Dawn J. Wrighta, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University, and
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1103051108 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences April 5, 2011 vol. 108 no. 14 5488-5491
Abstract: Cyberinfrastructure integrates advanced computer, information, and communication technologies to empower computation-based and data-driven scientific practice and improve the synthesis and analysis of scientific data in a collaborative and shared fashion. As such, it now represents a paradigm shift in scientific research that has facilitated easy access to computational utilities and streamlined collaboration across distance and disciplines, thereby enabling scientific breakthroughs to be reached more quickly and efficiently. Spatial cyberinfrastructure seeks to resolve longstanding complex problems of handling and analyzing massive and heterogeneous spatial datasets as well as the necessity and benefits of sharing spatial data flexibly and securely. This article provides an overview and potential future directions of spatial cyberinfrastructure. The remaining four articles of the special feature are introduced and situated in the context of providing empirical examples of how spatial cyberinfrastructure is extending and enhancing scientific practice for improved synthesis and analysis of both physical and social science data. The primary focus of the articles is spatial analyses using distributed and high-performance computing, sensor networks, and other advanced information technology capabilities to transform massive spatial datasets into insights and knowledge.