BolzanoR – A community of R users in the middle of the Alps

Track 1 Data Analytics
14:4013/11/2020

Research is continuously relying on smart solutions to detect patterns within data to answer an enormous variety of different questions. In recent years, the impact of programming languages for automatization and handling big amounts of data is continuously rising. The R language firstly focused on statistical data analysis. Within the last 10 years a strong community grew around the language leading to create a package ecosystem dealing with, among others, spatial data analysis, machine learning, web development, reproducible research and open data. The rapid growth of features and packages can make it hard to follow the latest updates while learning the language. Because of the wide choice available, also experienced R developers can have trouble finding the best way to conduct a specific analysis.

For this reason, we created the BolzanoR group in Bolzano, Italy. The aim is to connect both researchers and non-researchers using the R language throughout our region. The organization of the group takes place in Gitlab (https://gitlab.inf.unibz.it/rmeetupbz/meetups) and the self-made website (https://rmeetupbz.pages.scientificnet.org/website/). We use these playgrounds to exchange code snippets and to develop future activities. Moreover, we bundle all the packages, publications, people, codes, markdown documents that are created in the province and brainstorm about ideas that are eventually new topics in research or which could have an impact on this region. Another big pillar of our activities are the weekly meetings which are organized as one-hour sessions with a dedicated topic and brainstorming activities.

We now assembled roughly 60 people in the group with a regular attendance of 10 to 20 people contributing to various activities such as the analysis of social media data, the access of environmental databases, the development and exploration of packages, the development of Shiny applications (e.g. the MeteoBrowser South Tyrol; http://meteobrowser.eurac.edu/) and other activities. This talk presents ours activities, structure and developments intending to spread the word and invite other people to join the initiative to actively broaden the open source community in the autonomous province of South Tyrol.