4
DATA, EDUCATION, AND OUTREACH INITIATIVES

DATA ACCESSIBILITY AND MANAGEMENT

The discussions on data accessibility and management were moderated by Dr. Douglas Wiens (Washington University at St. Louis) and Dr. Peter Schlosser (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University). The session began with a presentation on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) by Dr. Alan Stevens of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The NSDI is a committee of 19 Cabinet level agencies who are charged with overseeing data and data standards, and Dr. Stevens’ presentation stressed the importance of using common standards and techniques to collect, process, and archive geospatial information and data.

For the IPY, the developing Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI), which is an international extension of the NSDI, could be helpful for managing the anticipated large amount of data. Important considerations for data policies are related to standards, metadata, and data interoperability. The GSDI has published a “cookbook” dealing with each of these components, and IPY researchers could use this information to incorporate data specifications and standards into proposals. By adhering to the policies, researchers can help ensure efficient data handling, sharing, and archiving during and after the IPY.

Participants then discussed some examples of data sharing successes, but noted that timely data sharing remains problematic in many international projects owing to differences in culture. Additionally, due to privacy laws, data sharing for some social science projects may not be applicable. Nonetheless, there was discussion that the IPY could be seen as an opportunity to further international data sharing and data policy standards. An easy step could be encouraging investigators to submit metadata well ahead of actually giving the data. This would inform other researchers of what is being collected and where information is available, which may open the possibility for more collaborative research and data exchange during the IPY. There were comments that enforcing data sharing policies is difficult. Most U.S. agencies already have data policies, but ensuring compliance is sometimes



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International Polar Year 2007–2008: Report of the Implementation Workshop 4 DATA, EDUCATION, AND OUTREACH INITIATIVES DATA ACCESSIBILITY AND MANAGEMENT The discussions on data accessibility and management were moderated by Dr. Douglas Wiens (Washington University at St. Louis) and Dr. Peter Schlosser (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University). The session began with a presentation on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) by Dr. Alan Stevens of the United States Geological Survey (USGS). The NSDI is a committee of 19 Cabinet level agencies who are charged with overseeing data and data standards, and Dr. Stevens’ presentation stressed the importance of using common standards and techniques to collect, process, and archive geospatial information and data. For the IPY, the developing Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI), which is an international extension of the NSDI, could be helpful for managing the anticipated large amount of data. Important considerations for data policies are related to standards, metadata, and data interoperability. The GSDI has published a “cookbook” dealing with each of these components, and IPY researchers could use this information to incorporate data specifications and standards into proposals. By adhering to the policies, researchers can help ensure efficient data handling, sharing, and archiving during and after the IPY. Participants then discussed some examples of data sharing successes, but noted that timely data sharing remains problematic in many international projects owing to differences in culture. Additionally, due to privacy laws, data sharing for some social science projects may not be applicable. Nonetheless, there was discussion that the IPY could be seen as an opportunity to further international data sharing and data policy standards. An easy step could be encouraging investigators to submit metadata well ahead of actually giving the data. This would inform other researchers of what is being collected and where information is available, which may open the possibility for more collaborative research and data exchange during the IPY. There were comments that enforcing data sharing policies is difficult. Most U.S. agencies already have data policies, but ensuring compliance is sometimes

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International Polar Year 2007–2008: Report of the Implementation Workshop difficult because investigators often do not feel that it is to their interest, and it takes considerable time and effort to comply. In fact, a disincentive is that there is rarely credit for sharing with a data center, and researchers, especially younger investigators, have little incentive to work on the data because their career promotions are based on what they publish scientifically, not on whether they place their data into long-term archives. After the data sharing discussion, comments focused on data management and what the appropriate structure for data storage might be in terms of a centralized archive or distributed archive network. Most participants felt a distributed network is the better option for the IPY, and comments then discussed using existing data centers, which already have the expertise and facilities to manage data. Comments also noted that creating new data structures would be expensive and inefficient. The discussion then concluded by noting that most decisions about IPY 2007-2008 data protocols, both with the United States and internationally, remain to be made. In the United States, the formation of a working group or task force, comprising representatives from agencies, data centers, and the science community, might be a way to further advance discussion of IPY data issues. EDUCATION AND OUTREACH INITIATIVES Following the data discussion, Drs. Schlosser and Wiens moderated the session on IPY education and outreach opportunities. Most workshop participants were not experts in education and outreach, but they recognized its importance. Preliminary discussion noted that education and outreach are small investments compared to some of the other activities proposed for the IPY, yet they will be a significant legacy that the IPY leaves to future generations. The discussion continued with a presentation from Ms. Reneé Crain (NSF/OPP), who spoke about a recent NSF-sponsored workshop on IPY education and outreach. Participants at that workshop stressed that the IPY could be used to increase public knowledge and interest of the polar regions, engage northern residents more fully in outreach activities, increase the use of polar research examples in math and science classes, enhance polar science influence on policy, and help internationalize polar science. The workshop also noted that the IPY community will need to marshal a wide range of tools to accomplish these goals. High bandwidth communications will be important for live feeds from the field. These live feeds can highlight so-called “splash-events”, which draw considerable public interest. In the IGY, one splash-event was the satellite launch; a more recent example is the Mars rover. The workshop also suggested museums and zoos could be a means of engaging the public, particularly by showcasing charismatic polar mega faunas and paleofaunas, explaining why they are important, and discussing how they have changed historically and how they are changing currently. Marketing, industry, and professional societies are another tool that might help

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International Polar Year 2007–2008: Report of the Implementation Workshop scientists make the polar regions relevant to people across the globe. Foundations might even be able to provide some funds for education/public outreach. Following from Ms. Crain’s presentation, Dr. Peter West, from the NSF Office of Legislative and Public affairs, provided some further remarks on outreach. Dr. West noted that the public is inherently interested in polar regions, and that there already exists a cadre of well-placed and influential reporters that are aware of the IPY. In comparison with the IGY, one major difference in working with the media is that it is now physically possible to broadcast live television from, for example, the dry valleys, the South Pole, or the waters under the Arctic ice cap. After Dr. West’s remarks, participants noted that regardless of the specific education and outreach approaches to the IPY, it will be crucial to design these programs concurrently with the science, and also engage Alaskan residents more explicitly. There was some discussion that the IGY outreach effort was staffed by a small team, but because that outreach was their sole focus, they were able to make significant contributions. For the IPY, discussion centered on the possibility of forming an interagency task force to address the issue of coordinated education and outreach efforts. There are international bodies that also are interested in education and outreach, such as the Arctic Council, and the U.S. efforts would benefit from engaging them early. As with data management, many decisions regarding education and outreach remain to be answered.