University of Copenhagen

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05 April 2018

SCIENCE leads the way in data management

DATA

Massive amounts of data pose a challenge to every corner of society – and research is no exception. However, the ERDA IT system, with its 4 million gigabytes of storage space, allows Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen to be among the world’s best with regards to effective research data management. According to one professor, more ought to use the system.

An astronomical amount of research data is collected over the course of a year at SCIENCE. The value of data decreases when it is poorly stored and unable to be readily shared. This is what ERDA was designed for and where it excels.


The Electronic Research Data Archive (ERDA) is a highly effective data storage and archiving system that allows everyone at Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen to upload large amounts of data, access them in various ways and share data with partners both within and beyond the university. In many ways, ERDA resembles file-sharing platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive – except that it is better and safer. 

ERDA secures SCIENCE’s six lane data highway that, among other things, allows researchers to store and share research data. According to Professor Brian Winter, head of the Faculty of Science’s High-Performance Computing Center, SCIENCE is a leader when it comes to the development of data management systems, compared with other universities around the world:

"Amazon, Google and Oracle are huge, and this is their business. But with regards to research data management, we are at the forefront."

A decade old explosion of data
An astronomical amount of research data is collected over the course of a year at SCIENCE. The value of data decreases when it is poorly stored and unable to be readily shared. This is what ERDA was designed for and where it excels.

"Prior to ERDA, I - and many others – drove around with external hard drives to share data with one another. It was incredibly complicated and difficult to deal with having the latest versions of data with numerous people simultaneously working together," says Professor Brian Winter.

Whereas a normal laptop might be equipped with 200-300 GB of memory on its hard drive, ERDA has 4000 terabytes (TB) of storage space. These four million GB correspond to the memory of more than 14,000 laptops.

Brian Winter first noticed the explosion of research data a decade ago. For legal reasons it made the most sense for SCIENCE to have its own data platform, rather than relying on other web-based services. But, also, quite simply because these systems are lacking.

"Everyone ought to use ERDA. The greatest advantage is that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are allowed to store data and let them go beyond UCPH. Furthermore, ERDA is much more effective and incredibly faster than Dropbox, for example, when working from the university at least," explains Professor Winter, who heads the High-Performance Computing Center at SCIENCE that operates ERDA.

Major role in large energy-related project
ERDA's ability to manage large amounts of data is now being deployed in the CINEMA project. The major international project has a DKK 45 million budget and allows researchers to use x-ray techniques to inspect fuel cells, subsurface oil, chalk, rockwool and wind turbine blades so as to analyse, understand and develop energy-related materials. Data, which in the case of CINEMA consists of 3D images, are transferred to ERDA from France, Switzerland, England and Japan, where the various materials have been photographed.

Highly detailed images, such as those of individual fibers of wind turbine blades, take up considerable space. There are also 14 partners involved in the project -  including companies such as Rockwool, Haldor Topsøe, LM Windpower and others - that must have access to the data.

"The main purpose of ERDA is to ensure that all research partners can easily share data and programmes," according to Professor Winter.

Just as ERDA helps the CINEMA project partners share data, any research group can easily and securely share data with others both within and beyond SCIENCE and the University of Copenhagen.

Get started with ERDA

Part of SCIENCE’s digitization agenda
ERDA is a part of the larger digitization agenda at SCIENCE and falls under the Better opportunities for data management at SCIENCE initiative, where the goal is to provide everyone at SCIENCE with easy and fast access to data management and sharing.