Saturday, January 30, 2010

NRC study underway on USGS spatial data strategy

 The National Research Council is conducting a study ("Spatial Data Enabling USGS Strategic Science in the 21st Century") for the USGS on their science strategy for spatial data.   The committee is still accepting comments at least for the next couple of weeks.

Project Scope:
This study will examine progress made in establishing spatial data infrastructures and the challenges faced by those infrastructures, within the context of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. The study will examine the role that the USGS can play in continuing to ensure access to high quality geospatial data and support its use in scientific analyses and decision-making through a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) construct.

The committee will undertake three main tasks:

(1) identify existing knowledge and document lessons learned during previous efforts to develop SDIs and their support of scientific endeavors;

(2) develop a vision for optimizing an SDI to organize, integrate, access, and use scientific data; and

(3) create a roadmap to guide the USGS in accomplishing the vision within the scope of the USGS Science Strategy.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Google and NOAA team up to display ocean and climate data

NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research announced that they and Google "have signed a cooperative research and development agreement outlining how they will work together to create state-of-the-art visualizations of scientific data to illustrate how our planet works."

This strikes me as another indication of the convergence towards a common data capabilities in the spatially-based sciences.

The areas that NOAA and Google will cooperate on include:
  • Engaging the public in ongoing and historic scientific expeditions including those of the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer;
  • Compiling and improving bathymetric datasets to display in Google Earth and make available for downloading;
  • Expanding NOAA efforts to publish oceanographic data, especially data from the NOAA-led Integrated Ocean Observing System;
  • Expanding NOAA efforts to publish climate data, especially data from the greenhouse gas monitoring system;
  • Increasing the amount of data available for NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, an educational Earth science display system, [] by adapting it to display files in the Keyhole Markup Language, the file format Google Earth and Google Maps use for geographic data; and
  • Providing interactive access to marine zoning and regulatory information concerning regions such as continental shelf boundaries and marine protected areas.

Monday, January 18, 2010

OneGeology blog and twitter

Ian Jackson, coordinator of the OneGeology consortium, is now blogging and tweeting.   His blog, OneGeoBlogy, went live last week.

It's immediately obvious how much is happening with OneGeology globally and in Europe.     

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Geek shortage threatens national security

 The Pentagon's DARPA is worried that we are not producing enough computer geeks to meet national security needs, so they are looking for new ways to attract teens into careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).

An article on quotes DARPA as saying, “ability to compete in the increasingly internationalized stage will be hindered without college graduates with the ability to understand and innovate cutting edge technologies in the decades to come…. Finding the right people with increasingly specialized talent is becoming more difficult and will continue to add risk to a wide range of DoD [Department of Defense] systems that include software development.”

Wired reports that " computer science enrollment dropped 43 percent between 2003 and 2006."

At AZGS, we've had trouble finding people to work in geoinformatics.   Computer scientists are looking for cutting-edge research projects rather than implementation and standards development.  Geoscientists typically don't get the CS background needed unless they happen to have a personal interest in it and often that seems to be discouraged by academic programs that push more core courses.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Social media for the public good

The State of Utah's Web portal "includes more than 30 blogs from public entities and more than 200 Twitter feeds from state and local agencies within the state," according to a report in Governing magazine.

Utah issued guidelines this past fall on "recognize the difference between social media as a private individual and social media as a public or government representative."

Too many governments (and a reported 50% of private sector companies) automatically ban use of social media tools like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter by employees on the assumption they will be big time wasters.    If the telephone were invented today, I expect it too would be viewed as a tempting distraction to lure employees from their gainful duties and lollygag with calls to family, friends, or bookies.

It's nice to see Utah (and others like my state of Arizona who allow us to blog, tweet, and more) embrace change for the public good.

Peer-Reviewed Data Publication report posted

I'm passing on the announcement that:

A draft report from the 2009 fall AGU town hall on "Peer-Reviewed Data Publication and Other Strategies to Sustain Verifiable Science" has been posted to the ESIP Stewardship and Preservation wiki at  The town hall was jointly sponsored by the ESIP federation and the AGU data committee.  Please take a look and feel free to edit or comment on the report.  We particularly would like comments if you attended the town hall and feel that we missed an important point.  It is our intent to submit a boiled down version of the report as an EOS paper.


Ruth Duerr, Mark Parsons, Jean-Bernard Minster, Rob Raskin