Srce DEI 2024 Conference Held

19. 4. 2024.

Continuous Collaboration and Community Focus as Competitive Advantage of SRCE Academic Cloud

(Zagreb, April 19, 2024) The SRCE DEI 2024 Conference was held on April 16, 18, and 19, organized by the University Computing Centre of the University of Zagreb (SRCE) in collaboration with the University of Zagreb. This year's conference was supported by the Ministry of Science and Education, the Rector's Conference of the Republic of Croatia, and the City of Zagreb. The conference gathered over 400 participants from the scientific and higher education system, public administration, economy, and abroad.

The conference was inaugurated with a welcoming speech by SRCE Director Ivan Marić, who emphasized, "SRCE is dedicated to serving the scientific and academic community by building systems and digital services, thus creating a competitive advantage for the academic cloud of SRCE. The SRCE DEI Conference is a place where we gather all stakeholders from our community and engage in dialogue with them about further improving SRCE services and the digital transformation of the scientific and higher education systems. Encouraging a culture of sharing, which is a prerequisite for utilizing common e-infrastructure and achieving open science and education, plays a significant role. To achieve progress, communication and community engagement activities are held throughout the year as part of SRCE's community program."

Representing the co-organizer, the University of Zagreb, Prof. Dr. Tomislav Bolanča, Vice-Rector for Business and Digitalization, addressed the audience, highlighting the importance of SRCE as an infrastructure institution not only for the University of Zagreb but for the entire scientific and higher education community in Croatia. He stressed the necessity of collaboration between SRCE and all stakeholders in the academic and scientific community to collectively advance not only in science and education but also in society as a whole.

In the welcoming speech on behalf of the Ministry of Science and Education, Dr. Hrvoje Meštrić, Director of the Science and Technology Directorate, praised the SRCE DEI conference as a platform where national policies and their implementation regarding e-infrastructures, open science, and research data are brought closer to the community. He mentioned numerous programs through which the Ministry and the Government of the Republic of Croatia finance the further advancement of Croatian science, emphasizing the significant importance of enabling the commercialization of science and strengthening the connection between science and the economy. In the field of promoting open science, he announced the imminent publication of guidelines for open science, which will promote the principles and values of open science and enable more efficient research, better dissemination of knowledge, and the application of new knowledge in practice.

The keynote lecture "Hydrometeorological Services and Next-Generation Services: From Early Warning to Climate Neutrality" was delivered by Dr. Ivan Güttler, Chief Executive Officer of the State Hydrometeorological Service, who spoke about monitoring, measuring, and analyzing meteorological situations, weather warnings, and technologies, primarily AI, increasingly used in meteorology. He explained the importance of collecting large amounts of data that need to be publicly available and accessible for quick processing and interpretation to create timely warnings and forecasts. He emphasized that their data is also used by numerous users in the economy for studies, development strategies, and long-term planning needs. Supercomputers and advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence play a significant role in all of this. He emphasized that in the near future, forecasts using artificial intelligence will become a reality because they not only have fewer errors but are also produced a thousand times faster and consume much less energy compared to conventional forecasts. The collaboration between SRCE and the State Hydrometeorological Service has been successful for many years, and such meetings further strengthen it.

This was followed by a panel discussion on "Research Data - How to Harness Their Full Potential?" during which panelists discussed the challenges faced by scientists in their work, including data generation, collection, and processing, ensuring their quality, as well as the necessity of defining conditions for public data exchange and opening. In their work, they utilize supercomputing resources, repositories, and storage systems provided by SRCE. However, what presents a significant challenge for them is the structured management of this data. They agreed that the support of specialized data management experts in institutions is becoming necessary. Ensuring such support requires long-term and strategic planning by the entire community, from research institutions to policymakers, to secure the necessary resources. As a national provider of e-infrastructure with a range of services for researchers and institutions, SRCE is ready to respond to all challenges brought by modern science and research. Panel participants unanimously agreed that the quality of data is of paramount importance, and by generating quality data, storing and opening them for further use, and promoting the development of a culture of sharing and openness, we create the prerequisites for further intensive application of advanced technologies in science and the advancement and strengthening of Croatian science as a whole. Collaboration with the public sector and the economy also contributes to the fulfillment of the third mission of the University.

The second invited lecture "Artificial Intelligence in Education: Making Students Matter" was delivered by Professor Denise Whitelock, during which she explained how intelligent teaching systems and personalized feedback mechanisms can be improved using artificial intelligence to encourage greater student engagement and achieve better learning outcomes, ultimately resulting in a more efficient and effective educational environment. She also pointed out the ethical issues and biases associated with artificial intelligence but also showcased positive examples of using artificial intelligence in designing and creating teaching materials, emphasizing the need for high-quality and verified data in this process, and the importance of final quality control by teachers.

In the first part of the EOSC tripartite meetings, the current state of open science in Croatia, the results of the Croatian Open Science Cloud initiative, and the results of the work of all stakeholders in open science were presented. The announced national guidelines for open science will further align Croatian science with European standards and necessitate changes in promotion criteria, which will encourage our scientists and researchers to apply open science principles in their daily work. Representatives of the European Commission and the EOSC Association presented plans for further development of EOSC focused on creating and interconnecting EOSC nodes that can be institutional, national, and regional. These nodes will enable greater visibility of services and resources, greater interoperability, and better utilization of research data. In the second part of the EOSC tripartite meeting, participants discussed the skills and competencies of scientists and researchers needed for the applicatio

n and development of open science and the utilization of all its benefits. The importance of data literacy, quality data management, and the generation and sharing of open and reliable data were emphasized. Partners from Slovenia presented the national SPOZNAJ project aimed at educating and building a network of data professionals at public institutions and universities.

Throughout the three days, six thematic blocks were held: "Brave New World - Are We Ready for New Types of Cyber Threats and Attacks", "Supercomputers in Research and Education: How Can SRCE Help You?", "Scientific Publishing and Good Editorial Practices", "European Universities - UNIC Alliance", "Digitalization of Higher Education - e-University Project", and "Innovation of the Educational Process Using AI Technologies". Additionally, more than twenty workshops were conducted, and attendees had the opportunity to see more than thirty poster presentations.

Photos from the Srce DEI 2024 conference are available on Flickr.