The annual meeting of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Data Sharing Working Group (DSWG) was held June 21 and 22 in two separate locations, Helsinki, Finland, and Palisades, New York. Taking into consideration a seven-hour time difference between the meeting sites, plenary sessions were held each day via video and telecon. Separate breakout group meetings were then held at each location, focused on specific issues such as international trends in open data sharing and building national capacity for data sharing. Robert Chen, CIESIN director, hosted the New York subgroup at Columbia′s Lamont campus in his capacity as one of the DSWG co-chairs. GEO is a voluntary partnership of national governments and participating organizations working together to improve decision-making informed through coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations. Improving data access and sharing has been a key GEO focus since it was established in 2005.
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The work of Karen Seto, associate dean for research and Frederick C. Hixon professor of geography and urbanization science at Yale University′s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, is featured in a new User Profile on the NASA Earthdata web site. Seto is an active user of and contributor to the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN. She served as a member of the SEDAC User Working Group from 2005 to 2011. Seto′s research focuses on urbanization and its effects on local and global environments, relying on both field and remotely-sensed data. Her data set, Global Grid of Probabilities of Urban Expansion to 2030, v.1 (2000-2030), developed with Burak Güneralp and Lucy Hutyra, is currently available from SEDAC. A second data set on long-term urban settlement growth, from 3700 BC to 2000 AD, will be released later this year. Seto recently received NASA funding for a project that will use multi-scale and multi-source satellite data to examine urban growth in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region.
Robert Chen, director of CIESIN and SEDAC's manager, discusses the role of geography and innovative geospatial data and technologies in a profile in Ubique, the newsletter of the American Geographical Society (AGS). One of Chen′s early SEDAC activities was to support development of the first global gridded data set on population distribution, Gridded Population of the World (GPW), created by geographers Waldo Tobler and Uwe Deichmann, then with the University of California-Santa Barbara. SEDAC released the fourth version of GPW in 2016. Chen′s recent collaborations include activities with Facebook′s Connectivity Lab on population mapping in rural areas, the New York Hall of Science on informal sustainability education, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and the Research Data Alliance (RDA) on open data sharing, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN) on sustainable development data. He joined the AGS Council in 2015.
Enrico Giovannini, professor at University of Rome Tor Vergata, gives the keynote speech at “Navigating the Data Revolution: New Partnerships and Pathways Towards a World that Counts,” June 15, 2017 at Casa Italiana, Columbia University.
“Navigating the Data Revolution: New Partnerships and Pathways Towards a World that Counts” was the topic of an evening event June 15 at Casa Italiana, co-sponsored by the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, and the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America. Enrico Giovannini, professor at University of Rome Tor Vergata, gave a keynote speech, highlighting the challenges and opportunities facing the development data community since the 2014 publication of the influential report, A World That Counts, produced by the UN Secretary-General′s Independent Expert Advisory Group on the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. Giovannini′s presentation was followed by a panel discussion on the need for new data partnerships and pathways, moderated by Shaida Badiee, managing director of Open Data Watch. Panelists were Laveesh Bhandari of the Indicus Foundation, CIESIN director Robert Chen, Chukwudozie Ezigbalike of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and Jenna Slotin of the Global Partnership. The event was held in conjunction with the June 15–16 meeting of the SDSN′s Thematic Network on Data for Sustainable Development, which is co-chaired by Giovannini, Badiee, and Chen. Giovannini also chaired the 2014 group, which included Badiee and Chen as members.
New personnel have joined CIESIN recently, including Markus Walsh, senior research scientist. Formerly Walsh was a senior research scientist with the Agriculture and Food Security Center of the Earth Institute, focused on ecosystems and landscape ecology. Prior to that, he was a senior research scientist for ten years at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), where he led research on land degradation assessment, monitoring and rehabilitation in the Lake Victoria Basin, based in Kisumu, Kenya. He holds a PhD in rangeland ecology and management from Texas A&M University and BSc degrees in animal science and in agricultural mechanization from Iowa State University. Walsh grew up in Kenya and has more than 25 years of experience in ecosystems and landscape ecology research in Africa. Since joining the Earth Institute in 2007, his research has focused on developing operational tools for diagnosis, mapping and monitoring of the ecological condition of African landscapes with an emphasis on the application of information technology and data science in agriculture. He is based at the Selian Agricultural Research Institute in Arusha, Tanzania, where he is the science coordinator for the Africa Soil Information Service.
