Development, Dissemination, and Use

Organizers: CIESIN, FAO, UNEP, WHO, and CGIAR
Co-Sponsors: CODATA and SEDAC
Dates: 21-23 September 2004
Venue: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
Palisades, New York, USA

Download the Workshop Report (50 pages, 425 KB, PDF)

Workshop presentations are available online. Please scroll down to the table below and click on the links to download presentations in PDF.

Many different global- and regional-scale datasets on the environment and human development are being developed and disseminated by a range of institutions around the world. With the increasing use of more open, interactive mapping servers and greater capabilities by users to access and utilize large global datasets comes the potential for increased problems related to inconsistent data integration and visualization, variable data quality and documentation, uncoordinated proliferation of different versions of data sets, unnecessary duplication of effort, excessively complex restrictions on data re-dissemination and use, and incomplete or incorrect citation and attribution of data.

This workshop brought a core set of institutions actively involved in global spatial data and information development and dissemination together with representatives of key user communities to address both short- and long-term needs for coordination and collaboration. The overall purpose of the workshop was to coordinate spatial data and information dissemination among key actors in the global data community in order to better meet user needs at global as well as regional and national levels.

The three-day workshop was co-organized by the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). CIESIN’s NASA-funded Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) served as the local host. The workshop was also co-sponsored by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

The workshop addressed five principal areas with regards to the production, dissemination, and use of global data sets:

  1. Stock taking of global data sets and identification of significant gaps and overlaps in the following thematic areas: environment; food and agriculture; population, poverty and health.
  2. Standardization/harmonization of spatial data and information, including:
    a. Standards and conventions for mapping and GIS (e.g., consistent projections, scales, boundary files, etc.).
    b. Additional information on data sets (beyond discovery metadata) that would facilitate their appropriate use (e.g., data set guides).
  3. Identification of user needs for online services, and for education and capacity building in how to use those services.
  4. Flexible user access through interoperability and open standards of both catalog searching and Internet mapping.
  5. Integration of biophysical and socioeconomic data, including substantive and methodological issues.

Workshop presentations can be downloaed from the table below.


Tuesday, 21 September

Identification of User Needs

0900-0915 Welcome by Roberta Balstad Miller, CIESIN

Setting the Stage: Principal Goals and Objectives of the Workshop

Robert Chen (CIESIN): Global Spatial Data and Information User Workshop: Goals and Objectives
Global Spatial Data and Information User Workshop: Goals and Objectives
Jeffrey Tschirley (FAO): The Spatial Information Advisory Group (SIMAG)
The Spatial Information Advisory Group (SIMAG)

Opening Plenary Panel: Access to Global Spatial Data and Information from the User’s Perspective

During the last decade, technological advancements in remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and other geospatial data management tools in tandem with development of the Internet have contributed to the creation of many global and regional spatial databases, online mapping services and geospatial data clearinghouses. However, the dramatic expansion of this wealth of geographic data and information has not necessarily been matched by increases in the ability of users to take full advantage of the available resources, or to make sense of similar products. This plenary panel sets the stage for the workshop by addressing user needs for data access and documentation.

Chair: Stanley Wood (IFPRI)


Dennis Ojima
(Colorado State University)
Global Environmental Change Science
Global Environmental Change Science
Robert Ford
(Loma Linda University)
Who Needs Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)?
Who Needs Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI)?
Jillian Thonell
(Millennium Ecosystem Assessment)
Global Data Challenges from an MA Perspective
Global Data Challenges from an MA Perspective
Craig Beech
(Regional Peace Parks Foundation)
Peace Parks Foundation Requirements for Global Data
Peace Parks Foundation Requirements for Global Data
1045-1100 Coffee Break

Presentations: Global Spatial Data and Information Dissemination Initiatives

Short presentations on selected major data development and dissemination initiatives for main topical areas.

Chair: Roberta Miller (CIESIN)
Robert Zomer (IWMI) Agriculture and Food Security
Agriculture and Food Security
Ashbindu Singh (UNEP) Environment
Steeve Ebener (WHO) Health
Deborah Balk (CIESIN) Population and Poverty
Population and Poverty

Optional lunch-time presentations:

  1. Demonstration of the TerraViva! SEDAC Data Viewer – Ric Cicone (ISciences LLC)
  2. Information Available at the Center for Environmental Systems Research (CESR), University of Kassel, Germany (572KB) - Joerg Priess (CESR)
  3. FAO's Global Livestock Distribution Mapping Project (2.3MB) – Tim Robinson (FAO)

Open Discussion: Selection of breakout topics and discussion on targeted outcomes of the workshop. Proposed breakout topics are:

Chair: Robert Chen (CIESIN): Overview of Breakout Sessions (18KB)

