European Commission Will Build £5bn Cloud Platform For Scientists

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European Open Science Cloud is part of Commission’s Digital Single Market initiative

The European Commission (EC) is set to spend billions of euros on what it calls a European Open Science Cloud that will crowdsource the expertise of 1.7 million researchers and 70 million science and technology professionals across the continent.

Part of the EU’s digitisation drive that should boost the use of technology in the public sector, the £5.3bn (€6.7bn) cloud will be a ‘virtual environment’ to store, share, and re-use scientific and technological data without the barriers of discipline and verticals.

The entire project is supported by the European Data Infrastructure, the blanket term for the EU’s plan for high-bandwith networks, large scale data centres and supercomputers.

The goal? The European Commission want Europe to be a bigger voice in the “global race” for high performance computing in line with its “economic and knowledge potential”.

Fragmented

“Europe is the largest producer of scientific data in the world, but insufficient and fragmented infrastructure means this ‘big data’ is not being exploited to its full potential,” said the Commission.

Carlos Moedas, commissioner for research, science and innovation, added: “Our goal is to create a European Open Science Cloud to make science more efficient and productive and let millions of researchers share and analyse research data in a trusted environment across technologies, disciplines and borders.

openstackcloud“We listened to the scientific community’s plea for an infrastructure for Open Science and with this comprehensive plan we can get down to work. The benefits of open data for Europe’s science, economy and society will be enormous.”

While initially planned for just researchers and academic institutions, it is hoped in the near future the cloud service will be able to benefit all industries in Europe’s ‘Industry 4.0’ vision.

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Digitisation

The announcement comes as the European Commission presented a set of measures today to support and link up national initiatives for the ‘digitisation’ of industry and related services: a Digital Single Market strategy.

The Commission also proposes measures to speed up the development of common standards in what it deems priority areas, such as 5G networks or cybersecurity, and to modernise public services.

The Commission said that many industry sectors are still lagging behind in their digital transformation. Initiatives like IoT, robotics and supercomputing are a way to combat this.

Jobs?

But one of the main concerns for workers across Europe is how a digitisaion drive will affect their jobs. With robots replacing workers in factories and powerful computers handling the tasks of multiple IT workers, the EC also has to work to allay fears of redundancy.

artifical intelligenceTo this end, the commission said it would “present an EU skills agenda” that will help give people the skills needed for jobs in the digital age.

In January, the World Economic Forum (WEF) predicted that technological changes such as robotics and artificial intelligence will contribute to the loss of 7.1 million jobs, offset by the creation of 2 million new roles.

The figures appear in a report titled “The Future of Jobs”, which centres on the impact of what the WEF calls the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” – including developments across artificial intelligence, machine-learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and genetics and biotechnology.

The report covers 15 countries that make up about 65 percent of the world’s workforce. Its findings correspond to projections by the UN’s International Labour Organisation of an increase in global unemployment of 11 million by 2020.

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