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SwissEx Collaboration – Environmental E-Science at EPFL

Swiss Experiment The Swiss Experiment (or SwissEx) platform project will bring field measurements together with cyberinfrastructure for an unprecedented field investigation of environmental processes. The challenge is threefold:

  • Science: the collection of data for a global system, for a wide range of space and time scales and their interpretation;
  • Technology: the deployment of a large number of sensors with differing data rates, resolutions, embedded intelligence, cost, data acquisition, streaming, storage, security, authorization etc.; and
  • Knowledge management: the preservation of the knowledge of the circumstances, the methods, the locations and times of data acquisition and post-processing.

Technical Computing and the Swiss Experiment in actionGoal
The main goal of the collaboration between MSR and the Swiss Experiment project is to explore and enable the use of recent developments in the MSR SensorMap project to enhance the capabilities of the SwissEx infrastructure and to validate the appropriateness of the MSR tools in a major e-science context to respond to concrete requirements of environmental scientists in the type of large-scale, collaborative experimental approach taken by the SwissEx. Furthermore, we will explore selected novel technical challenges that emerge through the use of sensor middleware in the context of e-science, specifically in environmental research and engineering, in order to enhance the currently employed methods. The project will be driven by requirements and feedback from environmental scientists.

Microsoft SensorMap
SensorMap (a real-time sensor data browsing and visualization application based on MSR-SenseWeb, supports a range of functionalities from configuring sensor nodes through SenseWeb components including a gateway (MSRSense), a geo-spatial database for managing sensor metadata (Coordinator), a tool for retrieving and visualizing sensor real-time data and metadata (Aggregator), and a visual interface. SenseWeb components and the SensorMap visual interface provide functionalities that are currently not available in this form to the SwissEx, but which respond to needs that environmental scientists have clearly expressed during the planning of the project. An important aspect of SensorMap is the use and development of ontologies and standardization, which is considered highly important by the environmental scientists, especially for the description of instruments and data.

Technical Computing at work

Collaboration Plan
The envisaged new kind of e-science tool support for environmental engineering must be based on the capability to integrate data and services from heterogeneous sources, which in turn is based on an understanding of the specific requirements and models used by environmental research. In particular, it will be necessary to provide and process metadata that captures data provenance and quality so that data can be shared and integrated across experiments and research groups with a sufficient level of background knowledge and trust. Therefore the project will be structured in two main areas:

  • Data Management for dealing with the storage, querying, analysis and visualization of sensors and sensor data. This includes:
    • the development of an interoperability layer between SensorMap and GSN;
    • the enabling of SensorMap as a tool for visual browsing of measurement data and experimental sites; and
    • the complex scientific spatio-temporal query processing of experimental data.
  • Information management for dealing with modelling and ontologies for data and metadata and services and scientific workflows. This includes:
    • the development of shared base ontologies for experimental data;
    • the modeling and automated generation of domain-specific quality and provenance information; and
    • the support of automated composition and integration of semantically enriched data services.
Swiss Experiment using Technical Computing

We will present more detailed information and progress as the collaboration proceeds.

More Information

  1. The overall Swiss Experiment is funded by CCES and NCCR-MICS.
  2. Recent press articles on the Swiss Experiment
  3. Home page of the Swiss Experiment

Note: the text on this page was adapted from the latter with kind permission from EPFL.

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