Europe is building environmental research infrastructures. Such facilities are designed to provide research communities with high quality, standardized, comparable research data, over large temporal and spatial scales. The vision is that research communities will use research infrastructures to conduct research and foster innovation in their fields. More concretely, research communities analyze and interpret data published by infrastructures for their meaning in a vast range of contexts with scientific and societal relevance. With such activities, research communities create information, i.e. data that are meaningful within the context of particular research investigations.
Information is iteratively refined along a value chain, communicated in published literature, and ultimately integrated to advance our shared knowledge about the natural world. Following an introduction to the concepts of research infrastructures and knowledge infrastructures, this talk discusses the position and role of research infrastructures relative to research communities in knowledge infrastructures. We present these concepts in light of a use case and discuss how information technologies can acquire, curate and further process semantic information derived from data through analysis and interpretation activities carried out by research communities. We suggest that such technologies are key toward future infrastructures in which systems increasingly manage knowledge about the natural world.