Labs Workbench: A Scalable Platform for Research Data Access, Education, and Training

The growing size and complexity of high-value scientific datasets are pushing the boundaries of traditional models of data access and discovery. Many large datasets are only accessible through the systems on which they were created or require specialized software or computational resources.

Labs Workbench is a scalable, web-based platform intended to support turn-key deployment of encapsulated data management and analysis tools to support exploratory analysis and development near research datasets. The Labs Workbench platform has also been effectively used to support workshop/training and hackathon environments. See the use cases below for more examples.

Interested in Labs Workbench? See our Hosting Workbench services for more information.

Use Cases

Below are a few examples of how the Labs Workbench platform is being used to support access to research data as well education, and training environments. For more information, see the Projects and Pilots page.

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Labs Workbench public beta

The Labs Workbench public beta is an instance of the Labs Workbench platform used to provide access to a variety of data management tools and services to the NDSC and Research Data Alliance (RDA) communities. Users of this service can:

  • Discover available data management tools and services
  • Compare/evaluate various technologies
  • Deploy test instances
  • Cloud-based development
  • Publish/share your tools for others to discover

You can request access to the Workbench by registering for an account. See the User's Guide for information about how to use the system.


TERRA-REF Analysis Workbench

The TERRA-REF Analysis Workbench is an instance of the Labs Workbench platform enabling remote, interactive access to the a petascale reference dataset via consistent environments with complex software dependencies. Environments include Jupyter, RStudio, Python IDEs, as well as web-based access to X-Windows applications for visualization of NetCDF and GIS data.


National Bridge Infrastructure (NBI) Database

In cooperation with the Midwest Big Data Hub (MBDH) and the Bridging Big Data initiative, NDS is piloting hosting an active database of National Bridge Infrastructure (NBI) data along with sample Jupyter analysis environments to accelerate bridge health research.

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ThinkChicago Civic Tech Challenge

The ThinkChicago Civic Tech Challenge engaged participants to propose innovative ways to address challenges related to urban sustainability, transportation and civic engagement. The Labs Workbench Platform was used to enable participants to quickly and easily access shared city datasets along with analysis and development software.

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Einstein Toolkit School

NDS is piloting an instance of the Labs Workbench platform to facilitate training and education of researchers using the Einstein Toolkit software for relativistic astrophysics. Users are able to run through a set of tutorials demonstrating the use of the Einstein Toolkit. Labs Workbench was also used as part of the 2017 Einstein Toolkit School and Workshop.