Also new to CIESIN is Ryan Marriott, who is program coordinator for the Millennium Villages data archiving project. Marriott worked on the Millennium Villages Project from January 2010 until June 2016. He has an MPA in energy and environmental policy from the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, and a BA in economics from Macalester College.
Several interns have joined CIESIN for the summer. Anna Kaplan and Seyi Olojo, both rising seniors at Barnard College, are researching the relationship between infant mortality rates and the environment, as part of the creation of a new version of the Global Subnational Infant Mortality Rates (IMR) data set. They are working with Dara Mendeloff, CIESIN geographic information specialist, and Sandra Baptista, senior research associate. Majoring in environmental biology, Kaplan is part of the summer Earth Intern Program for Columbia University and Barnard College students, coordinated by Lamont research scientist Dallas Abbott. Olojo is a rising senior, majoring in environmental policy with a minor in statistics. She is a recipient of an Athena Summer Fellowship at Barnard. Last summer she was an Earth Intern, working with CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy.
Kira Topik is working with Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications, on links between climate change, population distribution, and migration, in support of an ongoing project for the World Bank. A graduate of Pitzer College with dual BA degrees in international and intercultural studies and in Spanish, Topik will receive her MA from Columbia′s Climate and Society program in August. Previously she was a program officer in the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Latin America and Caribbean Program.
The map shows the 3-year mean satellite-derived NO2 concentrations for 2010 to 2012.
Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is major constituent in air pollution, with direct impacts on respiratory health and a key role as a chemical precursor in the overall air pollution mix. As a common by-product of internal combustion, outdoor NO2 pollution is mainly associated with motor vehicle traffic and energy production. A team of scientists led by Jeff Geddes and Randall Martin from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, has produced a new data set that tracks long-term trends in ambient NO2 concentrations based on observations from three satellite instruments over the 17-year period, 1996–2012. The estimates of surface NO2 levels were validated against ground-based monitors and combined with the Gridded Population of the World version 3 (GPWv3) data set distributed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) to produce a population-weighted time series of NO2 exposure. The data are now available from SEDAC as part of the data collection, Satellite Derived Environmental Indicators. The data set, Global 3-Year Running Mean Ground-Level NO2 Grids from GOME, SCIAMACHY and GOME-2, v1 (1996–2012), consists of a series of 0.1-degree latitude-longitude grids (approximately 10 x 10 km resolution) representing averages for overlapping 3-year periods. The grids for 1996–1998 and 2010–2012 may be visualized through the Web Mapping Service (WMS).
SEDAC has also recently released other new and updated data sets. The U.S. Census Grids Summary File 1, v1 (2010 ), provides grids for selected population and housing variables for the year 2010 consistent with previous grids released for 1990 and 2000 based on earlier U.S. censuses. These grids have a resolution of 30 arc-seconds (approximately 1 square km) and are based on census block geography from the Census 2010 TIGER/Line Files.
Settlement Points, v1.01 (1990, 1995, 2000), and Urban Extent Polygons, v1.01 (1995), are updates to human settlement data from the Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP) data collection. These revisions incorporate improved geospatial location information, new settlement points, and new urban extents identified from multiple sources. The Urban Extent Polygons data set now includes polygons in Esri shapefile format with the settlement name (or name of the largest city, in the case of multi-city agglomerations). Polygons are defined by the extent of night-time lights and approximated urban extents (circles) based on buffered settlement points.
For more information about these data sets, please see the links below.
Members of the User Working Group of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN and several SEDAC staff members at the Lamont campus in Palisades, New York, May 31.
The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN hosted a technical interchange meeting of its User Working Group (UWG) May 31–June 1 to review progress and advise on strategic priorities. The meeting began with reports on recent SEDAC accomplishments and ongoing projects, followed by in-depth discussion of revised and proposed new priorities for SEDAC for the next five years. A joint breakout session was held via telecon with the UWG of the Land Processes-Distributed Active Archive Center (LP-DAAC) to discuss the accessibility of SEDAC data through the LP-DAAC's Application for Extracting and Exploring Analysis Ready Samples (AppEEARS). The LP-DAAC UWG was meeting simultaneously in Fort Collins, Colorado. The meeting also included presentations by two UWG members on recent approaches to the use of remote sensing data in the social sciences and in land cover/land use change research, as well as a guest lecture on big social science data and sustainable development by Emmanuel Letouzé of the Data-Pop Alliance. The first day of the meeting was held at the Lamont campus of Columbia University, and the second on the Morningside campus in Manhattan. Other participants included representatives from NASA headquarters and the Goddard Space Flight Center, and from the LP-DAAC and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) DAAC. Chaired by Myron Gutmann of the University of Colorado, the UWG has members from a diverse set of disciplines and application areas from both the public and private sectors.
