A Global Dialogue, “Big Data and Sustainable Development,” was convened by the UN Foundation at United Nations headquarters in New York City October 19. The event, organized in partnership with Amazon Web Services, brought together senior corporate executives, UN leaders, diplomats, academics, and nongovernmental experts to discuss how new partnerships around big data can help advance the international sustainable development agenda. CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in the Dialogue, providing perspectives on government-industry-academic collaboration in developing integrated data on settlements, infrastructure, and population distribution.
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Demand for hotspot maps will likely increase as decision makers seek to identify where impacts will be greatest and what adaptation measures, if any, are possible. This was one of the points of a presentation, “Mapping Climate Change Hot Spots,” given by research scientist Susana Adamo at the Workshop of the Advisory Committee of the Platform on Disaster Displacement in Geneva October 13–14. The presentation, co-authored with Alex Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, was part of a plenary session, “New Research, Knowledge and Data Initiatives.” According to de Sherbinin, “Seemingly innocent and value neutral, maps could play an important role in framing societal responses to climate change and its impacts in ways that are surely not neutral.”
CIESIN’s latest mapping tools and services, research, and data focused on human interactions with the environment were on view to nearly 3,000 visitors at the 2016 Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory Open House, held October 8 at the Lamont campus in Palisades, New York. CIESIN staff members demonstrated two new mapping tools for Jamaica Bay: AdaptMap, which focuses on flooding and sea level rise; and the Jamaica Bay Water Quality Data Visualization and Access Tool, to be released later this fall. Many visitors also viewed and downloaded the HazPop mobile app (available for iOS devices), which supports visualization of population exposure to selected hazards. Kids were able to take a "Pop Quiz" testing their knowledge about world population and plot where they live on a map. CIESIN′s tent also featured a “story map” on the development of the Gridded Population of the World data set, a photo essay on CIESIN's work on vulnerability to climate change in Sierra Leone, and information about the award-winning Connected Worlds exhibit at the New York Hall of Science, which CIESIN helped to develop. The Open House, usually held every other year, draws students, teachers, researchers, and the general public from the greater New York metropolitan area to enjoy, explore, and learn about the wide range of scientific research and applications undertaken by Lamont-based scientists and centers.
New versions of several mapping tools developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center have been released and updated with data from the latest iteration of the Gridded Population of the World data collection (GPWv4), as well as enhanced with other features.
The SEDAC MAP Client in its second version now implements a 4-window map view to facilitate comparison of approximately 15 different interdisciplinary data layers from SEDAC’s data holdings. The spatial extent shown in the four windows may be synchronized, or the windows can show different areas of one or more layers. Users may also switch between a single window and the four-window layout.
The latest version of the Web-based Population Estimation Service, which enables mapping tools to quickly obtain estimates of the number of people residing in an area of interest without having to download and analyze large amounts of spatial data, now uses GPWv4 data to provide population estimates and associate statistics for the years 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020. A new client application, the SEDAC Population Estimator, lets users draw a polygon or circle around an area of interest, and then obtain an estimate of the population in 2015 living in that area.
The mobile application, the Hazards and Population Mapper (HazPop), enables users to display recent data on hazards such as earthquakes and tornados in relationship to population, major infrastructure, and satellite imagery. A key feature of the app is the ability to obtain an estimate of the total population in proximity to the user′s current location or to a recent hazard event or other point of interest. Now, population estimation is based on the more up-to-date Gridded Population of the World, Version 4 (GPWv4) Population Count 2015 data set. In addition, the NASA Aqua only layer has been replaced by the NASA GIBS Aqua/Terra combined Aerosol Optical Depth layer. The HazPop mobile application is available through iTunes.
