4

Postscript

The IWGDMGC asked the steering committee for the forum to add a postscript to this report addressing the post-forum changes to the Implementation Plan. The steering committee reviewed a revised version of the Plan, dated December 21, 1993. This chapter focuses on the response to the conclusions and recommendations that are outlined in Chapter 2 of this report. With regard to aspects of the Plan that related to the USGCRP and the GCDIS, the forum recommended the following:

  • establishment of a two-way bulletin board system

  • development of a flexible, evolving GCDIS

  • inclusion of all critical global change datasets

  • initiation of pilot projects

  • improvement in the management of ecosystems data.

These recommendations were largely addressed in the revised Plan. The IWGDMGC acknowledges that there are many types and levels of users, each with different requirements, and seems committed to designing flexible hardware and software to meet those disparate and changing needs. The Plan should also encourage, however, use of the GCDIS in less conventional ways. For example, the system is designed to enable researchers to access known datasets, but does not promote the random browsing that often leads to new research directions.



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1993 DATA FORUM: A Review of an Implementation Plan for U.S. Global Change Data and Information System 4 Postscript The IWGDMGC asked the steering committee for the forum to add a postscript to this report addressing the post-forum changes to the Implementation Plan. The steering committee reviewed a revised version of the Plan, dated December 21, 1993. This chapter focuses on the response to the conclusions and recommendations that are outlined in Chapter 2 of this report. With regard to aspects of the Plan that related to the USGCRP and the GCDIS, the forum recommended the following: establishment of a two-way bulletin board system development of a flexible, evolving GCDIS inclusion of all critical global change datasets initiation of pilot projects improvement in the management of ecosystems data. These recommendations were largely addressed in the revised Plan. The IWGDMGC acknowledges that there are many types and levels of users, each with different requirements, and seems committed to designing flexible hardware and software to meet those disparate and changing needs. The Plan should also encourage, however, use of the GCDIS in less conventional ways. For example, the system is designed to enable researchers to access known datasets, but does not promote the random browsing that often leads to new research directions.

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1993 DATA FORUM: A Review of an Implementation Plan for U.S. Global Change Data and Information System A pilot project that combines natural science data with public policy goals (the monitoring of atmospheric CO2 to support an agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions), has already been initiated. This pilot project, and others that will presumably follow, will also help to shift the focus of the GCDIS from the geophysical sciences to all data critical to global change research. The steering committee was pleased that the biological sciences received greater attention in the revised Plan, although the databases mentioned illustrate the still fragmentary nature of ecosystems data. The IWGDMGC has also established a bulletin board, although it seems to be viewed primarily as a mechanism for users to get information about the GCDIS, rather than a way for obtaining user input on other aspects of the USGCRP, such as setting priorities, or identifying the critical datasets. The steering committee believes that user input is critical to the success of the GCDIS, and ultimately, the USGCRP, but recognizes that this task cannot be implemented by the IWGDMGC alone. The steering committee also recommended that the Plan better explain or emphasize the following: how to use the system goals and milestones of the GCDIS specific roles of the participating agencies and users financial needs of the GCDIS. These recommendations were in general not addressed by the revised Plan. For example, even though the key components of the GCDIS are scheduled to be in place by April 1, 1994, only NASA provided phone numbers and internet addresses that users need to access the system. In addition, the Plan does not address the possibility that the demands of global change research may require changes in the way that individual agencies deal with these data. Most importantly, however, the total costs for the GCDIS, as well as the funding requirements for the individual agencies, are unknown. The steering committee recognizes the difficulties inherent in estimating a budget, but believes that without realistic, committed resources, the Plan will remain an interagency planning exercise without meaningful milestones.

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1993 DATA FORUM: A Review of an Implementation Plan for U.S. Global Change Data and Information System Despite these remaining uncertainties, the steering committee and forum participants were pleased with the responsiveness of the IWGDMGC to the research community. The Implementation Plan represents a major step forward in the challenging task of meeting the data and information needs of the USGCRP, and the steering committee looks forward to the first successes of the GCDIS.