1. Principles for data sharing and access. Chair: Paul Uhlir (NRC)

2. Gaps in global data and collaboration in data development. Chair: Uwe Deichmann (World Bank)

3. Data search, discovery, and documentation; role of portals. Chair: Ron Weaver (NSIDC)

4. Technical data interoperability. William Anderson (Praxis101)

5. Science data integration. Chair: Glenn Hyman (CIAT)

1500-1700 Breakout Session 1. Identification of major issues for each topic. (coffee break at 1600)
1700-1730 Report to plenary on issues identified in breakout session
1745-1800 Transportation to dinner
1800 Dinner with keynote speaker (Harlan Onsrud, GSDI)
2000 Transportation to hotels

Wednesday, 22 September

Global Data Sets – Gaps, Standardization and Integration Issues


Presentation of a test bed activity in Mozambique (FAO/SADC RRSU/SETSAN)

  1. Environmental and Natural Resources Management for Food Security and Poverty Alleviation (1.5MB) - France Lamy (FAO)
  2. Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping Spatial Information Environment (VAM-SIE) (398KB) - Paolo De Salvo (World Food Program)

Plenary Panel:  Inventories of Global Spatial Data, Standardization, Search, Portal Development

The presentation on the first day highlighted many activities related to the development and dissemination of global data sets. This plenary will discuss core data sets for sustainable development research and operational programs, efforts to develop standards, and the development of portals and online mapping tools for data access.

Chair: Steeve Ebener (WHO)
Joseph Dooley
(Spatial Data Services & Mapping)
Core Global or Geo-Spatial Databases (CGDB)
Core Global or Geo-Spatial Databases (CGDB)
Alan Doyle
Closing the Interoperability Gap
Closing the Interoperability Gap
Richard Cicone
(ISciences, LLC)
Geospatial Data Fusion: Integration Challenges
Geospatial Data Fusion: Integration Challenges
Chris Chiesa
(Pacific Disaster Center)
The Asia Pacific Natural Hazards Information Network (APNHIN)
The Asia Pacific Natural Hazards Information Network (APNHIN)
Kees Klein Goldewijk (RIVM) Global Spatial Data Sets and User Needs at RIVM
The Asia Pacific Natural Hazards Information Network (APNHIN)
1045-1100 Coffee Break
1100-1230 Breakout Session 2. Groups based on topics identified on day 1. Identification of challenges and opportunities. Recommendations for short- and medium-term actions and initiatives, including identification of possible sources of support, collaborative proposals.

Optional lunch-time presentations:

  1. The IRI Data Library - Benno Blumenthal (IRI, Columbia University)
  2. BAS on the Web: the WebBAS system for online updates to TIGER/GML features - Joshua Lieberman
1400-1530 Breakout Session 2 (continued). Focus on fleshing out candidate agreements; plans for new datasets, testbeds and portals; proposals to adopt or develop particular standards, etc.
1530-1545 Coffee Break

Roundtable Discussion: Potential Roles for Global Data Coordination Mechanisms

Chair: Alex de Sherbinin (CIESIN)

1. UN Geographic Information Working Group (277KB) – Steeve Ebener

2. Digital Earth (8MB) – Hiromichi Fukui

3. Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) (125KB) – Harlan Onsrud

4. Spatial Information Management Advisory Group – Jeffrey Tschirley

5. International Steering Committee for Global Map (2.6MB) – Karen Kline

6. CODATA – John Rumble

1710 Transportation to hotels, Morningside

Thursday, 23 September

Global Data Sets – The Way Forward

0830-0930 Report out from Day 2 Breakout Sessions:
Identification of specific action items and initiatives.

Plenary Panel:  Data Documentation, Quality, Preservation, and Intellectual Property Rights

Institutional efforts related to data development, management, and dissemination need to be carried out in a coordinated way, or the potential for poor interoperability between information systems, incompatibilities between key datasets, confusing or even conflicting data documentation, and complex constraints on data re-dissemination and use is likely to increase. This plenary will address these issues.

Chair: Robert Sandev (UN)
Jean-Louis Ecochard
(The Nature Conservancy)
The Conservation Commons
The Conservation Commons
James Edwards
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility: Data Documentation, Quality, Preservation and IPR
The Global Biodiversity Information Facility: Data Documentation, Quality, Preservation and IPR
Paul Uhlir
(National Research Council)
Creating a Global Information Commons for Public GSDI: Legal and Economic Policy Aspects
Creating a Global Information Commons for Public GSDI: Legal and Economic Policy Aspects
1045-1100 Coffee Break

Concluding Discussion:  Major outcomes and the way forward. Open discussion.

Chair: Robert Chen (CIESIN)

1220-1230 Close of Meeting
1230 Transportation to Manhattan, airports
1230-1400 Lunch
1415 Transportation to Manhattan, airports


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