BlueBRIDGE services are operated through Virtual Research Environments (VREs).
Virtual Research Environments are systems that provide researchers and research teams, educators, SMEs, and any other type of user - from different disciplines, institutions, or even countries - with a web-based set of facilities including services, data, and computational facilities. These systems can provide seamless access to the evolving wealth of resources (datasets, services, computing) - usually spread across many providers including e-Infrastructures - needed for a research activity. In terms of content, they potentially support the entire research process, covering open science practices such as sharing, publishing, and reproducing comprehensive research activities; giving access to research products while scientists are working with them; automatically generating provenance; capturing accounting; managing quota; supporting new forms of transparent peer-reviews and collaborations by social networking. These services and tools can also support the development of new research methods and topics. The facilities provided by a VRE are tailored to serve the needs of a specific Community of Practice. The term Community of Practice refers to a set of individuals (they do not necessarily need to be formal structures such as departments or project teams) who decide to “virtually” connect to solve a specific problem. (More on VREs)
The key distinguishing features of a VRE are:
- It is a web-based working environment
- It is tailored to serve the needs of a Community of Practice
- It is expected to provide a Community of Practice with the whole array of commodities needed to accomplish the community’s goal(s)
- It is open and flexible with respect to the overall service offering and lifetime
- It promotes fine-grained controlled sharing of both intermediate and final research results by guaranteeing ownership, provenance, and attribution.
The BlueBRIDGE VREs are built on the D4Science infrastructure.
D4Science is a self-sustained hybrid data infrastructure executing around 60,000 models & algorithms per month and providing access to over a billion records hosted in more than 50 worldwide repositories. Currently, D4Science serves over 2,700 users from multiple scientific domains (e.g. fisheries, biodiversity, ocean observation, etc.). The added value of D4Science is that it is a framework in which infrastructure resources (e.g. data and services) made available by different data infrastructures can be dynamically packaged to serve the needs associated with particular scientific or societal questions. All of this is completely transparent for the user.