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Better access to global data:
The Data and information management plan

GTOS is a facilitator, not a collector or "owner" of data. It serves to facilitate and coordinate the collection, exchange, processing, integration, and archiving of relevant data, and to promote the generation and use of data and information products. Since existing institutions and networks will have data and information management policies and procedures in place, it is most unlikely that these will be easily put aside in favour of any directives imposed by GTOS. The approach, therefore, has to be of building on existing data and information management practices by ensuring that their practices are compatible with GTOS aims.

In some instances, existing practices may be deficient and partnership with GTOS will stimulate improvement to the advantage of the new participant. In other cases, practices will be very much in line with GTOS principles and may have features which could be adopted to lead to improvement of GTOS overall. Thus while GTOS principles and high-level policies should be established and agreed upon, the implementation will use evolving guidelines rather than a rigid framework.

In this line, a GTOS Data and Information Management Plan was developed in 1998. The plan defines the context and establishes the overall principles to guide data and information management, and identifies the policies and proposed actions needed to move towards practical operations in the future. It is structure in three components:

  • process elements, which address mechanisms needed to enable implementation of the Plan, including the creation of Panels, working Groups and GTOS Data Centres. It outlines what is in place now, discusses requirements and proposes actions to be taken.
  • GTOS data management, defining policies, functions and required actions in a number of inter-related areas, including user requirements for data and information, custodianship of data and information, access and release of data and information products, metadata, data quality, data harmonization and archiving.
  • GTOS support, identifying data management activities that GTOS must undertake as part of its own operations, e.g. management of the TEMS database and development of GTOS Data Centres.

The GTOS Plan outlines the bodies and mechanisms through which the various aspects of the programme will be implemented. The Steering Committee is intended to function as a high-level body, setting overall direction. The Secretariat will have continuing responsibility for the implementation of the Plan and for application of developed policies and procedures.

In addition to the goals of GOSIC, the Plan focuses on the identification of Data Centres. these will be existing data and research centres which are fomally identified with GTOS with regard to some aspects of the GTOS end-to-end data and information management paradigm. Their functions may include one or more of: data collection, data assembly, integration, analysis, product generation, distribution, and archiving. Centres may be involved in the first level of verification of data but not necessarily have facilities for, nor take part in, further analyses. For example, they may have limited facilities for electronic distribution of data and/or archiving.

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© FAO   ::   Global Terrestrial Observing System - GTOS   ::   16 May 2002