News Bits 2013
LOFAR LTA Development meeting
Friday, November 15th, 2013
Partners from LOFAR, Target, SurfSARA and Julich convened in Dwingeloo this Wednesday to discuss the progress and future needs of the LOFAR Long-term Archive (LTA). The main functionalities of the archive are already in place and are currently used by LOFAR to store processed data from its ongoing science projects. The integration of the Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) capabilities into the archive remains a major challenge but it's expected to be completed by the end of the year. Next to this effort, the archive team explores an alternative to the HSM, the LTFS file system interface from IBM for access and management of data stored on magnetic tape. Testing of the LTFS is expected to begin in February next year. The team has also planned a demo presentation of the LOFAR LTA the coming Friday at ASTRON.
Europeana may open doors to Monk
Friday, November 15th, 2013
The Monk creator, Prof. Lambert Schomaker has started talks with Europeana - the digital library, museum and archive of Europe - to gain access to selected items in its impressive 30 million collection of digitized cultural objects. With its highly diverse online collections from more than 2000 libraries, archives and museums, Europeana can offer "an experimental lab" for the testing, evaluation and future improvement of the Monk self-learning algorithms. Meanwhile, Monk has successfully ingested 900 new scans from digitized historical collections in several languages written by different authors. The variations of the authors' handwriting styles will pose new challenges for the Monk system.
The LifeLines "beehive"
Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
The headquarters and labs of the LifeLines project are bustling with activities these days. Along with designing and building the CADET system to support the LifeLines catalog representation, engineers and researchers are also busy conducting data validation for all 165.000 participants in the study before data can be released to the medical research community. In the meantime, design concepts are being developed that will allow the integration of external databases to the LifeLines architecture. The data from the LifeLines study is expected to generate much scientific interest beyond the borders of the Netherlands and Europe, so discussions are ongoing as to how external access from all over the world should be managed in terms of security and privacy. The Trial Coordination Center (TCC), CIT and Target are currently involved in the migration of some fo the workspaces to new hardware. The production facilities of LifeLines will be hosted by the CIT which requires the migration of the UMCG databases to the data center at the CIT. Read more about the Lifelines current news and activities on their website.
Target to be showcased at the ICT Open conference
Monday, November 4th, 2013
The ICTOpen 2013 ia one of the largest Dutch conferences focused on the latest developments and research findings in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). This year, the conference is taking place in Eindhoven between November 27 and 28. The diverse program of the conference could not be comprehensive without presenting the unique mission and recent successes of the Target project. Prof. Edwin A. Valentijn, the founder and coordinator of Target, is invited as one of the keynote speakers for the event and another invitation was extended to Dr. Lambert Schomaker who developed the Monk system for handwritten text recognition, which is one of the core projects within Target.
Regional minister of Groningen province pays a visit to Target Holding
Monday, October 21st, 2013
The regional minister of the province of Groningen, Mrs. Yvonne van Mastrigt was eager to learn more about the activities of our partner Target Holding during her visit last week to Media Centrale in Groningen. The visit was part of the minister's tour to many SMEs in the region where she met and spoke to the people working towards generating more business and job opportunities in the north of the country. Target Holding presented to Mrs. Mastrigt the "1000 Smart Meters" project run in partnership with the Groningen municipality, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Enexis and several housing corporations. The project seeks to analyse and ultimately change patterns in household energy consumption. Smart meters will be used for monitoring, Target Holding will offer assistance in the processing and analysis of the data and several other companies will later develop targeted technologies that can assist in lowering household energy consumption.
Implementation of automated tape storage into the LOFAR Long-term Archive (LTA)
Tuesday, October 15th, 2013
The Target and LOFAR team are currently busy integrating the Hierarchical Storage Management (HSM) capability into the LOFAR long term archive (LTA). This will allow the automated storage to and retrieval from tape of LOFAR data. The HSM is a crucial part of the long term archive as LOFAR is expected to generate petabytes of data during the course of its operation and much of this data will be store on tape.
LifeLines develops new tools for its catalog viewer
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
The ICT team of the LifeLines project are in the process of developing new and refining existing tools that will allow doctors and medical researchers to view and easily navigate through the LifeLines catalog. The catalog will contain the genotype and phenotype data of all 165000 participants in the study. New tools are also being built to support catalog presentation and guarantee user-friendly interaction with the end users that include doctors, medical and health care researchers.