CIESIN staff participated in several recent NASA-sponsored workshops and meetings. On September 20-21, CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs attended the Global Hydrology Resource Center (GHRC) User Working Group technical interchange meeting in Huntsville, Alabama, to learn more about GHRC data, services, and data management practices. At the 3rd Satellite Soil Moisture Validation and Application Workshop in New York City September 21–22, remote sensing scientist Xue Liu presented the poster, “Multi-Sensor Satellite Soil Moisture Observations for Drought Assessment In Africa.″ Co-authored with deputy director Marc Levy, program coordinator Jen Mulvey, and Marcus Walsh of the Agriculture and Food Security Center, the poster illustrates the use of essential climate variable soil moisture (ECVSM) data to assess drought conditions across Africa. The work stems from CIESIN′s activities in support of the Africa Soil Information Service (AfSIS), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
At the Lamont campus September 22, CIESIN director Robert Chen gave an overview of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC), which he manages, at the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR) science team meeting hosted by Marco Tedesco of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO). The AMSR2 instrument is currently operating on the Global Change Observation Mission-Water (GCOM-W1) satellite of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and produces data valuable for monitoring precipitation, wind speed, snow and ice cover, soil moisture, and other environmental parameters. Near-real time AMSR data are available from the NASA Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE), and science-quality AMSR data are distributed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC). Representatives from JAXA, NSIDC, and GHRC (which supports the LANCE AMSR2 service) participated in the science team meeting.
On September 27-29, the Workshop to Develop a Portfolio of Low Latency Datasets for Time-Sensitive Applications was held at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. Chen and Greg Yetman, associate director for Geospatial Applications, joined a diverse group of remote sensing data providers, managers, and users to assess needs and priorities for improving the timeliness and utility of near-real time remote sensing data to support both research and societal applications. Chen chaired a breakout group on the second day of the meeting.
The Vienna Yearbook of Population Research 2015 (Volume 13) has published a special issue on “Demographic Differential Vulnerability to Climate-Related Disasters.” Edited by Raya Muttarak of the Wittgenstein Centre for Demography and Global Human Capital and Leiwen Jiang of Shangai University and the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, the special issue stems from a conference of the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), “Demographic Differential Vulnerability to Natural Disasters in the Context of Climate Change Adaptation,” held in Kao Lak, Thailand in April 2014. Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for Science Applications, and Guillem Bardy, project officer with the Agence Française de Développement, contributed the article, "Social vulnerability to floods in two coastal megacities: New York City and Mumbai." Bardy was a research intern at CIESIN in 2013 under the auspices of the Alliance Program, a joint venture between Columbia University and the École Polytechnique, Sciences Po, and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University. The Vienna Yearbook of Population Research is an online, open-access journal published by the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
The Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data launched its new Data4SDGs Digital Marketplace September 21 in conjunction with a United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) side event held at the Ford Foundation in New York City. As an Anchor Partner in the Global Partnership, CIESIN announced its data commitments through the new marketplace: 1) to maintain an active archive of global-scale spatial data containing high-quality, fully documented, standards-compliant, subnational data on key issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 2) to produce a "Living Manual" documenting proven and promising innovations that help countries to meet their SDG data needs; 3) to support a global community of practice to improve subnational data on population, settlements, and infrastructure for priority SDG applications; and 4) to provide open access tools and services for mapping and visualization of key sustainable development data layers and indicators to support applications, research, education, and training needs. The NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN is also featured as a resource in the Digital Marketplace. CIESIN director Robert Chen and deputy director Marc Levy attended the launch event September 21, as well as related meetings of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) in New York September 19–20. SDG data issues were also highlighted at the International Conference on Sustainable Development (ICSD2016) held at Columbia University September 21–22. The 17 SDGs were adopted by the international community in September 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
More than 800 data scientists, managers, and other experts gathered in Denver, Colorado for International Data Week, a joint event organized by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the World Data System (WDS) of the International Council for Science (ICSU) together with the Research Data Alliance (RDA). The week began on Sunday, September 11, with meetings of the WDS Members′ Forum and the CODATA Executive Committee. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave an oral presentation, “Sustainable Data to Support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” at the Forum. Together with senior digital archivist Robert Downs and associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin, he also presented a poster on the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, which is a regular member of the WDS. A second poster on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Data Distribution Centre (DDC) was prepared by Chen, in his capacity as DDC co-manager, with Charlotte Pascoe of the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis in the UK and Martina Stockhause of the World Data Centre-Climate in Germany.
