The political and social dimensions of data collection and sharing was the theme of the Data Diplomacy Workshop October 28–29 at the New York Academy of Medicine in New York City. CIESIN senior digital archivist Robert Downs co-moderated a discussion on data curation and access and gave a presentation, “Data Diplomacy Considerations for the Data Curation Lifecycle.” The workshop was organized by the University of Rochester and sponsored by the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN), in collaboration with the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the World Data System (WDS) of the International Council for Science (ICSU) and others.
|2 of 19|
The twenty-third meeting of the Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was held October 26–28 in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. CIESIN director Robert Chen participated in the meeting as an ex officio member of the TGICA, in his capacity as co-manager of the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC). The TGICA is working to make key data sets from the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) available through the DDC and to provide guidance information and other resources to facilitate access to and use of data and scenarios by the international community. The meeting was hosted by the University of Cape Town and included a special session on South African data and scenario needs.
CIESIN′s senior digital archivist, Robert Downs, attended the Best Practices Exchange 2015 at The State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg October 20, where he co-convened the session, “Rescuing Early Digital Assets and Preserving Data Rescue Capabilities,” with Christopher Muller of Muller Media Conversions. During the session, Downs described a number of data rescue efforts conducted by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) over the past two decades, including data from early Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). The Best Practices Exchange is an online community for librarians, archivists, records managers and other information professionals dedicated to managing digital information in government and non-government settings.
CIESIN research scientist Susana Adamo participated in the Nansen Initiative Global Consultation October 12–13 in Geneva, Switzerland, as a member of the Consultative Committee. Hosted by the Governments of the Swiss Confederation and the Kingdom of Norway, the Consultation brought together more than 350 delegates, including government ministers and officials from over 100 countries as well as representatives of 13 international and non-governmental organizations and more than 35 academic and civil society institutions. The Consultation reviewed and endorsed a non-binding Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change. The Protection Agenda articulates three priorities: collecting data and enhancing knowledge; enhancing the use of humanitarian protection measures; and strengthening the management of disaster displacement risk in the country of origin. Adamo and CIESIN associate director for science applications, Alex de Sherbinin, contributed to a number of previous regional and civil society meetings that led up to the Global Consultation, which marked the end of the Nansen Initiative in its current form.
Nearly 500 scientists, engineers, technologists, and environmental managers from around the world gathered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 5–9 for the 9th Symposium of the International Society for Digital Earth. Greg Yetman, CIESIN associate director for geospatial applications, gave a talk on modeling the distribution of global human population in a session on the human dimensions of a “digital Earth.” The conference facilitated the sharing of concepts, research findings, technologies, and practical applications supporting the digital Earth vision, with a particular focus on applications related to Nova Scotian expertise in ocean and atmospheric sciences.
CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy moderated a side event, “Enabling the Data Revolution in the Americas” at the Eye on Earth Summit 2015 held in Abu Dhabi October 6-8.
Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was the venue October 6–8 for the Eye on Earth Summit 2015, an international conference organized by the Eye on Earth Alliance to address the global challenge of increasing access to information to support sustainable development. CIESIN director Robert Chen and deputy director Marc Levy participated actively in the Summit, highlighting CIESIN′s experience in interdisciplinary data integration and indicator development and contributing to the Summit′s outcome statement. Chen moderated a session, “Innovations in Data Supply: Big Data and How to Manage It.″ Levy gave a presentation, “Data Needs for the Sustainable Development Goals: Preparing for Pluralism.″ He also moderated a panel, “Data Integration for Effective Monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals,” and chaired a side event, “Enabling the Data Revolution in the Americas.”
