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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
data and information users
GTOS data users and
information users fall into four main categories:
scientists: mainly environmental and Earth system scientists
associated with existing scientific research programmes.
They give considerable input to GTOS, particularly
in the early stages of any activities, by providing advice
on the variables to be observed, the techniques to be used,
and on appropriate methods of data analysis and data management.
Priority attention is given to the following research groups:
The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP):
This ICSU programme has from the very beginning substantially
contributed to the philosophical development of GTOS.
IGBP should become the main scientific research partner
The Consultative Group for International Agricultural
Research (CGIAR): This is potentially a very
important user group for GTOS data and information. The
CGIAR organisations are concerned with agriculture, forestry,
livestock, land-use and other related activities and thus
with sustainable development of developing countries.
Global State of the World reporting: Several organisations
prepare annual or biennial reports on the state of the
world or the state of some segment of it (regional or
sectoral). These organisations include the World Resources
Institute (WRI), the Worldwatch Institute, the UNEP Global
Environment Outlook (GEO) and the more sectoral reports
of FAO, the World Bank and IUCN. The perceptions of the
compilers of these broad overviews might help to identify
important environmental questions and gaps in knowledge
and understanding, especially relating to sustainable
development and its achievement, that might otherwise
be missed and with which GTOS could assist.
and managers: mainly national and international agencies
and organisations associated with the operation and management
of technical development and application programmes. They
use data and information generated through GTOS for more
efficient operation of their programmes. They also advise
GTOS on their new and continuing data and information needs.
makers and planners: mainly from national governments.
They want GTOS data and information in forms that can be
used in national planning. They often require the generation
of secondary and tertiary data such as social, economic
and environmental indicators. Consequently, they need to
work closely with scientists to ensure that data relevant
to their requirements are collected or generated.
conventions: are an important means for regulating
the use of the environmental and natural resources. Consulting
the secretariats of environment related international
Conventions will provide insights into the types of data
and information that States Parties to the conventions
require to meet their convention obligations. Some of
this contact work has already been done for GTOS but several
relevant conventions have not yet been consulted, notably
those concerned with coastal areas, and some of the larger
regional conventions. Convention Parties are potentially
an important user group for GTOS data and information.
Dynamic Atlas information management software, which had been
developed by FAO, is being used to carry out GTOS data management
activities in southern Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.
More information on Dynamic Atlas