February 2006
International Cyberinfrastructure: Activities Around the Globe
Masao Sakauchi, Shigeki Yamada, Noboru Sonehara, Shigeo Urushidani, Jun Adachi, Kazunobu Konishi, National Institute of Informatics (NII), Tokyo, Japan
Satoshi Matuoka, Tokyo Institute of Technology / NII

1. Introduction

The Cyber Science Infrastructure (CSI) is a new comprehensive framework in which Japanese universities and research institutions are collaboratively constructing an information technology (IT) based environment to boost scientific research and education activities. Various initiatives are reorganized and included in CSI, such as the national research grid initiative, the university PKI and authentication system initiative, and the academic digital contents projects, as well as the project for a next-generation high-speed network. CSI was launched in late 2004 as a collaborative effort of leading universities, research institutions, and the National Institute of Informatics (NII).

NII is an interuniversity research institution that was established in April 2000 to conduct comprehensive research on informatics; it is the only academic research institution dedicated to informatics and IT. The Institute also been assigned a pivotal role in developing a scientific information and networking infrastructure for Japan. Therefore, NII also has a service operation arm for networking and providing scholarly information. NII puts priority on developing cutting-edge technologies for networks and information services and maintaining an infrastructure that will improve the networking and information environment of Japanese universities and research institutions.

In this article, we describe the current CSI activities being coordinated by NII as a collaborative effort with Japanese universities and research institutions.

2. Cyber Science Infrastructure as Next-generation Academic Information Environment

For more than 20 years, NII and its predecessor institution, NACSIS, have provided a network and information service infrastructure for Japanese universities and research institutions, with the budgetary support of Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). In this undertaking, NII is responsible for planning a better information environment and being a coordinator that can meet the diverse expectations of research communities and higher education institutions.
After the corporatization of Japanese national universities in April 2004, which significantly impacted research and educational communities and brought about the transformation of university administration systems, NII began a new network coordination initiative with leading universities and research communities that were shifting towards IT-based research. NII believes that some sort of core body is necessary to lead an initiative that deals with issues shared by many research and educational institutions. In addition to the network coordination, it considers the following three goals to be urgent for the Japanese research community:

  • Design and deployment of a next-generation high-speed network for research institutions and operation of this network as a stable information infrastructure for research and education activities,
  • Development of scholarly databases and digital libraries, enabling the dissemination of scholarly information from research institutions, and
  • Promotion of informatics research jointly undertaken with universities.

Accomplishing these goals is NII's most important mission, so NII has integrated its activities for developing information infrastructures into the Cyber Science Infrastructure (CSI) initiative, incorporating the prospect of cooperating with researchers outside NII who share these three goals. The executive organization for network planning and coordination was created by NII in early 2005. It identifies CSI as a joint initiative among universities and research institutions aimed at evolving the nation's scientific information infrastructure.

In 2005, the CSI initiative obtained support from MEXT and the Council for Science and Technology Policy of the Japanese government and emphasized CSI's importance as a national initiative by ensuring that NII's budget in the fiscal year 2006 would include funds for CSI. The executive framework for development and dissemination of scholarly information is also part of this initiative, as is the framework for network-related activities, which include the next-generation high-speed optical network, the national research grid initiative, and PKI implementation.

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Reference this article
Sakauchi, M., Yamada, S., Soneharu, N., Urushidani, S., Adachi, J., Konishi, K., Matuoka, S. "Cyber Science Infrastructure Initiative for Boosting Japan's Scientific Research," CTWatch Quarterly, Volume 2, Number 1, February 2006. http://www.ctwatch.org/quarterly/articles/2006/02/cyber-science-infrastructure-initiative-for-boosting-japans-scientific-research/

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