Mathematical Geophysics Meeting Report

Strengthening an Interagency Network for Geoscience Data Sets

GeoData 2014: Strengthening the Connections, Building the Interagency Network; Boulder, Colorado, 17–19 June 2014

By , Peter Fox, and Matthew S. Mayernik

More than 85 invited participants from government, academia, and the private sector attended the GeoData 2014 Workshop. The GeoData in the title of this workshop represents data sets collected and curated by the broad “Geo” community supported by numerous U.S. federal agencies: the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Geological Survey, among others.

The GeoData workshop series was initiated alongside the NSF EarthCube initiative. EarthCube seeks a ­community-­driven, interoperable, ­geoscience-­wide geoinformatics infrastructure in concert with other agencies. The GeoData workshop series aims to complement EarthCube by extending the scope of the discourse beyond the NSF-funded geoscience research community.

GeoData 2014 built on the success of the first GeoData meeting in 2011. Keynote talks at GeoData 2014 reviewed the progress of three GeoData 2011 topics: data citation, data integration, and data life cycle. Panels and breakouts centered on two topic areas: (1) social, political, and financial issues and (2) technical issues of connecting geodata within and among governmental agencies.

Specific themes addressed under the first topic were as follows: governmental open data; interagency geodata coordination efforts—progress and political/­sociological challenges; feedback from the academic and commercial sectors; and establishing a collaborative environment and culture building. Those addressed under the second topic were as follows: data life cycle, data citation, and data integration frameworks and related technical progress; experience and best practices on data interoperability; connections among distributed data repositories and their future; and vocabularies for data annotation and services especially related to data discovery and use.

GeoData participants voiced their desire to learn more from data interoperability success stories, such as those associated with ­, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the World Meteorological Organization Information System, the Rolling Deck to Repository program, the Giovanni portal, and the Open Geospatial Consortium Sensor Observation Service. Also in high demand is a list of ­machine-­readable data formats and application programming interfaces. Software documentation and data searching received particular attention, and existing efforts and their future potentials were discussed. In particular, the semantic markup for search engines was highlighted as a direction for future work.

A few ­working-­level collaborations around geodata were proposed at the end of the workshop. An information portal of data science educational materials and early-career scholarships will be developed.

The Global Change Information System (, developed by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, was proposed as a typical use case for ­cross-­agency data tracing. Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) will take up activities (1) to facilitate discussion across “curation centers,” including institutional repositories, domain repositories, archives, etc., as proxies for the agencies and (2) to circulate best practices of creating, publishing, and using vocabularies.

The Research Data Alliance will facilitate the work of developing a new data life cycle conceptual model. Moreover, workshop participants suggested continuing the discussion and sharing ways to increase collaboration/­coordination at events in the near future, such as the 2014 AGU Fall Meeting and the ESIP 2015 Winter Meeting.

We are grateful to NSF for sponsoring the workshop; the National Center for Atmospheric Research for providing space and facilities; and the organizing committee, session chairs and moderators, and supporting staff for making the workshop a big success. Details of the workshop are accessible at

—Xiaogang Ma and Peter Fox, Tetherless World Constellation, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y.; email: [email protected]; and Matthew S. Mayernik, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colo.

© 2014. American Geophysical Union. All rights reserved.