NeIC at the EOSC Symposium 2023

The European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Symposium 2023 was held in Madrid, Spain, from 20 to 22 September 2023. Under the overarching theme “Taking EOSC into the future”, the event discussed the future of EOSC from several aspects. NeIC organised an unconference session as part of the Symposium. The session, Trust in Sharing Sensitive Data, focused on the governance and technical sides of working with sensitive data in a safe and ethical way. In particular, the session focused on Trusted Research Environments (TREs), the data governance and legal framework for lawful and ethical data sharing among them.

TREs enable researchers to have access to data and resources in a safe way. To establish safe and secure access and processing environments for sensitive data through the EOSC, a platform for federated access needs to be in place. This would enable a researcher in Country A, whose data is located and being analysed in a TRE-A, to enable a contributor in Country B, who is a user of TRE-B, to access the project data of researcher A by exchanging the electronic identity between TRE-B and TRE-A, based on a trust mechanism.

The session brought together experts from NeIC, Sigma2, SURF (the collaborative organisation for IT in Dutch education and research), EGI (European Grid Infrastructure), and BSC (Barcelona Supercomputing Center). Abdulrahman Azab, a project owner and senior advisor in NeIC’s executive team, acted as the session chair. One of the presenters was the chair of NeIC’s provider forum, Maria Francesca Iozzi, a senior manager and specialist in research infrastructures from Sigma2. Both have been working with sensitive data infrastructure through NeIC since 2014.

Azab and Iozzi presented the past and ongoing technical solutions for sensitive data archiving and processing in the Nordics, with special focus on the NeIC Tryggve projects, API-based user and data management by the Services for Sensitive Data at the University of Oslo (TSD), and the work by Sigma2 on the long data preservation. The presentations given by experts from BSC, EGI Foundation and SURF discussed the following related topics: the Federated EGA as a global federated resource for discovery and access of sensitive human omics and associated data; the Five Safes, EOSC and trusted research environments; and harmonising access procedures for sensitive data using a licence-based secure data access and sharing method. The session was wrapped up with a shared presentation between NeIC, Sigma2, and SURF. This presentation focused on the technical solutions for identity exchange and sharing sensitive data across borders. The final topic received special attention from the audience, who were more than 70 attendees including members of EOSC Association and the ELIXIR Hub.

NeIC being present and engaged in events like the EOSC Symposium 2023 allows for strengthening connections with existing EU collaborators and establishing new ones. Attending these events might also open new opportunities for future collaboration on research e-infrastructure.