SciDataCon 2016 held its opening plenary on the evening of September 11, during which Chen gave brief opening remarks as a representative of the U.S. scientific data community, including the U.S.-based WDS members and the U.S. National Committee for CODATA. Chen, de Sherbinin, and Downs organized and moderated sessions on the topics, “Communal Sharing of Research and Crowdsourced Data,” “Mapping Population Distribution and Human Settlements: Pushing Boundaries and Expanding Applications,” “Integrating Environmental and Socioeconomic Data in Support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” and “Auditing of Trustworthy Data Repositories.” Together with CIESIN associate director for geospatial applications Greg Yetman and GIS programmer Kytt MacManus, they authored or co-authored 10 different papers on various data science topics at the conference. Downs and Chen also demonstrated selected interactive services and tools as part of the ESIP Federation booth September 14–15.
During the second half of IDW, Chen, Downs, and MacManus attended the 8th RDA Plenary September 15–17, and de Sherbinin participated in a meeting of the WDS Scientific Committee September 16–17. Downs introduced the topics, data repository certification and data appraisal, during the session, “Archives and Research Professionals for Research Data,” on September 16 and presented “Scientific Data Versioning at the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center” during the Birds of a Feather (BOF) session on data versioning on September 17. Chen co-chaired a meeting of the RDA Legal Interoperability Interest Group on September 16, and participated in the Technical Advisory Board/Chairs meeting on September 17.
During International Data Week in Denver, Colorado September 13, CIESIN organized and hosted a working meeting on settlement, infrastructure, and population data, with 23 participants from 11 different groups around the world involved in developing, disseminating, and applying georeferenced population and infrastructure data in a growing range of application areas. The meeting sought to identify potential areas of collaboration and opportunities to improve data quality, accessibility, and usability for both research and applications. Participants included former CIESIN scientist Deborah Balk of Baruch College, Lamont research professor Christopher Small, and representatives from Facebook, Google Earth, Esri, ImageCat, Inc., the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the European Commission′s Joint Research Centre, and the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM). CIESIN director Robert Chen moderated the meeting, and associate directors Alex de Sherbinin and Greg Yetman and GIS programmer Kytt MacManus also participated. The side meeting was supported by a grant from the Earth Institute′s Cross-Cutting Initiative program and by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN.
In preparation for the upcoming 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP 22) of the United Nations Framework for Climate Change (UNFCCC), a preparatory seminar, “Migrations, Environment, and Climate Change: Perspectives of Human Mobility through 2050,” was held September 5–6 at the Palacio de las Aguas in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The seminar explored the links between climate change and migration through an exchange between specialists and public stakeholders. In the first plenary session CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo gave a presentation, “Situation and Global Trends of Environmental Migration and Climate Change.” The seminar was a joint initiative of COP 22 and the International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights (CIPDH) and was organized by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, the Secretary of Human Rights and Multiculturalism, the foundation of Sanitary Workers for Training and development, and the Department of Dialogue and Culture, all of Argentina.
CIESIN associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin and research scientist Alessandra Giannini of the International Resarch Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) participated in a work planning meeting for the new SERVIR-West Africa Regional Hub at the Agriculture, Hydrology and Meteorology Regional Center (AGRHYMET) in Niamey, Niger, August 30–September 2. CIESIN and IRI are providing technical assistance in geospatial technologies and climate science, as part of a team led by Tetra Tech Inc. NASA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the SERVIR-West Africa hub in July 2016 to strengthen monitoring of the environment in West Africa.
CIESIN associate director for geospatial applications Greg Yetman gave a lightning talk, “Mapping the Environment,″ at the Facebook event, “Data for Good,” held August 26 at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California. The talk highlighted many examples of innovative data efforts to map environmental and demographic change from local to global levels, including a selection of data and tools available from various CIESIN projects. The event aimed to identify promising opportunities for generating data visualizations to inform innovations in development, humanitarian action, and government planning.
Users of the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) are again invited to participate in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey for the NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). The annual survey assesses user satisfaction with the data, tools, and support provided by EOSDIS data centers and services. SEDAC, which serves a wide range of basic and applied users interested in the integration of remote sensing and socioeconomic data, is one of the data centers evaluated by the survey. Survey results help to justify NASA′s continuing investment in EOSDIS data services and support, and enable SEDAC to address problems, improve data and services, and identify high priority user needs and concerns.