The Eye on Earth Alliance is an international coalition led by five organizations: the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) through the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI); the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); the Group on Earth Observations (GEO); the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) ; and the World Resources Institute (WRI). At the conclusion of the Summit, the Alliance committed to “guarantee the free and open access to environmental and societal data” and to “assist and guide the global community in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Andrew Tatem, director of the WorldPop project and the Flowminder Foundation, visited CIESIN October 7 for a presentation on mapping population distributions and characteristics at high spatial and temporal resolutions. Tatem, who is also an associate professor of geography at the University of Southhampton, England, gave an overview of the WorldPop project, which aims to provide an open access archive of spatial demographic data sets for Central and South America, Africa, and Asia. WorldPop supports development, disaster response, and health applications through the provision of detailed and open access modeled population distribution data sets built using open and peer-reviewed methods. Flowminder focuses on analysis of mobile phone data to reap insights into population dynamics.
Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN associate director for science applications, and research scientist Susana Adamo were part of an expert group meeting convened by the United Nations Population Division October 5–6 at United Nations headquarters in New York City. The meeting, “Strengthening the Demographic Evidence Base for the Post-2015 Development Agenda,” was organized to inform a report by the UN Secretary General to be presented to the 49th session of the Commission on Population and Development (CPD) in April 2016. The meeting reviewed the ability of typical sources of demographic data, such as censuses, surveys, civil registration and vital statistics systems, and administrative records, to meet the needs of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda recently adopted by the UN General Assembly. Experts were asked to consider how new types of data might complement more traditional data sources. Adamo and de Sherbinin presented a note, “CIESIN’s Experience Mapping Population and Poverty,” to session six of the meeting, “Data disaggregation and utilization challenges: Prospects for the integration of multiple data sources to produce estimates for different geographical scales and time periods.”
The American Geographical Society (AGS) is again partnering with the Earth Institute and other organizations to hold its Fall Symposium, “Geography 2050: Exploring Our Future in an Urbanized World,” at the Columbia University Morningside Heights campus November 19–20. The symposium will bring together leaders from diverse sectors of business, government, science, and education for discussion and debate about the implications of radically changing geographies of urban habitats over the next few decades. Featured speakers include Joan Clos, executive director of UN-Habitat; Lee Schwartz, the geographer of the United States; Audrey Singer, Senior Fellow with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program; and Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute. CIESIN director Robert Chen will moderate a session, “Cities at Risk of Disaster.″
On September 27 in New York City, the 193 Member-States of the United Nations committed to meeting 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the year 2030. The following day, the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data was launched, a multi-stakeholder group consisting of governments, civil society, private sector, international organizations, academic, statistical and data communities, and networks. The Partnership aims to work together to strengthen inclusivity, trust, and innovation in the way that data are used to address sustainable development. CIESIN is one of more than 70 “Champions″ that have made specific commitments to further the work of the Partnership in key areas, including improving the effective use of data, filling key data gaps, expanding data literacy and capacity, increasing data openness, and mobilizing political will and resources. At the launch event, CIESIN director Robert Chen gave a one-minute commitment statement on behalf of both CIESIN and the Group on Earth Observations (GEO). CIESIN has begun working with GEO, the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), and other Champions to ensure that the vast expertise, data resources, and capabilities of the science and Earth Observations communities will be integrated into efforts to develop and implement SDG indicators and to support sustainable development data needs at all levels of decision making.
A major international conference and several working meetings were held at the Columbia University Morningside Heights campus September 23–24 in the lead-up to the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Summit 2015 on September 25–27, just prior to the UN General Assembly meeting. The 2015 International Conference on Sustainable Development brought together a range of world leaders with more than 1500 stakeholders from government, academia, international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and grassroots organizers to share practical solutions for the achievement of more sustainable and inclusive societies. CIESIN director Robert Chen moderated a plenary panel, “Monitoring the SDGs: Are OECD Countries Ready?,″ which included ambassadors from the U.S. and Germany and other experts on measurement of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Deputy director Marc Levy gave a presentation, “Planetary Boundaries and Peacebuilding: Separating Myth from Reality,” in a parallel session on planetary boundaries.