“Data in the Middle: the Common Language of Research” was the theme of the 2017 conference of the International Association for Social Science Information Services and Technology (IASSIST) in Lawrence, Kansas, May 23–26. At the meeting CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs presented the paper, “Facilitating Integration of Socioeconomic and Remote Sensing Data to Support Interdisciplinary Research and Applications,” co-authored with CIESIN director Robert Chen. IASSIST is an international organization of data librarians, data managers, and other information technology professionals who support data management, research, and teaching in the social sciences. The conference was hosted this year by the University of Kansas, in collaboration with the Kansas University Libraries, the Institute for Policy and Social Research, and the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank.
At United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York City May 23, CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo participated as an expert speaker on a panel, “Adverse Effects of Climate Change and Natural Disasters as Drivers of Migration.” The panel was part of the informal second thematic session on addressing drivers of migration, including adverse effects of climate change, natural disasters, and human-made crisis, through actions such as protection and assistance, sustainable development, poverty eradication, and conflict prevention and resolution. Adamo was invited by the Office of the President of the General Assembly, which organized the panel with the UN Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. This panel, together with a May 16 academic panel on climate change, migration, and displacement organized by the United Nations University (UNU), supported the Preparatory Process for the Global Compact for Migration. The call for the Global Compact follows the adoption in 2016 of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, in which the 193 UN Member States recognized the need for a comprehensive approach to human mobility and enhanced cooperation at the global level.
How demographic shifts, evolving cultural values and beliefs, and the changing environment may interact was the focus of an online “cyberseminar″ hosted by the Population and Environment Research Network (PERN) May 15–19, organized by CIESIN and the Columbia Aging Center. The cyberseminar began May 15 with a webinar hosted by Future Earth that summarized the background paper and introduced the themes addressed by panelists. Webinar presenters were Vegard Skirbekk of the Columbia Aging Center and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, and PERN coordinators, Susana Adamo, CIESIN research scientist, and Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications. They presented a paper co-authored with Tricia Chai-Onn, CIESIN geographic information specialist. Other invited experts provided comments on specific topics: Raya Muttarak of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) on ethnic and religious affiliation as they relate to vulnerability to natural hazards; Richard Wilk of the Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, on culture and environmentally significant consumption; and Tom Dietz of the Department of Sociology, Michigan State University, and Rachael Shwom of the Department of Human Ecology, Rutgers University, on culture, environmental risk perception, and behavior. Additional comments by experts from around the world have been posted to the cyberseminar discussion list.
The mission of PERN is to advance academic research on population and the environment by promoting online scientific exchange among researchers from social and natural science disciplines worldwide. PERN is a scientific panel of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP) and a sustained partner of Future Earth, an international initiative to advance global sustainability science.
Fisherman off the coast of Sierra Leone, West Africa. CIESIN led a vulnerability assessment of the fishing communities of Sierra Leone for the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA-BiCC) project.
Awareness is growing of the vital importance of evidence-based decision making in Africa, for example, in agricultural development, natural resource management, and climate vulnerability assessment. CIESIN continues to work actively to address key African data needs through a number of different projects and initiatives, including the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and operated by Rothamsted Research; the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA-BiCC) project of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID); and the West Africa SERVIR hub being established jointly by USAID and NASA.
AfSIS is helping several African countries establish national soil information systems and services based on a range of new technologies. Senior research scientist Markus Walsh and deputy director Marc Levy manage CIESIN’s component of AfSIS, which is utilizing soil infrared spectroscopy, remote sensing, crowdsourcing, and other methods to accelerate development of digital soil maps. Such maps support efforts in partner countries Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania to intensify agricultural production sustainably. Ethiopia, for example, has been able to formulate five fertilizer blends and target their use geographically, which is more effective and less harmful than the single blend formerly in use. Swetha Ramaswamy, education and outreach coordinator for AfSIS, is spending more than two months in Africa this spring, working to develop an eLearning course based on AfSIS field and laboratory protocols. The course will be made available in multiple languages through low bandwidth Internet connections.
