LifeWatch PLUS is a PNO-IR project, designed to optimise the national biodiversity and ecosystem research community’s involvement within LifeWatch-ITA, reinforce the National Distributed Institute on Biodiversity Research, the heart of the Italian node of the infrastructure, and so to increase in both quantitative and qualitative terms the Italian contribution within LifeWatch ERIC.
LifeWatchPLUS is a National Research Council infrastructure project funded by the National Operational Programme for Research and Innovation (PON-RI) of the Ministry of University and Research (MUR), in partnership with the National Institute for Nuclear Physics, the University of Salento and the University of Bologna for the period 2019-2022.
The strategic objective of LifeWatchPLUS is to reinforce the Data Centre of LifeWatch-ITA and upgrade it to a National Hub for biodiversity and ecosystem data and research products as:
- The main access point to the resources of data, apps and eScience services for the management, aggregation, analysis, modelling and visualisation of data; and,
- A Virtual Research Centre for cataloguing and making available fully equipped virtual research environments for data-intense experimental studies on biodiversity and ecosystem key scientific challenges at all levels of the ecological hierarchy and scale.
LifeWatchPLUS will offer to the national scientific community an e-Science Hub and Research Centre on biodiversity and ecosystems unique for its characteristics and potentiality, reinforcing its international competitiveness and supporting better-informed conservation and sustainable utilisation policies for the impressive natural capital and resulting ecosystem services that characterise Italy in Europe.
The project has three main objectives:
- Reinforce and upgrade the hardware infrastructure of LifeWatch Italy’s Data Centre. This will be reorganized as a distributed interoperable data centre, supplying computational power and storage capacity for the national node, with thematically distributed nodes acting as hubs for databases of national interest (e.g. check lists on geo-spatial distribution and abundancy in Italy of vegetal and animal species, biotic and abiotic databases);
- Reinforce, upgrade and extend the tools and services available on the LifeWatch Italy and Service Centre web-portals to make available, aggregate, analyse and model within Virtual Research Environments data and big data of different origins and typology, whether they come from physical research infrastructures, observatories and observation systems of biodiversity and ecosystems, or from individual research groups.
- Reinforce the Citizen Science ICT platform, currently limited to a number of specific target groups. A radically renewed platform will be developed enabling the provision of services and knowledge, offering citizens direct access to multimedia assets and projects in this domain, and creating a civic platform to connect scientific research on biodiversity, functioning, services and ecological status of ecosystems, with citizen science. It will also be possible to address citizens’ requests for more knowledge on local and global issues of great social and economic relevance, such as the tracking of energy and transportation infrastructures, or how the spread of alien and invasive species (e.g. the Xylella bacterium) is threatening various national areas at different levels.
- Support the achievement of the LifeWatchPLUS project objectives reinforcing the human capital in a larger activity and temporal framework;
- Hire 24 additional staff members with different profiles (communication, management, ICT and scientific), 11 for a two-year period and 13 for a three-year period, through research fellowships and grants.