In conjunction with the conference, the new thematic group, Data for Sustainable Development, established by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), met for the first time, co-chaired by Enrique Giovanni, University of Rome Tor Vergata; Shaida Baidee, Open Data Watch; and Chen. Levy and senior program manager Alex Fischer also participated in the meeting, outlining initial plans for specific project activities to be carried out under the auspices of the thematic group. Chen also participated in part of the SDSN Leadership Council meeting on September 24, to help report on the plans for the data group. The SDSN Leadership Council acts as the board of the SDSN and includes eminent experts on sustainable development from academia, business, civil society, and the public sector from around the world.
Each year, NASA commissions an online satisfaction survey of users of its Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) data, tools, and support. Registered users of the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, which is one of the EOSDIS data centers, should receive an e-mail invitation from the CFI Group requesting feedback on SEDAC data products and services. This year’s survey is shorter than previous surveys, but now has some optional questions for SEDAC users. For further information on the survey, please contact SEDAC User Services.
Environmental geographer Pinki Mondal has joined CIESIN’s Science Applications Division as a senior research associate, where she will be contributing to a number of CIESIN projects and activities and continuing her work with collaborators from Columbia and New York University. Previously a postdoctoral research scientist in the DeFries Lab at Columbia's Department of Ecology, Evolution & Environmental Biology, Mondal has a PhD in land change science from the University of Florida. She is currently co-editing, with Harini Nagendra and Ruth DeFries, a Special Section, “Livelihood impacts and adaptation of rural communities to climate change in India,” to be published in Current Science. This fall she is also teaching a course on physical geography at the City University of New York (City College campus). Earlier this year, Mondal collaborated with CIESIN on the development of satellite-derived environmental indicators related to land-surface temperature and urban heat islands, to be released by the NASA Socieconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC).
A new online mapping tool, the SEDAC Hazards Mapper, enables users to easily display recent natural hazard data in relationship to population, human settlements, major infrastructure, and satellite imagery. Hazards data include the location of active fires over the past 48 hours; earthquake alerts over the past seven days; flood and tornado warnings in the U.S. in near real-time; and yesterday′s air pollution data measured from space. The mapper shows the location of major dams and nuclear power plants and provides more detailed information and imagery for these facilities where available. By drawing a circle or polygon around a point or area of interest on the map, users can obtain an estimate of the total population and land area enclosed within.
Developed by the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center operated by CIESIN, the SEDAC Hazards Mapper combines layers from various sources including NASA's Land, Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE) and Global Imagery Browse Services (GIBS), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Esri, and others, using a variety of open Web mapping services. The population and settlement data are based on SEDAC′s Gridded Population of the World, version 3 (GPWv3) data for 2005 and the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP) data collection. The custom population estimates are provided by the SEDAC Population Estimation Service (PES). SEDAC plans to add more hazard and infrastructure layers and update the population data in early 2016.
The mapper is designed to be used by disaster risk managers, humanitarian response organizations, public health professionals, journalists, and others needing a quick assessment of the potential dangers posed by a major hazardous event or developing emergency. For example, a disaster response agency can obtain a rough estimate of the population and major facilities near a recent earthquake or a predicted flood as an input into response planning. Journalists or students can explore the location of recent wildfires relative to human settlements, dense populations, roads, terrain, and water bodies. Due to the coarse resolution and varying quality of some of the data, the mapper is not intended to support in-depth risk assessment or location-specific response needs.
A Fulbright-Nehru postdoctoral fellow from India and a visiting staff associate from Romania have begun appointments at CIESIN. Saleem Khan is spending one year at CIESIN to conduct research on communicating the risks of sea level rise and engaging urban stakeholders in framing community-based adaptation strategies, working with associate director for Science Applications Alex de Sherbinin and director Robert Chen. Khan received his PhD in climate change sciences from the Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation Research, Anna University, in Chennai, India. In 2013 he was selected as a Next Generation Climate Change Scholar, part of an initiative by the National Science Foundation and NASA to acknowledge the critical value of interdisciplinary and communications skills in climate change research.