All SEDAC users are encouraged to participate in the survey. Beginning September 1, users with an Earthdata user name registered with SEDAC will receive an e-mail invitation from the Claes Fornell International (CFI) Group on behalf of NASA, requesting participation in the survey. The questionnaire takes approximately 10 minutes to complete, and optional comment fields are provided to address user concerns. The identity of respondents is not shared with SEDAC. Anyone who has used SEDAC data or information resources, including not only the SEDAC Web site itself but also the HazPop mobile app available from the iTunes store or other SEDAC resources available through Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, or third-party map clients, may take the survey. If you did not receive an invitation but wish to participate in the survey please write to SEDAC User Services at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will pass your contact information on to the CFI Group.
The updated Population Estimation Service uses data from the Gridded Population of the World version 4 (GPWv4) data collection to quickly obtain estimates of the number of people residing in an area defined by the user.
If you've ever wondered how many people might be affected by an earthquake or tsunami, or what the total population is in a major metropolitan region, the new version of the Population Estimation Service (PES) can provide you with those answers. The PES is a Web-based service that enables mapping tools to quickly obtain estimates of the number of people residing in an area of interest, without having to download and analyze large amounts of spatial data. The latest version of PES, available through the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, draws on data from SEDAC′s recently released Gridded Population of the World, version 4 (GPWv4) data collection. It provides population estimates and associate statistics for the years 2000, 2005, 2010, 2015, and 2020. A new client application, the SEDAC Population Estimator, enables users to draw a polygon or circle around an area of interest, and then obtain an estimate of the population in 2015 living in that area. Other SEDAC mapping tools such as the HazPop mobile app also utilize the updated PES, supporting analysis and visualization of population data in conjunction with remote sensing imagery and other types of data such as the location of critical infrastructure. The PES was first released in 2010.
Following up on a visit March 2016 to New York City by representatives from the Center for Regional Agriculture and Rural Development (CRARD), on August 23 a CIESIN delegation visited CRARD, part of the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a brief overview of CIESIN research, data, and other activities to CRARD staff, and then signed a letter of agreement with CRARD’s director, Prof. Yansui Liu. The letter affirms plans by the two organizations to collaborate on topics of mutual interest related to poverty mapping, land resource management, agricultural sustainability, soil mapping, and applications of remote sensing and geospatial technologies. Also visiting were CIESIN associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin, and information scientist Xiaoshi Xing. Yuanyuan Yang, a research assistant at CRARD who was a visiting scholar at CIESIN during 2013–2015, facilitated development of the partnership.
CIESIN director Robert Chen, associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin, and information scientist Xiaoshi Xing joined thousands of geographers from around the world at the 33rd International Geographical Congress (IGC) August 22–23. Held at the China National Convention Center in Beijing, the IGC focused on the theme “Shaping Our Harmonious Worlds.” Chen gave an invited talk August 22 , “The Power of Indicators to Track Environmental Performance and the SDGs,” co-authored with de Sherbinin and CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy, in the special session, “Global Environment: UNEP-CODATA-Sponsored.” The session was co-organized by Jinhua Zhang of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Liu Chuang of the Institute for Geographical Science and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR). On August 23, Chen presented, “Integrating Multidisciplinary Data to Address Complex Urban Challenges in a Changing Global Environment,” in a session, “Advances in Urban Physical Geography,” organized by Prof. Min Liu of East China Normal University (ECNU). In the same session, Xing gave a presentation, “Mapping and Geospatial Analysis of the Model Estimates of Emissions from Fossil Fuel Power Plants and Impacts to Urban Population in China,” co-authored with CIESIN geographic information specialist Dara Mendeloff and two former interns from École Polytechnique in France. In a later session in the series, de Sherbinin described work assessing flood risk in three mega-cities, New York, Mumbai, and Shanghai. Chen also gave a brief intervention in the International Geographical Union (IGU)-CODATA Joint Round Table Session on Data Publishing and Sharing in Developing Countries. Prof. Liu Chuang is co-chair of the CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in/for/with Developing Countries (PASTD) and a former scientist at CIESIN when it was a non-profit organization based in Michigan.
