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Executive Director's report

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Ross WilkinsonBig Data – it's about people! We often hear about the data explosion, deluge, tsunami, and about gigabytes, petabytes and beyond. However, as we have seen over the last few issues in share, the value of data is measured in its use, and its usefulness often comes down to the people 'behind the scenes' who make it happen. The value of the data from the Hubble telescope was massively enhanced by the policy makers who required that the data be made available, and then by the data engineers who created the MAST Data Discovery Portal, and the data custodians who continue to ensure that quality data is made available.

What researchers need is not a tsunami of data but a well organised data irrigation system, providing the right data at the right time! So the people who make this system and ensure the right quality and flow are vital.

In this issue we celebrate the people behind the data. The people who make sure data are interoperable and that good vocabularies are in use; the people who help researchers craft data services that meet their specialist needs; the data librarians who understand how a well organised collection is a much more powerful research tool than a set of tables; the data experts delivering data services to a whole discipline; the data policy analysts who ensure sensitive data can still be reused; the data technologists who work closely with a research team to deliver reliable data products.

We have seen just how valuable a managed, connected, discoverable and reusable data collection can be. Let's celebrate those who turn torrents of data into paddy fields of research opportunity.

Ross Wilkinson
Executive Director, ANDS

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