Bogdan-Mihai Cîrlugea is working with de Sherbinin until mid-February next year, assessing the accuracy of OpenStreetMap road data for integration into the Global Roads Open Access Data Set (gROADS) as the basis for his master’s thesis. He has a bachelor’s of engineering from Polytechnic University of Timisoara in Romania and is currently getting his master’s in environmental engineering, with a specialization in environmental modeling and monitoring, at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausannne (EPFL) in Switzerland. Cîrlugea recently completed an internship for CSD Engineers in Lausanne, a leading engineering consulting enterprise in Switzerland, where he provided geographic information systems support to projects ranging from noise pollution assessment and mitigation projects to territorial energy planning.
Former CIESIN research scientist Deborah Balk has been featured in the NASA Earthdata User Profile series. Balk, a professor at Baruch School of Public Affairs, City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center Doctoral Programs in Public Health, Sociology, and Economics, is also associate director of the CUNY Institute of Demographic Research. She studies urbanization in the developing world, using a spatial framework to explore the demographic implications of climate-change issues. She and her team continue to use data from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) operated by CIESIN, notably Gridded Population of the World and the Global Rural-Urban Mapping Project data collection, which she helped to develop while serving as SEDAC’s lead project scientist. She is currently a member of SEDAC’s User Working Group.
A Webinar in which CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy participated, “Peace, Conflict, and the Scale of the Climate Risk Landscape,” is now online. Levy’s presentation, “What We Worry about When We Worry about Climate and Security, and Why?” identified concerns related to climate and security, and the reasons behind these concerns. He also discussed causal links to violence, and systemic instability as a factor undermining security, among other issues. Fellow presenters included Joshua Busby, associate professor of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and Christine Parthemore, director for climate and food security at the Center for American Progress. The Webinar, which was originally convened by Arizona State University on August 25, was introduced by Edward Saltzberg, president of Security and Sustainability Forum, and moderated by Nadya Bliss, director of the Global Security Initiative.
Users of the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) Web site should note that a planned outage of the NASA User Registration System will occur Wednesday, August 26, 2015, beginning approximately 8:10 am ET and estimated to end by 8:20 am ET. During this brief down time, users will not be able to download data. For any issues or concerns related to the outage, please contact SEDAC User Services at email@example.com.
CIESIN has recently welcomed a visiting senior research scientist from Brazil, Douglas Sathler, to its Science Applications Division, and a senior research staff assistant, Alyssa Fico, to the Geospatial Applications Division. Sathler is a professor with the Institute of Humanities at Brazil’s Universidade Federal dos Vales do Jequitinhonha e Mucuri (UFVJM), Diamantina, Minas Gerais. He earned his BA in geography at Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais and PhD in demography at its Center for Development and Regional Planning (CEDEPLAR). He coordinates the network, Population, Space, and Environment, of the Brazilian Association of Population Studies, and is chief editor of Revista Espinhaço, a journal of geography and geosciences. During his year at CIESIN, Sathler will work with research scientist Susana Adamo on issues related to migration and environment, and cities and climate change.
Alyssa Fico graduated from Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, with a BA in Biology and a NYC teaching certification for science education in grades K through 12. After teaching in middle and high schools in the South Bronx Public School system, she earned an MPA from Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs within their Environmental Science and Policy program. Formerly a casual employee at CIESIN, Fico will continue to work on various projects including the Ecological Assessment of the Hudson River and the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center.
The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations, has established a new thematic group, Data for Sustainable Development. The group is co-chaired by Shaida Badiee of Open Data Watch, Enrico Giovannini of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, and Robert Chen, CIESIN director. The group will serve as an information and education network on data collection, processing, and dissemination for sustainable development, seeking to identify solution-oriented approaches to measuring progress on the SDGs, to strengthen the cross-sectoral and multi-scale analysis of data for SDG monitoring, and to encourage greater frequency and quality of data production and monitoring. It is expected that the group will also serve as a technical advisory committee to the new Global Partnership on Sustainable Development Data to be launched next month.
|2 of 19|