Linda Nordling

Cape Town — South Africa is spearheading activities to collect and curate research data about the African continent in an effort to shrug off its data-poor image.

fibre opticA prototype of the World Data Centre on Biodiversity and Human Health in Africa was presented at The Committee on Data for Science and Technology’s (CODATA) international conference in Cape Town recently.

The data centre, due to be launched early next year, will join the ranks of more than 50 world data centres – most of which are located in the United States, Europe and East Asia – which collect data in subjects like astronomy, geomagnetism and solar activity. The centres are currently being integrated into an overarching World Data Service.

Data on biodiversity and health in Africa is currently scattered around the world. The new centre aims to collect all this data into a single, online, resource that could be useful for African policymakers.

It will help researchers identify gaps in existing data and find historical data to compare to new findings, said Wim Hugo, a data expert from the South African Environmental Observation Network and one of the centre’s architects.

Users will also be able to layer different sets of data on top of one another, he said. For example, researchers could be able to call up a map of climate change projections (e.g. rainfall, temperature) and then the data on mosquito populations to get an idea of where mosquitoes are likely to be affected by climate change.

South Africa is also taking the lead in other data-gathering efforts. Last month, the US NASA space agency sent more than 30 terabytes (30,000 gigabytes) of free Earth science satellite data to South African researchers to support sustainable development and environmental applications.

Source:scidev.net/en/    Image: africanincubatornetwork

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