Web Observatory Project

Copyright University of Southampton

This project addresses the growing problem of enabling the sharing of research datasets within and between universities and research labs to support interdisciplinary, inter-institutional research. In particular, the Web offers us a rich set of information about human activity on-line. However, there are a number of barriers that prevent individuals and organisations from making the most of those data resources, including accessibility of datasets, comprehensive and shareable metadata, dataset identification and searching, access control and privileges, and analytics, to name but a few.

This project establishes a Web Observatory node at each WUN member university that enables (i) catalogue and sharing of resources (ii) discovery and access to resources in other WUN Web Observatory nodes (iii) discovery and access to resources across the network of Web Observatories, which is deployed under the auspices of the Web Science Trust. This provides standards and services that enable the sharing, discoverability and use of public or private datasets and analytics across existing and emergent Web Observatories around the world.

In order to demonstrate the value of the Web Observatory approach, this project initially focuses on four areas in which the Web Observatory can be applied to provide the WUN network with a rich set of resources and analytical toolkits to improve overall research capabilities:

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS): WUN members will be able to share resources about their MOOCS including datasets containing user interactions and communications, and visualisation tools to help understand how students participate.

Disaster Management: As a prominent topic, the Web Observatory will provide a platform to share datasets and toolkits related to research within urban and natural disasters.

Government as a Social Machine: the WUN network offers a fantastic opportunity to examine the Web Observatory in the context of Government as a Social Machine, where cross-institute, cross-Government analysis can be achieved by accessing an interconnected network of Observatories and datasets.

Young Citizens: The WUN Networking Young Citizens interdisciplinary group will use the Web Observatory infrastructure to extend current research on a global scale including areas such as: India, East Asia and Africa.

The outcome of this project will be to provide WUN members with a suitable framework to share datasets, analytics and visualisations, starting with three contexts areas that are currently popular areas of research within the WUN network.

Maastricht University - Dr Jerry Spanakis

University of Basel - Dr Alexander Groflin

University of Bristol - Dr Simon Price

University of Cape Town - Prof Hussein Suleman

University of Ghana - Prof Richard Boateng

University of Leeds - Prof Jie Xu, Prof Mark Birkin

University of Massachusetts Amherst - Ms Maxine Schmidt, Marilyn Billings

University of Nottingham - Dr Bridgette Wessels

University of Southampton - Prof Graeme Earl, Dr Thanassis Tiropanis, Dr Ramine Tinati, Ms Eleonora Gandolfi

University of York - Prof Brian Loader

University of Western Australia - Prof David Denemark

The Chinese University of Hong Kong - Prof Kelvin Tsoi

Public Health (Non-communicable Disease)

Understanding Cultures

Global Higher Education and Research

Responding to Climate Change