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Environmental Data Management at Noaa: Archiving, Stewardship, and Access
stewardship for these data sets and to expand and improve access to them in order to fully realize their social, economic, and environmental benefits. Unfortunately, the resources available for data management activities at NOAA have remained relatively flat in recent years. In addition, NOAA has yet to implement a coordinated, enterprise-wide plan that explicitly spells out the data management responsibilities of various program elements, or how these activities will mesh with data management activities at other agencies and international groups to ensure the long-term preservation and enhancement of all important environmental data sets, as well as access to these data by a broad range of users.
NOAA deserves praise for the steps that it has already taken to evaluate and improve its data management activities, such as the report Integrating the Pieces: Assessment of NOAA’s Environmental Data and InformationManagement (NOAA, 2006a), the formation of the Data Archiving and Access Requirements (DAAR) Working Group, and the conceptual plan for the Global Earth Observation Integrated Data Environment (GEO-IDE) (NOAA, 2006b), all of which are discussed in Chapter 2. These preliminary steps will need to be connected and extended by an effective, integrated, enterprise-wide data management plan, and accompanied by broad support and sustained funding, in order to meet the formidable challenge posed by anticipated increases in data archive volumes and data access demands and to ensure that NOAA’s environmental data continue to be available to meet societal needs. This report provides the foundation for such a plan by describing the principles that underlie effective environmental data management and providing guidelines and examples that explain and illustrate how these principles could and should be implemented within an integrated data management framework.
It should be emphasized from the outset that the sheer volume and diversity of NOAA’s environmental data holdings, coupled with the difficulty in predicting the future value of these data, demands that a structured but flexible process be used when making data management decisions. For example, as discussed in later chapters, the decision to upgrade legacy systems to meet the demands of increasing data volume and complexity should be made on a case-by-case basis, with input from the broad user community. NOAA’s end-to-end data management process, which includes acquiring, processing, storing, maintaining, updating, and providing access to data, represents an interconnected series of activities involving a large number of different people and systems and serving a broad range of stakeholders. Hence, in addition to providing principles related to the types of scientific data that should be archived and how to provide the best possible access to these data, this report addresses some of the key organizational, management, and planning activities, including inter- and intra-agency relationships, that are critical for making effective