It is important for USGS management to appreciate the significance of USGS ownership of a comprehensive, reliable, national dataset. Developing and implementing the crucial elements of an SDI will require sponsorship and support at the highest levels in the USGS. Those in leadership that are specifically responsible for delivering the implementation will need to have the authority and resources to carry the task through. However, the biggest challenge in successfully implementing an SDI will be in facilitating a cultural shift in the approach to data: that data should be viewed as a corporate asset and not held as individual or divisional resources or as liabilities. Instituting the cultural change will be difficult given the natural tension between data-management activities and science research. As previously mentioned, incentivizing researchers for sharing data would be an example of a change in USGS management practices that could affect the necessary cultural shift.
The development and maintenance of an SDI requires collaborative partnerships with cooperating agencies, research organizations, nonprofit organizations, private organizations, and the public. The USGS Science Strategy acknowledges the need for its scientists and policy-makers to partner with other organizations in the sharing of scientific resources. With the creation of an SDI, the USGS is in a unique position to catalyze linkages between national science organizations and government environmental-assessment efforts, the broad research community, and the public. If properly coordinated and managed, the USGS SDI could provide considerable value to government efforts through data management, application of models, and other analysis tools. Through proper coordination and linkages with other, more science-based observatories, the USGS can focus its resources on high-priority science and environmental policy issues that are of national importance.
The public is an increasingly important partner in localized Earth observations through its use of devices such as GPS-enabled mobile telephones and cameras. The use of citizen-scientist field observations—such as observations of plant species and growth and in fish and bird counts—will need to be integrated, and such diverse volunteered information will be challenging but necessary to include for science analysis. A clear policy will need to be established regarding if and how to incorporate a given spatial dataset, whether from citizen-scientists or private industry.
Effective partnerships will require workable and fair policies for the full and open exchange of data in compliance with U.S. federal government policies. In the United States, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) establishes a framework policy for data access and reuse among federal agencies.