National Academies Press: OpenBook

IT Roadmap to a Geospatial Future (2003)

Chapter: What is CSTB?

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Suggested Citation:"What is CSTB?." National Research Council. 2003. IT Roadmap to a Geospatial Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10661.

What Is CSTB?

As a part of the National Research Council, the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board (CSTB) was established in 1986 to provide independent advice to the federal government on technical and public policy issues relating to computing and communications. Composed of leaders from industry and academia, CSTB conducts studies of critical national issues and makes recommendations to government, industry, and academic researchers. CSTB also provides a neutral meeting ground for consideration of complex issues where resolution and action may be premature. It convenes invitational discussions that bring together principals from the public and private sectors, ensuring consideration of all perspectives. The majority of CSTB’s work is requested by federal agencies and Congress, consistent with its National Academies context.

A pioneer in framing and analyzing Internet policy issues, CSTB is unique in its comprehensive scope and effective, interdisciplinary appraisal of technical, economic, social, and policy issues. Beginning with early work in computer and communications security, cyber-assurance and information systems trustworthiness have been a cross-cutting theme in CSTB’s work. CSTB has produced several reports regarded as classics in the field, and it continues to address these topics as they grow in importance.

To do its work, CSTB draws on some of the best minds in the country, inviting experts to participate in its projects as a public service. Studies are conducted by balanced committees without direct financial interests in the topics they are addressing. Those committees meet, confer electronically, and build analyses through their deliberations. Additional ex-

Suggested Citation:"What is CSTB?." National Research Council. 2003. IT Roadmap to a Geospatial Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10661.

pertise from around the country is tapped in a rigorous process of review and critique, further enhancing the quality of CSTB reports. By engaging groups of principals, CSTB obtains the facts and insights critical to assessing key issues.

The mission of CSTB is to:

  • Respond to requests from the government, nonprofit organizations, and private industry for advice on computer and telecommunications issues and from the government for advice on computer and telecommunications systems planning, utilization, and modernization;

  • Monitor and promote the health of the fields of computer science and telecommunications, with attention to issues of human resources, information infrastructure, and societal impacts;

  • Initiate and conduct studies involving computer science, computer technology, and telecommunications as critical resources; and

  • Foster interaction among the disciplines underlying computing and telecommunications technologies and other fields, at large and within the National Academies.

As of November 2002, current CSTB activities with a cybersecurity component address privacy in the information age, critical information infrastructure protection, authentication technologies and their privacy implications, geospatial information systems, cybersecurity research, and building certifiable dependable systems. Additional studies examine the fundamentals of computer science, information technology and creativity, computing and biology, Internet navigation and the Domain Name System, telecommunications research and development, wireless communications and spectrum management, and digital archiving and preservation. Explorations are under way in the areas of the insider threat, dependable and safe software systems, wireless communications and spectrum management, digital archiving and preservation, open source software, digital democracy, the “digital divide,” manageable systems, information technology and journalism, and women in computer science.

More information about CSTB can be obtained online at <>.

Suggested Citation:"What is CSTB?." National Research Council. 2003. IT Roadmap to a Geospatial Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10661.
Page 119
Suggested Citation:"What is CSTB?." National Research Council. 2003. IT Roadmap to a Geospatial Future. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10661.
Page 120
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A grand challenge for science is to understand the human implications of global environmental change and to help society cope with those changes. Virtually all the scientific questions associated with this challenge depend on geospatial information (geoinformation) and on the ability of scientists, working individually and in groups, to interact with that information in flexible and increasingly complex ways. Another grand challenge is how to respond to calamities-terrorist activities, other human-induced crises, and natural disasters. Much of the information that underpins emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation is geospatial in nature. In terrorist situations, for example, origins and destinations of phone calls and e-mail messages, travel patterns of individuals, dispersal patterns of airborne chemicals, assessment of places at risk, and the allocation of resources all involve geospatial information. Much of the work addressing environment- and emergency-related concerns will depend on how productively humans are able to integrate, distill, and correlate a wide range of seemingly unrelated information. In addition to critical advances in location-aware computing, databases, and data mining methods, advances in the human-computer interface will couple new computational capabilities with human cognitive capabilities.

This report outlines an interdisciplinary research roadmap at the intersection of computer science and geospatial information science. The report was developed by a committee convened by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council.

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