The Committee on Data (CODATA) of the Paris-based International Science Council promotes open data policies, working to advance the interoperability and usability of research data. The Committee is committed to supporting FAIR data principles to improve the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets.
Within the CODATA organizational umbrella, Unidata software developer Steven Emmerson has joined the Digital Representation of Units of Measure (DRUM) Task Group, which aims to raise the profile of the digital representation of units of measure in research communities, representative and governing bodies, and with funders. DRUM takes the position that support for consistent digital representations of units of measurement is of far-reaching importance for science, technology, industry, and trade.
The DRUM Task Group summarizes the effort this way:
FAIR encapsulates some important principles to better enable computer-facilitated scientific discovery and large scale data analysis. Interoperability and Reusability depend fundamentally on standardised definitions and digital representations of units, as well as machine-referenceable conversions. This in turn requires the mobilisation and the input of the scientific community and the various domains represented by the International Scientific Unions and Associations (ISUs/ISAs).
DRUM aims to facilitate and coordinate the engagement of ISUs/ISAs with the issue and to develop greater understanding of the use of units in different domains and the issues around definition, digital representation, and conversion.
For deeper insight into the motivation for the DRUM Task Group, you can read their “manifesto:” Units of Measure for Humans and Machines: Making Units Clear for Machine Learning and Beyond
At Unidata, Emmerson is the primary developer of the UDUNITS software library, which supports arithmetic manipulation of units of physical quantities and conversion of numeric values between compatible units. He was invited to join the DRUM group in early 2021, and has begun to take part in the group’s meetings and other activities, one of which is a “Survey on the Use of Units in Scientific Domains.”
The survey aims to help the group better understand the existing practices and needs with relation to use of units in different scientific domains. To provide your input to the DRUM Task Group, take the survey: