[open-science] Working Group on Open Data in Science

Andy Turner A.G.D.Turner at leeds.ac.uk
Fri May 27 11:49:46 UTC 2011

Hi Jonathan, open-science, NeISS, DSR,

Thanks for your reply and collaboration. We share research interests :-) I'll try to be brief. The research I am doing links with a great many things which my old School of Geography, University of Leeds blog is testament to in some respects[1,2]. I am aware of the Living Earth Simulator project and trying to establish liaison with the research scientists with a view to collaboration through the NeISS project and the Digital Social Research organisation which has evolved from the National Centre for e-Social Science in the UK [3,4]. I have copied this reply to their more closed lists to keep others in the loop and spur them into liaison and replying. Sorry if that complicates things for users of the open-science list.

The vision and grand challenges are to better understand where we are, where we came from and take hold of our destiny and shape our future - wisely developing and sustaining knowledge and life as we complicate things further!

There are small steps along the way, many paths and considerable movement as far as I am aware, although I expect there is a lot going on not in the open and that I have not managed to find out about... Nonetheless, the steps I am currently taking are with GENESIS and NeISS [5,3]. For GENESIS I have been developing social simulation models, and in NeISS I have been working to develop a sustainable e-Infrastructure for supporting others to use these models at a UK national level. There are essentially two embryonic models. One is a Demographic Simulation Model (DSM) that ticks on a daily time step and deals with birth and death (and is being developed to handle residential migration). The second is more like a Traffic Simulation Model (TSM) that ticks with shorter time steps (seconds). The idea is to unify these models in due course.

In terms of data, the models are not yet pulling in a large and varied input. The DSM can be started with small amounts of even made up data, and effectively input their output which can grow in size considerably. Work is progressing towards a UK national simulation which would have around 60 million entities representing individuals in the contemporary UK population [6]. Having not developed the TSM for over a year, I am now gearing up to a organising a refactoring of this. For the TSM I have preferred using Open Street Map to represent the transport infrastructure (sadly, there are no good references for my TSM that I can point you to).

Commercial companies, like retailers, transport, ICT and media companies, as well as data companies, have data that could underpin the types of models I want to develop. Government, public service and social survey research data is also wanted to feed the (baby) simulations models. There are too many barriers that are hard to get data through for linking all our data together at present, but I believe that in general things are moving in the right direction and that safely harnessing the data to help shape our destiny for the good of all gets closer...

This may seem like a mad preachers dream of harmony over catastrophe and if you read this far, well done, but it is! Bye for now, I'll get back to developing the program...

Oh BTW, Jonathan I don't think we've met in person, but Rufus did by coincidence introduce himself once on the train and we ended up having lunch together at the e-Science institute at a Web 2.0 impacts workshop. We were not and are not alone.



[1] http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/people/a.turner/a.turner.rdf.xml
[2] http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/people/a.turner/personal/blog
[3] http://www.neiss.org.uk
[4] http://www.digitalsocialresearch.net/
[5] http://www.geog.leeds.ac.uk/people/a.turner/projects/GENESIS
[6] Draft abstract for the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting 2011 http://portal.ncess.ac.uk/access/content/user/a.g.d.turner%40leeds.ac.uk/blog/AHM2011/NEISSAllHandsAbstract.pdf

-----Original Message-----
From: okfn.jonathan.gray at googlemail.com [mailto:okfn.jonathan.gray at googlemail.com] On Behalf Of Jonathan Gray
Sent: 27 May 2011 11:13
To: Andy Turner
Cc: open-science at lists.okfn.org
Subject: Re: [open-science] Working Group on Open Data in Science

Dear Andrew,

This sounds very interesting indeed. Do you have any further
information about the project? I'd love to hear more about what you're
doing and what (kinds of) sources of open data you're seeking, and
what datasets you're using. I wonder whether you'd consider creating a
group on CKAN [1] for the open datasets that you're using? (As a
personal aside: this kind of project is what got me talking to OKF
Co-Founder Rufus Pollock five or six years ago...)

Also are there any synergies with things like the Living Earth
Simulator project [2]?

All the best,


[1] http://ckan.net/group
[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12012082

On Fri, May 27, 2011 at 7:53 AM, Andy Turner <A.G.D.Turner at leeds.ac.uk> wrote:
> I am a researcher based at the University of Leeds and I've been lurking on the list for a shortwhile and catching up a bit by browsing the archive. My background is in computational geography and I am part of a collaborative effort trying to develop geographical simulation models with a focus on demography and socio-economics. The vision is to have a model of the world that we can use like a magical wizards crystal ball to understand our alternative futures and how we might make some more likely to come about than others. It could be argued to be a grand science challenge. I leave it deliberately vague and to your imaginations as to the various scales and foci of the simulation models and how they become unified. There are lots of small steps to this work and it has to be a large scale collaborative e-Science effort to make significant progress. Anyway, a major issue concerns data and the feeds of it into, around and out of the simulation models. That is why I am interested in the working group and collaborating via this list in particular. If you have similar interests, then please get in touch.
> I am trying my best to make things and keep them open, but inevitably, some of the data I use is not open. I am trying to keep a distinction between the two tracks of simulation model data, the open one and the other one. Still, I appreciate that open is not a black and white issue and there are shades of grey.
> Best wishes,
> Andy
> http://www.leeds.ac.uk/people/a.turner
> _______________________________________________
> open-science mailing list
> open-science at lists.okfn.org
> http://lists.okfn.org/mailman/listinfo/open-science

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation


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