G.E.M.S. Platform

Research objectives

The International Agroinformatics Alliance (IAA) is a strategic partnership among public and private entities worldwide, including the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS) and MSI. Formed in September 2015, IAA is driven to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability by forming an agile and engaged community of research practice and by minimizing obstacles to combining and analyzing large and diverse agricultural related datasets via the use of advanced curation and analysis techniques. The IAA is actively involved in two distinct, but critically important, development efforts to advance its goals. The first is to create a partnership in which its member strengths create synergies greater than the sum of their individual parts. The second is to help facilitate the development of a technical data management and analysis platform that minimizes barriers to collaboration and discovery by giving data owners fine-grained control over what data and metadata they share, when they share these data, and with whom.

How we worked with the researchers
MSI used its HPC and bioinformatics expertise to work with agricultural experts at CFANS to drive the development of a next-generation agroinformatics data discovery and analysis platform dubbed G.E.M.S™ (Genetic, Environmental, Management, and Socioeconomic data). The G.E.M.S.™ platform has two core features, co-developed by MSI programmers. GEMShare™ includes: appropriate levels of security; access control, so proprietary data is protected; different access levels - single organization, set of organizations, and public/open data; discoverability of data through metadata alone; secure data transfer. GEMSTools™ includes: access to best-in-class hardware and software libraries; accommodation of different programming languages; a range of analysis styles (novice to sophisticated).


The G.E.M.S.™ platform is now in production on MSI systems. The G.E.M.S.™ Open environment offers basic access to search and download public datasets. Paid subscribers to the service can share data products and analyze data through a variety of interfaces. MSI staff maintain the hardware and the continuous integration tools for the continued improvement of the platform by the G.E.M.S.™ software developers. MSI staff provide user support and manage the infrastructure for this ongoing collaboration.