CIESIN associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin and associate research scientist Sylwia Trzaska are leading CIESIN’s activities on improving climate analyses and assessing vulnerability to climate change in Africa. This past spring Trzaska participated in several workshops and meetings for the United Kingdom’s Weather and Climate Information Services for Africa (WISER) program, in collaboration with colleagues from the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI). These meetings addressed a range of climate information issues, including the use of seasonal climate forecasts and “downscaling” of data to meet local needs. For the WA-BiCC project, Trzaska led a vulnerability assessment in the coastal areas of Sierra Leone, involving field data collection on household poverty, livelihoods, and environmental perceptions as well as mangrove data collection. She also led the data analysis, which involved several CIESIN staff members. Senior research associate Pinki Mondal is also contributing to the project, through an analysis of mangrove degradation along the coast of Sierra Leone using remote sensing data. For the new West African SERVIR node, CIESIN is assisting the prime contractor, Tetra Tech ARD, in developing technical capacity among consortium members and providing technical expertise on geospatial data acquisition, analysis, and application in support of national and regional decision making in the region.
CIESIN staff members had prominent roles in a number of recent events in New York City, in Mumbai, and at other venues around New York State. Senior research associate Pinki Mondal gave a public lecture, “Mangroves through the Eye of a Satellite,” at the Columbia Global Center located in Mumbai, India, May 8. She described how remote sensing images from the past 27 years have provided insights into changes in mangrove ecosystems in Sierra Leone, West Africa, and how this approach can help estimate mangrove extents in India.
On May 13, CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a lightning talk at New York University in New York City, “Enabling Interdisciplinary Use of Scientific Data on Human Interactions in the Environment,” co-authored with senior digital archivist Robert Downs. The talk was part of a Colloquium on Libraries and Archives in the Anthropocene organized by Litwin Books.
During the United Nations (UN) 2017 Multi-Stakeholder Forum on Science, Technology and Innovation for the Sustainable Development Goals (STI Forum), the International Council for Science (ICSU), in collaboration with its Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN), organized a side event, “Open Data and Open Science for the SDGs,” at UN headquarters May 15. In his capacity as co-chair of the UNSDSN Thematic Network on Data for Sustainable Development, Robert Chen moderated the panel, which featured talks by Heide Hackmann, executive director of ICSU, and Geoffrey Boulton, president of CODATA. CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo served as a discussant, together with George Essegby, director of the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of Ghana's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
Susana Adamo also participated in a May 16 academic panel, “Climate Change, Migration and Displacement,” organized by the United Nations University (UNU) at UN headquarters. The panel was held in the context of regional consultations in support of negotiations for the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, with the aim of helping diplomatic communities in New York engage with the latest academic research and thinking on relevant migration policy issues.
Robert Downs traveled to Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, May 17-18 for the Research Data Alliance United States (RDA/US) leadership meeting. Issues discussed included the sustainability of the RDA, engagement with the private sector, updates on current initiatives, current challenges, and new and existing programs. Downs serves as a co-chair of the RDA Interest Group on Repository Platforms for Research Data, and Chen is a co-chair of the RDA Legal Interoperability Interest Group.
More than 100 geographic information system (GIS) experts gathered in Purchase, New York, May 18 for the annual Westchester GIS User Group Meeting. Greg Yetman, associate director for geospatial applications, gave a presentation on the Hudson River Flooding Decision Support System and other related CIESIN projects. The meeting was held in collaboration with the Purchase College Environmental Studies Program.
Senior digital archivist Robert Downs joined more than 500 remote sensing scientists, data experts, and space agency representatives from around the world in Tshwane, South Africa at the 37th International Symposium on Remote Sensing of Environment (ISRSE37) May 8‒12. During a session organized by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), he presented “Implementing the Group on Earth Observations Data Management Principles: Lessons from a Scientific Data Center.“ Downs also attended the GEO Work Programme Symposium (WPS) May 12‒13, which focused on coordination across GEO initiatives and priorities. There he participated in discussions about potential adoption of the GEO data management and data sharing principles by the GEO community and presented a poster about relevant experience at the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC). GEO is a voluntary partnership of more than 100 national governments and over 100 Participating Organizations aimed at improving the coordination and sustained use of Earth observations in societal decision making.
Participants in the SESYNC workshop, “Meta-Analysis of Climate Vulnerability Mapping Studies,” in Annapolis, Maryland, May 8‒10. CIESIN associate director for science applications, Alex de Sherbinin, who led the workshop, is pictured fourth from left, back row.
Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications, led the workshop, “Meta-Analysis of Climate Vulnerability Mapping Studies,” at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) in Annapolis, Maryland, May 8‒10. Funded by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation administered by the University of Maryland, SESYNC is focused on interdisciplinary collaborations that drive data-driven solutions to socio-environmental issues. The workshop brought together more than a dozen experts on climate vulnerability mapping, with several additional team members participating remotely. During the workshop, de Sherbinin gave a presentation on the SEDAC Hazards Mapper, an interactive tool for visualizing and accessing data on exposure and vulnerability of population and infrastructure to natural hazards, available from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN. The overall project is seeking to identify good practices in integrating spatial data representing climate exposure, biophysical systems, and social vulnerability, and to improve climate vulnerability maps and online map tools to facilitate science-policy communication.
CIESIN staffed a booth on mapping and spatial data at an Earth Day fair at St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) in Orangeburg, New York, April 26. Standing left to right: information scientist Xiaoshi Xing; senior research staff assistant Olena Borkovska; senior research staff assistant John Squires; and senior digital archivist Robert Downs.
CIESIN data and information resources were featured at several recent community events in the greater New York metropolitan area focused on science and the environment. At the St. Thomas Aquinas College (STAC) campus in Orangeburg, New York, April 26, senior digital archivist Robert Downs, senior research staff assistants Olena Borkovska and John Squires, and information scientist Xiaoshi Xing staffed a CIESIN booth as part of an Earth Day Fair for STAC students and K-12 attendees from nearby schools. The booth included a poster on the concept of map projections, a projection puzzle to engage students in hands-on learning, and a multimedia “story map” about the evolution and use of CIESIN's gridded population data products over the past twenty years. The fair was jointly organized by STAC and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
Later that evening, senior research associate Pinki Mondal joined other female science professionals at the 4th Annual Women in Science Night, hosted by the East Side Community High School in the East Village area of New York City. In breakout sessions that followed a panel discussion, Mondal interacted with young women students interested in science careers, discussing her current research using remote sensing to assess how food crops respond to changing patterns of temperature/rainfall in India and how mangrove forests are changing in West Africa.
Farmingdale State College in Farmingdale, New York, was the venue for the 2017 Long Island GIS User Conference, which senior research staff assistants Alyssa Fico and Jane Mills attended, also on April 26. Fico and Mills gave a presentation, “Building Data for Climate Change Adaptation,” describing the Hudson River Flood Impact Decision Support System mapping tool in the context of challenges posed by climate change. The mapping tool was also presented at an April 27 event, “Hudson River on the Rise: Waterfront Planning for Communities and Nature,” at the Henry A. Wallace Center of the FDR Presidential Library and Home in Hyde Park, New York. GIS programmer Kytt MacManus, who coordinated development of the tool for CIESIN, spoke about how the tool could be valuable in resiliency planning to an audience of about 200 Hudson Estuary riverfront stakeholders, including municipal officials, community leaders, landowners, planners, resource managers, regulators, developers, and private sector professionals.
Four new members have joined the User Working Group (UWG) of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN: Shaida Baidee of Open Data Watch; Douglas Comer of Cultural Site Research and Management, Inc. (CSRM); Dave Jones of StormCenter Communications, Inc.; and Lea Shanley of the South Big Data Innovation Hub. Baidee is co-founder and managing director of Open Data Watch, a non-governmental organization focused on monitoring and promoting open development data, and she previously served as director of the World Bank’s Development Data Group. Comer is an expert on remote sensing applications in archaeology, and is currently president of the International Scientific Committee for Archaeological Heritage Management (ICAHM). Jones is Chief Executive Officer, President, and Founder of StormCenter Communications, bringing to bear decades of experience in remote sensing, meteorology, and broadcasting, involving both the private and public sectors. Shanley recently became co-Executive Director of the South Big Data Innovation Hub funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation, after working on a range of geospatial technology and policy issues in government and academia in Washington DC. Chaired by Myron Gutmann of the Institute of Behavioral Science at the University of Colorado, the UWG provides guidance to SEDAC on user needs and priorities for data and services and helps SEDAC improve data quality and usability in both research and applications.
The World Data System (WDS) of the International Council for Science (ICSU), in collaboration with the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) and the Observatoire des Sciences de l’Univers de Grenoble (OSUG) and with support from the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), hosted a two-day exploratory meeting April 12–13 in Grenoble, France. The meeting, Data Initiatives in Africa—Opportunities and Challenges for Research and Sustainable Development, highlighted different data initiatives taking place in Africa, including those led by the IRD; presented the work of the WDS; and explored how the WDS might support development of data networks and the certification of data repositories. Two projects funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) were included among the presentations at the meeting. Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for science applications, gave a lightning talk on SERVIR West Africa, a joint venture between NASA and the USAID for which CIESIN serves as a subcontractor. SERVIR provides state-of-the-art, satellite-based earth monitoring data, geospatial information, and tools to help improve environmental decision-making in developing nations. Kenan Mogultay of the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change project (WA-BiCC), a five-year USAID-supported project which CIESIN also supports, described preliminary efforts to set up a clearinghouse mechanism for environmental data in West Africa.
