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Science for Decisionmaking: Coastal and Marine Geology at the U.S. Geological Survey
but much effort remains to bring some forms of data to the public. In the early years of the twenty-first century, distributed information issues will become more important, and USGS needs to seriously consider its role as an information distributor.
The committee, therefore, envisions a knowledge bank that is far more comprehensive than a simple database or series of World Wide Web sites. The knowledge bank should be developed in Geographic Information System (GIS) format with multiple stacked and interrelated layers of data. Data should be systematically collected at the province scale but would be integrated at the national level. The challenge facing CMGP will be to define the types of layers and then translate them into information and then into a comprehensive knowledge bank. The national knowledge bank should be managed and maintained centrally. Its structure must be designed to support resource management and other science-based decisions by federal, state, and local agencies. Furthermore, this knowledge bank should be designed to become the foundation for the assessment of the health and well-being of the coastal and marine environment.
Building such a knowledge base for wise custodial decisions should begin with the construction of a preliminary data model for each province using all available data and information (at many scales and disciplines). Subsequent gap analysis of data, information, and knowledge would reveal:
the critical data sets needed to analyze or build a comprehensive data model of the province and
the fundamental geologic questions that will define the most critical projects and data gathering efforts that are needed to build the data model for each province. This data gathering leads to or facilitates:
systematic organization of data and information,
development of pertinent questions about the geologic framework of the province and its active processes,
selection and prioritization of projects for developing data that are lacking, and
communication with other federal and state agencies and state geological surveys leading to cooperative ventures.
Finally, development of a method to derive custom products on demand will likely raise questions regarding competition with the private sector—there are some existing businesses that function as resellers of USGS data, sometimes reprocessed for specific purposes, sometimes not. These are thorny issues that are beyond the scope of this study but that will need to be addressed by the USGS as a whole.