The research software engineering group within the Industrial Ecology Programme (IndEcol) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), known as the IndEcol Digital Laboratory, was set up two years ago to tackle crossover between the work being done by the different research groups within IndEcol.

The lab is working to create digital infrastructure, tools and models to encourage the input output analysis, lifecycle assessment and material flow analysis groups to work together and avoid replication of effort.

“Before we started, we asked everyone to create a workflow showing exactly what they do each day,” says lead researcher Konstantin Stadler. “And we found out how many overlaps there were, and also what could be automated.”

Stadler and software engineer Radek Lonka are now creating a knowledge exchange platform that will allow engineers on all of the teams to contribute and avoid each researcher building their own separate products.

Lonka is also keen to introduce industry-style best practice to the teams, to discourage “non-systematic software development”.

“We have a situation where a PhD student produces code and data for his or her project which is hard to find, reproduce and reuse. Yes, there’s the paper, but where is the data? The software? The code? I think its important to focus on industry standards, processed and methodologies so that when the next PhD student takes over the code they can read and understand it,” Lonka says.  

The team is funded centrally for any work doe that benefit IndEcolas a whole, but charges for individual projects.

“That income stream should eventually allow us to extend our team”, says Stadler.