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NCSA data management technology leveraged in NSF-funded data project SEAD 2.0

Five years ago, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign partnered with two other universities to lead a National Science Foundation-funded DataNet partnership called Sustainable Environment through Actionable Data (SEAD). Now, SEAD 2.0 is available for researchers to manage, share, and collaborate around scientific data, and, when they’re ready, effortlessly publish and preserve data in long-term repositories.

Get to work with SEAD 2.0 now here!

NCSA partnered with the University of Michigan and Indiana University in the development of SEAD’s Active Content Repository (ACR) in 2011. SEAD’s mission is to enable data reuse and reproducible science, focusing on new modalities of sustainability science, the study of dynamic interactions between nature and society, as a driving use case. SEAD responds to the needs of researchers for long-term management of data by developing new capabilities for its integration, dissemination and long-term preservation.

SEAD 2.0 specifications and functionality:

  • Project Spaces creation with a click of a button
  • Support for sign-in through both local and social accounts using Google, Facebook, ORCID, or Twitter
  • Streamlined publishing workflow with more repository choices and better tracking of your publication requests
  • A toggle for making datasets public without publishing them
  • Ability to move files from one dataset to another or one folder to another with a Project Space
  • In-browser previews of popular file formats (including Microsoft Office documents, videos, and geospatial maps)
  • One-stop search and browse across all Project Spaces you belong to or that have public datasets (without going into each individual Project Space)
  • More intuitive navigation and usability improvements
  • Ability to customize metadata fields on a per Project Space basis (for administrators)
  • Simplified user management (for administrators)

SEAD contributes to and is built upon open source components, including the research data management framework Clowder (formerly Medici), built by NCSA’s Innovative Software and Data Analysis group within its new Scientific Software and Applications division. Clowder’s unique features include that it:

  • Provides extensibility in terms of data types supported
  • Provides file and dataset previews in the browser (datasets as collections of files)
  • Includes an extensible metadata/derived data extractor suite, allowing for an auto-curation element to provide metadata when a user does not
  • Can support new and custom metadata schemas/ontologies
  • Supports user profiles and the ability to follow datasets, collections, users activity
  • Provides a comprehensive web service API to all underlying features, enabling developers to build new applications on top of it
  • Allows for deployments on your cloud or standalone server
  • Has a user interface that can be re-skinned per project/organization
  • Supports groups and data partitioning and access in the form of spaces

Overall, Clowder aims to provide the scientific community with an open source, skinnable, feature-rich, and highly extensible web-based data management framework that allows communities, universities, and/or individual labs to manage their data products in a manner that enables both preservation and reuse.

About SEAD

SEAD offers data management, curation, and publication services to researchers who require reliable cyberinfrastructure and an enhanced ability to manage, integrate, interpret, share, curate, and preserve data. SEAD’s web-based data services are powerful, user-friendly, and tailored to the requirements of the diverse projects within the scientific community. SEAD is funded by the National Science Foundation under cooperative agreement #OCI0940824.

About Clowder

Clowder is a web-based research data management system designed to support multiple research domains and the diverse data types utilized across those domains. It contains three major extension points for the preprocessing, processing, and previewing of data. When new data is added to the system, whether it is via the web front-end or through the REST API, preprocessing serving as a form of autocuration/analysis is off-loaded to cloud based extraction services that analyze the data’s contents to extract appropriate data and metadata. These extractors attempt to extract information and run preprocessing steps based on the type of the data, for example to create lightweight web-accessible previews, allowing users to examine the contents of one or more datasets. This raw and derived metadata is presented to the user in the Clowder web interface. Started at NCSA, Clowder is open source software with features and functionality being developed under projects funded by ONR, NSF, NIH, DOE as well as other agencies.

Media contact

Kristin Williamson
Assistant Director, Public Affairs

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