About the RING
The CIARD Routemap to Information Nodes and Gateways (RING) is a project implemented within the Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) initiative and is led by the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR).
The RING is a global directory of web-based information services and datasets for agricultural research for development (ARD). It is the principal tool created through the CIARD initiative to allow information providers to register their services and datasets in various categories and so facilitate the discovery of sources of agriculture-related information across the world.
The RING aims to provide an infrastructure to improve the accessibility of the outputs of agricultural research and of information relevant to ARD management.
Functions of the RING
- to provide a map of accessible information sources with instructions on how they can be used effectively;
- to provide a dataset sharing platform for agriculture;
- to provide examples of services that show good practices on implementing “interoperability”;
- to clarify the level and mode of interoperability of information sources;
- to provide instructions for building enhanced integrated services that repackage information in different ways.
This makes the RING a real “routemap” that guides the user in discovering, accessing and exploiting the existing information sources.
Who uses the RING?
The RING is designed mainly for:
- agricultural information professionals and website developers looking for interoperable data sources and information services;
- data scientists looking for datasets that can be processed.
It can also serve consumers of agricultural information as a “bookmark” list of agricultural information services.
Benefits of using the RING
- it allows data providers to publicize their services and datasets by registering them;
- it provides technical metadata on information sources that enable providers of integrated services to discover, access and re-use the data.
The way forward
The CIARD partners intend that the RING will become the principal global technical platform for accessing, sharing and exchanging datasets.
Phase 1: the Registry
The first phase, launched in November 2009, comprised the development of the directory. Institutions were encouraged to register and describe their current publicly accessible information sources and services.
The metadata that are so collected:
- allow categorization and interlinking of services according to specific criteria e.g. standards adopted, vocabulary used, technology used, protocols implemented, level of interoperability etc.: these criteria have been developed within the Content Management Task Force (CMTF) of the Coherence in Information for Agricultural Research for Development (CIARD) initiative and are in line with the CIARD Manifesto and Checklist;
- provide detailed instructions on how the featured services can be 'interoperated';
- allow Information professionals and web developers to exploit information in the RING to build advanced services that tap into the registered services.
Phase 2: leveraging the RING Registry to build advanced services
This phase started in 2013 under the agINFRA project and is still going on. It aims at leveraging the metadata about dataset interoperability in the RING to support other information systems automatically.
This requires the adoption of a more advanced data model, based on the Data Catalogue Vocabulary (DCAT), recommended by the W3C for describing datasets, as well as a new campaign to invite data providers to share more accurate technical information about their datasets.
Once the descriptions collected about services are detailed and structured enough, and once the number of registered data sources is sufficiently large, some advanced services can be built directly on the content of the RING website. Examples of such services are:
- a global harvester of all registered providers of Open Archives;
- a viewer / navigator for registered RDF stores;
- thematic aggregators that harvest from registered RSS feeds;
- mash-ups integrating heterogeneous data from different sources.