BCube: Approach


BCube diagram

In the EarthCube Program Solicitation, NSF 13­529, awards such as BCube must involve deep engagement and participation of academic geosciences research community end­users in the development of project outcomes.

The BCube project is maturing a Brokering Framework that addresses the social, technical and organizational aspects of cyberinfrastructure development. In addition, it identifies best practices in both technical and cultural contexts with respect to the Broker engagement for effective cross­disciplinary collaborations. The engagement includes a number of different communities at significant levels in guiding and testing the development, with emphasis on geoscientists. The result is a deep engagement of scientists in the entire process.


The BCube uses a progressive, multi-phase approach, which combines the following items and fosters deep engagement within the involved communities:

  • The starting point for the BCube infrastructure development is the Brokering Framework studied under an earlier NSF EarthCube EAGER grant, and the NSIDC crawler module prototyped with NSF and NASA funding. The development of the Broker and Crawler are evolutionary. Various components are introduced into the Framework when they have sufficient maturity and stability to be useful to science users. Both Broker and Crawler components will be matured to meet the needs of the scientific community, as expressed in science driven scenarios.

  • BCube geoscientists are defining scenarios which will guide the project according to three phases.

Phase 1: a science scenario in each domain focuses on the scientists’ own research area

Phase 2: involves collaboration on scenarios within a domain, bringing together multiple specialties 

Phase 3: a single science scenario involving collaborations across the four participating domains that will enable truly cross-domain assessment of BCube brokering

  • A multi-disciplinary agile team is convened for each scenario; the team investigates the ability of the BCube infrastructure modules and associated tools to meet the identified needs to the satisfaction of the scientists.
  • As BCube scientists become comfortable with the evolving infrastructure, they reach out to colleagues within their own community and encourage them to experiment with the new capabilities, thus broadening the deep engagement.
    • Captured metrics will document the effectiveness of the cyberinfrastructure for the user
    • Quantitative monitoring is performed on the testbed by the BCube software
    • BCube social scientists collect qualitative metrics working with geoscientists
  • Educators participate in the development of user scenarios that are appropriate for education of first and second year undergraduates.

Testing of the Broker Framework in an international environment will also be conducted with geosciences data from major international repositories. A broker interest group within the Research Data Alliance provides an international forum for broader BCube dialog and collaboration.