Infoversum gets its dome
Tuesday, Sept 17th, 2013
The biggest spin off of the Target project, the 3D full dome Infoversum theater reaches an important milestone today when the 65 ton dome will be placed on top of the main construction with the help of a powerful crane delivered to Groningen specifically for this task. The master mind behind the Infoversum, prof. Edwin Valentijn, important collaborators and sponsors of the dome theater, local and national media will be present at the construction site on Ebbingekwartierterrein. The Infoversum has already caught the attention of the public not only in Groningen but the whole of northern Netherlands. The 3D dome theater will be equipped with novel visualization technologies that will bring on the spherical screen of the Infoversum immersive art movies, science shows, creative digital exhibitions, educational programs, business presentations and more. The Infoversum is expected to open doors to the public in 2014.
Monk visits the DigiPal team in London
Monday, Sept 16th, 2013
Prof. Lambert Schomaker and members of his team attended the third symposium organized by the DigiPal team at the Department of Digital Humanities in King's College London on September 16th. The DigiPal team runs a project that aims at empowering paleographic research with computer based tools that can allow for new methods to be used in the studies of handwritten medieval manuscripts. Prof. Schomaker introduced Monk as a system for handwritten text recognition and showcased the application of Monk to digitized historical documents from the Dutch National Archive as well as various international historical collections. Ideas to use Monk as a tool for enhancing paleographic research were discussed.
Target receives attention during the Science Operations 2013 conference
Friday, Sept 13th, 2013
With a keynote presentation, invited talk and a poster, Target managed to grab some attention at this year's Science Operations conference in Madrid. The conference is part of the collaborative research initiatives between two of the largest scientific organizations in Europe - the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO) - with the objective of finding new paths to cooperation and improved efficiency of shared resources. The topic of efficient and reliable data handing dominated the discussion as both ESO and ESA recognize that many of their projects are very data-intensive and demanding of distributed ICT environments that can foster international collaborations. During his keynote talk, prof. Edwin Valentijn highlighted Target's data centric approach to the management of massive data volumes that allows for a flexible, dynamic and distributed interaction with the data using "data about data". To learn more about this approach, see Target Technologies.
Alumni of the university learn how to uncover the mysteries of the Dead Sea Scrolls using Monk
Friday, Aug 30th, 2013
Prof. Lambert Schomaker gave an exciting lecture titled "The computer as a gold digger' - How to apply methods from artificial intelligence in the research on the Dead Sea Scrolls?" on August 29th in the Drents Museum in Assen. The presentation was part of the opening program for the exhibition of the famous Dead Sea Scrolls, which will be on display at the museum until January 5th, 2014. During his lecture, Prof. Schomaker described the Monk system used to digitally analyze some of the Dead Sea Scrolls and help researchers in the humanities answer questions about the origin, history and ownership of the ancient texts. The Monk system relies on the compute and storage facilities of Target to run its services.
Target coordinator Edwin Valentijn quoted in the Technisch Weekblad
Tuesday, Aug 27th, 2013
"Big Data in the polder" is the title of a recently published article in the national weekly magazine Technisch Weekblad. Focusing on the growing number of Big Data projects and initiatives in the Netherlands, the article couldn't be complete without dedicating a few columns to the Target expertise data center and the "big data" R&D activities conducted there. The Target coordinator Edwin Valentijn, explains briefly how Target was set up and emphasizes the significance of establishing Groningen and the Netherlands as a strong "big data" hub in Europe and the rest of the world. Besides Target, you can read about other national "big data" developments in the Dutch Institute for Sub-atomic Physics (NIKHEF), CWI and more. Click here to read the full article (available in Dutch only).
NASA's participation in the Euclid mission highlighted in its Physics of the Cosmos newsletter
Monday, Aug 26th, 2013
The recently established ESA-NASA partnership in the context of the Euclid mission was announced in the August issue of NASA's Physics of the Cosmos newsletter after a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two organization earlier this year. Led by the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), NASA will deliver near-infrared detectors and associated electronics that will be used in the construction of the Near Infrared Spectrometer Photometer (NISP) - one of the two instruments that will be mounted on the satellite. In return, 40 US scientists will join the Euclid Consortium bringing the total number of US researchers that will be involved in the science expected to come out of the mission to 54. NASA is currently exploring possibilities to join the Euclid Science Ground Segment (SGS) of which Target is an important partner. Proceed to the full article.