CIESIN geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff (right) presents a poster on the Global Subnational Infant Mortality Rates, v2 (2014) data set at the 2017 American Association of Geographers annual meeting April 5. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications at CIESIN, is on the left.
The 2017 annual meeting of the American Association of Geographers (AAG) drew more than 9,000 geographers, spatial data experts, and other scientists and scholars from around the world to Boston April 5–9 to focus on the latest in research and applications in geography, sustainability, and geographic information science. Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for science applications, gave a presentation on mapping and modeling climate change migration, and served as a panelist in two separate sessions on environmental migration. Geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff presented a poster on the Global Subnational Infant Mortality Rates, v2 (2014) data set to be released in the near future by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN. As part of the Symposium on Human Dynamics in Smart and Connected Communities: Methods and Practices for Estimating Gridded Global Population held April 7, Greg Yetman, associate director for geospatial applications, described the High Resolution Settlement Layer (HRSL) data developed with Facebook’s Connectivity Lab. Haibin Xia of East China Normal University, who is visiting CIESIN this year, chaired a session on remote sensing techniques for understanding populations and culture and presented “The Spatial Distribution and Change of Chinese Population with Agent-based GIS” in this session.
CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs joined more than 600 data science researchers, scholars, librarians, and technologists in Barcelona, Spain, April 5–7 at the 9th Plenary Meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA). During the poster session, Downs presented “Evaluating and Documenting Interdisciplinary Data to Support Research and Applications,” co-authored with CIESIN director Robert Chen, and “Creative Commons Licensing of Gridded Population of the World Version 4 (GPWv4) Data at SEDAC,” co-authored with Chen and Rina Pantalony of the Copyright Advisory Office of the Columbia University Libraries. SEDAC is the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center managed by CIESIN. Downs was a co-convener for the proposed Data Versioning Interest Group session on data versioning, and gave a presentation on scientific data versioning at SEDAC. As a co-chair of the RDA Interest Group on Repository Platforms for Research Data (RPRD) Interest Group, he co-convened the group′s April 7 session, “IG Repository Platforms for Research Data,” at which he presented “Selection of FEDORA with VITAL as a Digital Repository Platform for Preserving Scientific Data.”
The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN recently released the 2016 update of the Natural Resource Protection and Child Health Indicators (NRPI-CHI), a data collection that supports the use of selection criteria to determine low-income countries’ eligibility for development assistance from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). For the past ten years, CIESIN has updated the NRPI-CHI annually as part of a diverse basket of indicators used by the MCC. To receive MCC funding, countries must perform above the median for low-income countries on a high proportion of indicators in three categories considered instrumental to good governance: ruling justly, investing in people, and encouraging economic freedom. The Natural Resource Protection Indicator (NRPI) and Child Health Indicator (CHI) are based on proximity-to-target scores ranging from 0 to 100 (at target). Each country is measured in terms of how close it gets to the target, which is defined for the NRPI as 17% coverage of terrestrial land area weighted by biome (the so-called Aichi Target of the Convention on Biological Diversity), and for the CHI as 100% coverage for access to water and sanitation, and child mortality levels that are equivalent to the highest performing country. The 2016 release includes a consistent time series of NRPI scores for 2012 to 2016 and CHI scores for 2010 to 2016.
The annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference tackled the theme, “Responsible Land Governance: Towards an Evidence-Based Approach,” March 20–24 in Washington, D.C. CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy chaired a session, “Reducing the Risks of Agribusiness Investment,” and also gave the presentation, “A Cost-Effective Approach to Meeting Data Needs for Multi-Purpose Land Governance in Africa,” in the session, “Using Remotely-sensed Data to Improve Land Use Efficiency.″ The presentation, co-authored with senior research scientist Markus Walsh, drew on examples from the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS) to show how a portfolio approach to data technology can generate more value than focusing on one data technology at a time. Levy leads CIESIN's participation in AfSIS; Walsh is its chief scientist. The Land and Poverty conference attracted more than 1,200 participants from government, academia, civil society, and the private sector from around the world involved in the land sector.
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