. 24/7 Space News .
Will moving to the commercial cloud leave some data users behind?
by Staff Writers
Atlanta GA (SPX) Feb 08, 2019

Georgia Tech assistant professor Mariel Borowitz is shown with satellite communications equipment. Dramatic growth in the generation and collection of data will change the way federal agencies make data available.

As part of their missions, federal agencies generate or collect massive volumes of data from such sources as earth-observing satellites, sensor networks and genomics research. Much of that information is useful to commercial and academic institutions, which now can usually access this publicly-generated data from agency servers at no charge.

But as the volume of data continues to expand, many agencies are considering the use of commercial cloud services to help store and make it available to users. While agencies may have different strategies, these new partnerships could result in user fees levied on downloads and analyses performed on the data while it remains in the cloud.

Writing in a policy forum article published February 8 in the journal Science, a Georgia Institute of Technology space policy researcher who studies such data use urges caution about the design of these commercial cloud partnerships and possible imposition of user fees.

"Under the current system, free and open government data is used by scientists to conduct research, by entrepreneurs to create new businesses, and by citizens and other organizations to promote government transparency," said Mariel Borowitz, an assistant professor in Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. "If users must pay fees to download or analyze the data, this will decrease the ability of these users to access and work with data. Past experience suggest that the impacts of this decrease in data use could be large - both for individual users and for society as a whole."

Moving data to commercial cloud systems would likely provide broader access and more efficient analysis options, but she cautions those advantages could be offset by the cost, particularly for organizations with small budgets.

"Agencies risk losing some of the benefits of this transition by not budgeting for the costs associated with data downloads and analysis, up to a reasonable level," Borowitz said. "Many who would be interested in using the data may not be able to pay the associated fees. Researchers, nonprofit organizations and others who do not directly profit from the use of this data are most likely to be affected."

Borowitz recently spent two years at NASA and witnessed both the development of systems that will dramatically increase data collection and debates about future data storage. She recently authored a book, Open Space: The Global Effort for Open Access to Environmental Satellite Data, published by MIT Press.

She would like to see the agencies that provide data continue to shoulder the costs, up to some "reasonable level," to ensure that the data continues to be readily available to all users. As an alternative to commercial services, some agencies are considering development of their own, custom-built cloud solutions, and will have to weigh the cost of benefits of the different options. There will also be technical, organizational and policy issues to consider.

"Agencies are taking seriously issues of security and long-term preservation of data," Borowitz added. "When working with commercial providers, some are concerned about the possibility of getting 'locked in' to one provider, due to the large costs of migrating data from one system to another. It is possible that costs and capabilities could change over time. On the other hand, commercial cloud providers have large workforces and extensive infrastructure that allow them to provide services and capabilities well beyond what any one agency would be able to maintain."

Borowitz notes that most agencies have not made final decisions about their cloud-based programs, so there should be adequate time to work through these issues.

"Most agencies that make data publicly available, particularly science agencies, are already discussing and/or beginning to make the transition to cloud systems," she said. "However, these programs - at agencies like NSF, NIH, NASA and NOAA - are still in their early phases, and there is still opportunity for feedback to be provided and adjustments to the programs to be made."

The existence of fees for access to government data is not without precedent, but Borowitz argues that past experience suggests that user fees result in significantly less use. Before Landsat data - satellite imagery of Earth - was made freely available in 2008, no more than 25,000 images a year were purchased from the collection. "Within a few years of implementing the free and open data policy, the government was distributing 250,000 images a month," she said.

That number provides a suggestion of what the often cash-strapped agencies are dealing with. According to the paper, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) houses more than 100 petabytes (PB) of data and generates more than 30 PB per year from satellites, radars, computer models and other sources. NASA projects that its archive will grow to 250 PB by 2025. And the amount of genomic data at the National Institutes of Health is growing exponentially.

A petabyte is 1,024 terabytes, or a million gigabytes. A gigabyte is 1,024 megabtyes. For scale, an average photograph taken by a high-end cell phone camera can be in the neighborhood of 10 megabytes. Laptop computers may be able to store as much as a few terabytes of data.

Borowitz sees the transition to cloud computing as both an opportunity and a challenge for the future availability of government data. "The decisions being made right now about the structure of these programs have the potential to significantly impact researchers and society as a whole, so it is important to raise awareness and increase engagement on these issues."

Research Report: "Government data, commercial cloud: Will public access suffer?"

Related Links
Georgia Institute of Technology
Space Technology News - Applications and Research

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

Machine-learning code sorts through telescope data
Berkeley CA (SPX) Jan 28, 2019
A new telescope will take a sequence of hi-res snapshots with the world's largest digital camera, covering the entire visible night sky every few days - and repeating the process for an entire decade. That presents a big data challenge: What's the best way to rapidly and automatically identify and categorize all of the stars, galaxies, and other objects captured in these images? To help solve this problem, the scientific collaboration that is working on this Large Synoptic Survey Telescope project ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

ISRO Unveils Human Space Flight Centre in Bengaluru

Waystation to the Solar System

Blue Origin to make 10th flight test of space tourist rocket

Duration of UAE Astronaut's Mission on Board ISS Reduced to 8 Days

China launched world's first rocket-deployed weather instruments from unmanned semi-submersible vehicle

The Future of Space Prospecting: Surprising Rocket Fuel Unveiled

NASA Completes Booster Motor Segments for First Space Launch System Flight

P120C solid rocket motor tested for use on Vega-C

What Can Curiosity Tell Us About How a Martian Mountain Formed

Research Uses Curiosity Rover to Measure Gravity on Mars

Curiosity Says Farewell to Mars' Vera Rubin Ridge

Mars Rover Curiosity Makes Gravity-Measuring Traverse

China to send over 50 spacecraft into space via over 30 launches in 2019

China to deepen lunar exploration: space expert

China launches Zhongxing-2D satellite

China welcomes world's scientists to collaborate in lunar exploration

OneWeb delays launch of satellites due to problems with Russian carrier rocket

Asgardia Micro-Nation to Launch 10,000 Satellites to Make Web Free

Thales Alenia Space and Maxar Consortium Achieve Major Milestone in Design Phase of Telesat's LEO Satellite Constellation

Swarm Raises 25M to build world's lowest-cost satellite network

3D printed tires and shoes that self-repair

Researchers use artificial neural networks to streamline materials testing

Observing hydrogen's effects in metal

Physicists take big step in nanolaser design

Where Is Earth's Submoon?

Planetary collision that formed the Moon made life possible on Earth

Astronomers find star material could be building block of life

Double star system flips planet-forming disk into pole position

New Horizons' Newest and Best-Yet View of Ultima Thule

Missing link in planet evolution found

Juno's Latest Flyby of Jupiter Captures Two Massive Storms

Outer Solar System Orbits Not Likely Caused by "Planet Nine"

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.