Promoting open science through the Swedish COVID-19 & Pandemic Preparedness Portal: a central part of SciLifeLab’s PLP-program
The open sharing of data and code, data reuse, and global collaborations have all been central in accelerating COVID-19 research and in mitigating the effects of the pandemic. The Swedish COVID-19 Data Portal, an online platform for open data sharing, was launched in June 2020 and has played an important role ever since. In 2022, the Portal became one of the pillars of the SciLifeLab Pandemic Laboratory Preparedness (PLP) Program.
The PLP program was established using governmental funding and is part of the effort by the Swedish government to ensure readiness for future pandemics. The Portal has now been formally relaunched as the ‘COVID-19 & Pandemic Preparedness Portal’. The change in title reflects an expansion in the scope of the Portal from a sole focus on COVID-19, to pandemic preparedness in general. The Portal will thus collate and promote resources, data, and information that could help tackle future outbreaks and pandemics. The portal is also important to the Data Driven Life Science (DDLS) Program and serves as a preview on what DDLS hopes to promote at the national level across different research areas.
SciLifeLab was commissioned by the government (Research proposition Prop. 202/21:60) to build laboratory capacities to be able to support society in future pandemic efforts. The Pandemic Laboratory Preparedness (PLP) program (2021-2024, in total 130 MSEK) which focuses on research, competence, and technology development now comprises a national network of 21 projects (including both technology development and general research projects) from all over Sweden. As a new central part of the PLP Program, the Portal provides systems and services, for example, customized data services or visualization of complex data. The aim is to make data and other resources more accessible for use or reuse.
The data sharing via the portal can lead to greater collaboration and increased confidence in data and reproducibility of findings. The Portal also provides visibility of recent and ongoing research as a “window towards the research community”. It is hoped that the Portal will not only be a hub for pandemic preparedness research in Sweden, but that it will also be used by researchers globally, as well as by the wider public.
“We are now working actively with the integration of all parts in the PLP program, with each other and with the infrastructure platforms within SciLifeLab. The Portal and the portal team play essential roles in this process”, says Prof. Staffan Svärd, Scientific Lead of the PLP program
At its launch on 3rd June 2020, the Swedish COVID-19 portal became the first national portal in the European network of COVID-19 Data Portals. The overall response to the Portal has been very positive, with over 75,000 users since launch (with around 200 unique visits daily, as of August 2022). It has received considerable attention from healthcare, research institutions, and the wider public in Sweden and elsewhere in the world.
The scope of the Portal was expanded when it became part of the PLP program in 2022, and the focus shifted from ‘COVID-19’ to a broader perspective on pandemic preparedness. Multiple new features that relate to general pandemic preparedness have already been developed. For example, the new Pandemic preparedness resources section showcases the capabilities built within the PLP network, and our Emerging Pathogens section brings attention to novel pathogens and health threats. New features and relevant sections/topics will continue to be added regularly over time. However, it is important to note that it will also maintain existing resources related to COVID-19, as those are likely to be of vital importance in future pandemic preparedness.
A vital part of the next phase for the Portal will be: I) increased engagement with the research community, such as working more closely with international collaborations on pandemic preparedness, II) attending PLP program events and III) creating an expanding contacts and partnerships. In addition, the research community is asked to contribute content directly. This effort will include the establishment of an Editorial Committee.
“We are excited about the plan to set-up an Editorial Committee for the COVID-19 & Pandemic Preparedness Portal. The Committee will comprise of early career stage researchers that will act as a bridge between the Portal and research in their respective fields. The committee will work with the Portal team to develop new and existing pandemic preparedness content.”, says Johan Rung, Head of SciLifeLab Data Centre.
The Portal will continue to ensure that the services, tools, and other resources are as open as possible and adhere to the FAIR data principles. In line with this, all Portal source code, including those developed for visualizations and other custom features, have always been openly available on GitHub. This has facilitated the establishment of other National COVID-19 Data Portals. The hope is that the available code will be reused by others when developing new pandemic preparedness resources, or when transitioning existing resources to a more general pandemic preparedness focus.
Read more about SciLifeLab Pandemic Preparedness efforts and the PLP network https://www.scilifelab.se/capabilities/pandemic-laboratory-preparedness/
Visit the re-launched Swedish COVID-19 & Pandemic Preparedness Portal at https://www.covid19dataportal.se
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