New article about Genome of the Netherlands (GoNL) project
A new article about the Genome of the Netherlands (GoNL) project just appeared in the European Journal for Human Genetics published by the Nature Publishing Group. The GoNL is one of the projects within the Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure-Netherlands (BBMRI-NL) - the national node for the European BBMRI. The project objective is to create a network of biobanks with different types of molecular and phenotype data for trio-families (two parents and one offspring) from all provinces in the country, and use whole-genome-sequencing to characterize DNA sequence variation in the Dutch population. Several biobank consortia within the Netherlands are collaborating to build this massive catalog. One of these consortia is LifeLines, a project that uses some of Target's "know-how" in the implementation of the data access to, and distribution and security of the information in the biobanks. To read the whole article about the Genome of the Netherlands project, click here.
Target partner IBM to open a new service center in Groningen
It seems that successful collaborative initiatives between IBM and regional public or private institutions (see Target) have led to the IT industry giant deciding to set up yet another one. Last week, IBM have announced that they will open a new service center in the city of Groningen in close collaboration with the city and province of Groningen, University of Groningen, Hanze University of Applied Sciences and the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). The new service center will open up to 350 new IT positions to experts, and graduates in the field of software, hardware and computer science, offering locally based technical expertise in Dutch. This is expected to drive innovation, boost the IT industry in the region and establish Groningen and the area as a Big Data hub in the Netherlands and Europe. To read the whole story, go here
OmegaCEN operations fully transferred to the testbed
The Target partner, OmegaCEN reports that the group has successfully transferred all its operations to the Target testbed. Currently, the group is improving the robustness of the production databases and making preparations for a stress test when massive data production (up to three times the size of KiDS survey) and quality control will be initiated and the performance of the system analyzed.
Target scientific manager Rees Williams featured in Pictogram
Rees Williams is confidently looking back from the cover page of the June issue of Pictogram, the ICT magazine of the University of Groningen. And it does take confidence, dedication and a lot of hard work to be the scientific manager of a large public-private project like Target. Rees doesn't like to be photographed, but he enjoys talking about his work. Sail away with him and learn about Target, the projects Target is involved in and what the future of Big Data management is in this exclusive interview (unfortunately, only in Dutch at the moment).
The power of ''2'' and how to download the Universe
The Target coordinator, prof. Edwin Valentijn delivered a public lecture "The Information Universe: Big Data is Everywhere" as part of Target's participation in the annual Night of Arts and Science. The event took place on June 1st and comprised exhibitions, lectures, and concerts spread in various locations around the city of Groningen. Despite the late hour, when the mind is naturally disinclined to focus and listen, the Curators' room at the Academy building was filled to the brim with curious minds of all ages who were eager to learn more about the exciting new possibilities offered by technology to record and analyse not only the natural world around us, but also our social and group behaviour dynamics. Prof. Valentijn's lecture introduced the power of bits, explained how we use it today to peek deeper at the secrets of our Universe and left the listener wondering if possibilities are limitless and we will, soon, download the whole Universe. Photo: Prof. Valentijn presenting at the Night of Arts and Science
LifeLines presented to the royal family during their visit to Groningen
The Royal family paid a visit to the city of Groningen on May 28th touring important buildings and getting introduced to major initiatives undertaken in Groningen and the North of the Netherlands. The province has chosen two main themes around which it develops new projects and campaigns - healthy aging and energy. LifeLines was presented to the royal family as one of the largest projects in the area of healthy aging. The Lifelines project aims at collecting massive volumes of health related data from around 150000 participants over the next thirty years. Life science researchers and medical doctors can then use this pool of data to better understand what factors affect our health on the long term and determine the quality and speed of aging. Target is a partner in LifeLines providing data handling facilities to the project.
Monk is growing
The Monk system, hosted on the Target testbed has recently expanded its activities, ingesting handwritten manuscripts and books not only from the Dutch National Archive, but from various other international institutions. Using volunteers to train the system, Monk is continually getting better at data mining handwritten documents. The father of the Monk system, Prof. Lambert Schomaker is now developing tools that will give users the experience of live training and entice more volunteers to help improve Monk algorithms. To learn more about the Monk, see Target projects.
