“The Commons is defined as a shared virtual space where scientists can find, deposit, manage, share and reuse data, software, metadata and workflows - the digital objects of biomedical research. It is a digital ecosystem that supports open science and leverages currently available computing platforms in a flexible and scalable manner to allow researchers to transparently find and use computing services and tools they need, access large public data sets and connect with other resources associated with scholarly research…”
The Commons uses cloud services to make data accessible, and ensures that datasets adhere to standards that make them findable, accessible, interoperable, and reproducible (FAIR). The Commons now reaches audiences beyond NIH scientists: As of 2016, it had 206,000 external users from 34,000 research facilities.
Several pilots are being conducted to test and evaluate the technical components of the Commons. They include a “cloud credits” business model that gives researchers credits to choose the best cloud service for their needs, and a Human Microbiome Project (HMP) that uses cloud hosting along with a suite of tools and Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to facilitate data access and use.