Representatives from the Center for Regional Agriculture and Rural Development (CRARD) Yansui Lui, director (far right) and Yuanyuan Yang, research assistant (far left) with CIESIN researchers Alex de Sherbinin, associate director for science applications (second from left) and Pinki Mondal, senior research associate (second from right), at the International Conference on Land Use and Rural Sustainability held August 18–20 in Xi'an, China.
CIESIN associate director Alex de Sherbinin and senior research associate Pinki Mondal attended the International Conference on Land Use and Rural Sustainability held August 18–20 in Xi'an, China. A keynote address on spatial indicators of land degradation was presented by de Sherbinin, and Mondal served as session chair and discussant for two sessions. She also presented a paper, ″Quantifying Fluctuations in Winter Predictive Cropped Area in the Central India Highlands.″ The conference was organized by the Institute for Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research (IGSNRR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, several Chinese universities, and the International Geographical Union.
Attendees at the Shanghai Forum on Climate Change and Cities, August 19, where the opening ceremony for a new east Asian regional hub of UCCRN was held, hosted by East China Normal University.
A new regional hub of the Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) has been established at East China Normal University (ECNU) in Shanghai. CIESIN has also developed a collaborative relationship with the ECNU School of Geographic Sciences, focused on common research interests related to disasters, environment, and geographic science and applications.
The opening ceremony for the UCCRN regional hub at ECNU, which will serve as an Asian focal point for research on climate change and cities, was held August 19 at ECNU as part of the Shanghai Forum on Climate Change and Cities. CIESIN director Robert Chen, associate director for science applications Alex de Sherbinin, and information scientist Xiaoshi Xing participated in the forum, together with the UCCRN international program manager, Somayya Ali Ibrahim, and other scientists from ECNU, Columbia University, Princeton University, and the University of Southampton. Chen gave a brief overview of CIESIN’s urban climate change activities, de Sherbinin gave a presentation on flood risk in coastal mega-cities, and Xing described the observed impacts data available from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Data Distribution Center (DDC) co-managed by CIESIN.
Prof. Min Liu, dean of the School of Geographic Sciences at ECNU, is co-directing the regional hub together with Xiaotu Lei of the China Meteorological Administration. Faculty member Ruishan Chen, a visiting scholar at CIESIN during 2011–2013, was appointed as coordinator of the UCCRN regional hub. Established in May 2007 by Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) and Columbia University, and by William Solecki of Hunter College, the UCCRN is a consortium of individuals and institutions dedicated to the analysis of climate change mitigation and adaptation from an urban perspective.
CIESIN’s collaboration with ECNU will focus on disaster risk assessment and management, remote sensing applications, urbanization and climate change, and environmental pollution. A letter of agreement was signed by Prof. Liu and director Chen at a signing ceremony August 22 in Beijing. The collaboration is expected to encompass joint workshops, exchange of visitors, and collaborative research activities.
CIESIN joins the geoinformatics and geology communities in mourning the sudden passing of M. Lee Allison, Arizona State geologist and director of the Arizona Geological Survey, on August 16. Allison was a key figure in the e-Infrastructure and Data Management activities of the Belmont Forum and in the EarthCube initiative of the National Science Foundation. He was also active in Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP Federation), OneGeology, and the Geological Society of America. His vision and leadership will be sorely missed.
The Sixth Session of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (UN-GGIM) was held at UN headquarters in New York City August 3–5, with several side events scheduled August 1–2. CIESIN was an observer at the UNGGIM plenary session, and contributed to discussions about the establishment of a new UN-GGIM Academic Network. CIESIN director Robert Chen, associate director for geospatial applications Greg Yetman, GIS programmer Kytt MacManus, and intern David Hugens participated in several side events and in the plenary. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) recently adopted a resolution strengthening the UN-GGIM and its institutional arrangements on geospatial information management. CIESIN is a nongovernmental organization recognized by ECOSOC.
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