Helmholtz-Data Federation (HDF)

The Helmholtz Data Federation HDF is a strategic initiative of the Helmholtz Association addressing one of the great challenges of the next decade: Dealing with the avalanche of data created in science, in particular by the large research infrastructures of the Helmholtz Centers.

The HDF addresses several of the recommendations in the final report published by a High Level Expert Group on Scientific Data of the European Commission, e.g.:

  • Transparent and seamless possibilities for data storage in community-specific data repositories
  • Long-term data preservation and archival across decades and technology changes of the storage hardware for adequate abilities for referencing, searching and retrieving data and metadata
  • Large-scale and computing-intensive, community-specific, distributed and parallel as well as semantic data processing and analysis
  • Cyber-secure and policy-regulated access to the data respecting the original access rights and data ownership; demand-driven and community-specific with restricted or worldwide open access with means of federated authorisation/authentication/identity management techniques, in particular for the requirements of data privacy protection concerning individual-related data in medicine
  • Metadata support (= annotation of research data) for an efficient management, usability, quality assessment and referencing of data
  • Efficient, federated and scalable access to the data with distributed, generic as well as community-specific technologies and methods, interfaces and I/O libraries for an optimal inclusion in the data life cycle of the scientific communities

This list of recommendations is translated for the HDF into a tight integration and interaction of three elements: innovative software technologies, excellent user support and leading-edge storage and analysis hardware.

Complementing and using existing methods and software tools for distributed management of research data as described above, multi-disciplinary data centers at six Helmholtz centers with a strong topical profile represent the core of the nation-wide research infrastructure HDF. The existing profiles of the data centers, as initially support by HDF, are:

Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)

•    Polar Ice Sheets
•    Virtual Observatory for Polar and Marine Research Data

German Electron-Synchrotron DESY

•    Particle Physics Experiments
•    Photon Science at PETRA III, Flash and Flash2
•    Helmholtz Beamline at EU-XFEL

German Cancer Research Center

•    Genome Research
•    Cohort Studies
•    Radiological and Radiotherapeutical Research

Research Center Jülich

•    Computational Science
•    Biomed Image Analysis
•    Big Plant Data

GSI Helmholtz-Center for Heavy Ion Research

•    FAIR
•    Nuclear Physics
•    Health & Life Sciences

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)

•    Climatology
•    Energy Research
•    Particle and Astroparticle Physics

Through the HDF investment, the existing data centres at AWI, DESY, DKFZ, FZJ, GSI and KIT will be extended – in both capability and capacity – with leading-edge storage and analysis resources and technologies. Closely combined with leading-edge, innovative research data management solutions and software, as for example developed in the LSDMA initiative, this will ensure that the ever increasing volume and variety of valuable research data in all scientific disciplines can be stored and archived while preserving data integrity, provenance and (moral and legal) ownership. At the same time, most innovative technologies and methods for data analysis from science and industry will be made available to scientists.


Prof. Dr. Achim Streit
+49 721 608-25602
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie
Steinbuch Centre for Computing
Hermann-von-Helmholtz-Platz 1
76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen

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Helmholtz Data Federation Policies

Policies for Operating HDF E-Infrastructure


  • Photo of Andreas Kosmider