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Wednesday 3 July 2013

NZ e-Infrastructures Panel #nzes

NZ e-Infrastructures Panel
Nick Jones, New Zealand eScience Infrastructure
Steve Cotter, REANNZ
Andrew Rohl, Curtin University, ex ED iVEC
Tony Lough, NZ Genomics Ltd
Don Smith, NZ Synchrotron Group Ltd
Rhys Francis, eResearch Coordination Project

How we doing and how can we work better with Australia?
* NJ: Have been working closer recently, but big gaps in data especially, and unevenness in various disciplines.
* SC: Working to identify gaps and work across organisations. REANNZ working closer with AARnet than have in the past which is bearing fruit re bandwidth.
* Political overlay - need to be able to say we've got the scientific partnership working.
* RF: Fair amount of partnership. But have found that governance separates things. "I don't believe in uninterpreted data." Need to figure out combo of data and tools to get results.
* Plenty of opportunity to work with Australia. Useful to look at infrastructures and what they've done right and haven't done right - lessons to be learn.
* AR: Problems faced here are not unique so you can avoid our mistakes and make your own instead. :-)

National Science Challenge signals government would like to roll framework out further. How do researchers engage with this?
* NJ: At many workshops people already know what they want to work on; at others there's range of possibilities. Need to build networks so not everyone has to be at table.
* RF: eResearch and IT isn't mentioned in challenges - but these are embedded in everything. If you want to be world-class at X, you need to be good at computer science.

How would you benchmark and measure return on investment?
* AR: Instance where in early days govt felt that if people wanted to keep investing, it must be valuable. This is changing now that investments are bigger. Hesitant about benchmarking because don't really want to be doing the same as anyone else.
* RF: How do you go from 0 to world's best supercomputer overnight? No idea how to measure that. It's a commitment to the advancement of knowledge but the govt doesn't have a KPI about that...

NZ had to set up Tuakiri because differences in law meant we couldn't use Australia's system. What other things the two countries might have to do to overcome differences in legislation?
* (Other audience member) - Yes there are differences so have needed to build systems that deal with both privacy acts and have been successful.
* (Anne Berryman) - Have started conversation with counterparts overseas and chief science advisors in Aus/NZ have a line of communication. There are platforms and issues we can deal with.

One goal is to achieve self-sustainability, eg user charging, member contributions. What's the Australian experience in user-pays and sustainability?
* RF: Financial benefits are overwhelming. If went to commercial provider it'd cost more and do less. Sustainability needs constant flow of funds to keep supercomputing running. There is a sustainability cliff. Govt keeps putting money in.
* SC: MBIE have removed self-sustainability requirement. Charging to make sure researchers have skin in the game does prove that service is needed; but not everyone can participate who should be.