Target explores testbed security
The Target tesbed provides access, processing and storage to a large number of scientific, public and commercial users who have very diverse user requirements. With the number of users expanding rapidly, the Target consortium is currently drawing a roadmap that describes near future implementations of standard and novel techniques, which will ensure very high security level to all Target users.
Target & the Infoversum join the annual Night of Arts and Science
One summer night each year, the city of Groningen transforms from the tranquil northern residency into a vibrant hub of the arts and sciences. But much of modern sciences and some modern art rely on or originate from what we call today Big Data - massive volumes of data created or collected, process and visualized by the contemporary technologies of our digital era. To start an engaging discussion about the emerging role of Big data in both arts and sciences, the Target coordinator Prof. Edwin A. Valentijn will deliver a talk, titled " The Information Universe: Big Data is everywhere", as part of the events planned for the evening. To read more about the Night of Arts and Sciences, see the program and book tickets, click here.
LOFAR scientific data stored on the Target LTA (Long-term Archive)
LOFAR, one of the most advanced radio telescopes in the world, officially started collecting scientific data at the end of last year. Since then, data has been smoothly ingested into the LOFAR Long-term Archive (LTA) designed and implemented by the Target consortium. The archive is a distributed storage with facilities in Groningen, Amsterdam and Julich, Germany. Target is currently improving the web services allowing scientists and astronomers around the world to access the data. These services are part of the Astro-WISE information system, developed by the Target partner OmegaCEN.
INCAS3 interested in the WISE technology
INCAS3, a independent research institute located in Assen, The Netherlands is exploring the potential benefits of using the WISE technology for one of its major projects, called Sensor City Sound project. Sensor City is an initiative of the Drenthe Province to create a wireless network of sensors around Assen that will allow for the development of interactive and intelligent applications rendering Assen one of the "smart" cities in the Netherlands. The Sensor City Sound project aims at collecting and analysing massive volumes of sound data that will be used to determine the effect of city noise created by various sources on the general population. The WISE technology can be particularly useful in the storage, processing and analysis of these data. Last month, Target Holding organized a one day workshop on WISE for the INCAS3 research group working on the Sensor City Sound project.
Target Holding is developing the Scratch4All as a web service
Scratch4All is part of an ongoing research initiative calls CATCHPlus that explores the use of software and ICT tools for scanning, reading and sharing of historical documents, which are part of the Dutch cultural heritage. Target Holding is currently refining the access tools and improving the reliability of the service in order to create a software product that can be easily used by research institutions or launched as a market product.
Astro-WISE system and its applications featured in a special topical issue of Experimental Astronomy
This January, the bi-monthly Springer journal Experimental Astronomy published a topical issue on the Astro-WISE information system, developed and maintained by the OmegaCEN group, one of the main partners in the Target project. The fundamental concepts for data management and processing laid down for Astro-WISE constitute the foundation principles on which the Target-developed WISE technology lies. Read more>>
Target Holding announces officially the start of four new spin-offs
The Target partner, Target Holding announced with a press release at the end of this month the successful start up of four new businesses as spin-offs of the Target knowledge and expertise. The businesses will offer innovative IT applications for entertainment industries, e-health and internet maps.
NASA officially joins the Euclid space mission of ESA
The big family of scientists and institutions that comprise the Euclid consortium will grow a bit bigger after NASA, the US National Aeronautics and Space Agency decided to join the ambitious project that aims at solving important mysteries about the nature of dark matter and dark energy. The mission will send out a 1.2m telescope equipped with instruments operating in the near-infrared and visible portion of the spectrum. These instruments will collect electromagnetic radiation from about two billion galaxies and the data will be used to infer their shape, brightness, distance and 3D distribution. Using advanced astronomical techniques, scientists will then try to study the origin and behavior of dark matter and dark energy - an important link in understanding the cosmological evolution of the Universe.
After signing a memorandum earlier this month, NASA will provide the man power and technology for twenty detectors for the near-infrared instrument. Forty of NASA's scientists also joined the Euclid consortium whose numbers currently stand at more than a thousand scientists from thirteen European organizations and the USA. Target is a partner in the Euclid consortium, more specifically in the Science Ground Segment which is responsible for the development and implementation of the Euclid Mission Archive - a distributed archive that will host all data from the mission and provide access to it to scientists and researchers from all over the world. Read more>>
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