Report of the 2008 eGY General Meeting
Held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), Boulder Colorado, March 5-6, 2008.
Prepared by Bill dot Peterson at lasp.colorado.edu, eGY Secretary
Attendees: Daniel Baker, Charles Barton, Rajendra Bose, David Clark, Emily CoBabe-Ammann, Alisdair Davey, Barbara Emery, Peter Fox, Abebe Kebede, Siri Jodha Khalsa, Eric Kihn, Jeffrey J. Love, Gang Lu, Alem Mebrahtu, Chuck Meertens, Meghan Miller, Rajul Pandya, Mark Parsons, Bill Peterson, Monique Petitdidier, Aaron Roberts, Marissa Rusinek, Ray Walker, Ron Weaver, and Greg Yetman
The final agenda
The 2008 General meeting of eGY brought together eGY Participants interested in promoting the ideals outlined in the eGY Declaration. The meeting started with overviews of some recent successes enabled by modern data management practices and an overview of eGY. The rest of the meeting consisted of reports and discussion, outlined below.
In the extensive discussions attendee's developed a list of eGY accomplishments and further actions. These are listed at the end of this report.
A meeting of the eGY Africa Working group followed the meeting.
Dan Baker opened the meeting with remarks noting significant contributions that eGY has so far made. The partial list given by Dan was expanded by meeting participants. The list of eGY accomplishments is available here.
Dr. Tim Killeen, Director of NCAR, welcomed eGY. In his presentation, Dr. Killeen illustrated the importance and power of modern data management techniques applied to the very practical problem of global climate change.
Dr. Lawrence Buja of NCAR gave us a talk about the data challenge in preparing the model runs for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) done at NCAR, which resulted in a Nobel Prize.
Charles Barton, Chair of the eGY International Committee gave a short overview of the structure and functions of eGY for people new to the meeting.
Mark Parsons chaired a session entitled "The World Scene-1"
- Peter Fox gave a comprehensive review of recent developments in International Informatics, including the International Council for Science (ICSU) Ad hoc Strategic Committee on Information and Data (SCID), and a newly formed IUGG Union Commission. His presentation is here.
- Eric Kihn talked about the ICSU Committee on Data (CODATA) proposed working group: eGY Earth and Space Science Data Interoperability. A description of the proposed working group and its activities is here.
- Dave Clark gave a status report on the World Data Center (WDC) Panel and its work to update and certify world (and other) data centers. His presentation is here.
- Siri Jodha Khalsa presented an overview of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS), including recent progress and open issues. His report is here.
- Monique Petitdidier's presentation on Enabling Grids for E-SciencE (EGEE) was given for her by Charles Barton.
- Aaron Roberts presented an overview of NASA's Virtual Observatory and Informatics programs.
Dr. Kebede chaired a session on eGY Africa
- Charles Barton reported on the IHY workshop held last November in Ethiopia. The full written report of this conference from the eGY perspective is available on the eGY web site at: http://www.egy.org/egyafrica.html
- Alem Mebrahtu, Secretary of eGY Africa, reported on its status.
- Abede Kebede reported on the African Scientific Network.
- Charles Barton gave Monique Petitdidier's presentation on the African Cyber Infrastructure. Dr. Barton also presented charts from a presentation made by Les Cottrell at the IHY Africa Meeting quantifying how both the level of connectivity and the rate of its growth are significantly less in Africa. The relevant charts are here.
Dr. Ray Walker chaired a session on Fresh Perspectives
- Chuck Meertens discussed the Earth Scope Data Portal project and noted some recent work they are doing in Africa.
- Siri Jodha Khalsa described the work of the GEONETCast task in the GEO work plan. The web site is http://www.earthobservations.org/geonetcast.shtml. An overview presentation can be found here.
- Rajendra Bose talked about the work on managing research data at the Library of Columbia University.
- Greg Yetman discussed the data management work at The Columbia University Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). Notes from his talk and pointers to web sites can be found here.
Dr. Charles Barton chaired a session addressing the question: What happens after eGY ends on December 31, 2008?
Eric Kihn discussed plans for the CODATA working group on Science Data Stewardship that will assume the work of the eGY Best Practices Working Group and could become the eventual repository for the eGY web site.
Peter Fox discussed recent progress in forming the IUGG Union Commission on data and informatics that, in conjunction with similar recently formed groups associated with AGU, EGU, GSA, are organizing meetings and symposia focusing on data and informatics issues addressed by eGY.
Charlie Barton suggested that there is a need for coordination of data and informatics efforts at the international / interdisciplinary level. He proposed that several (~8) of the international scientific unions associated with ICSU focusing on geophysics (the so-called GEOUNIONS) band together and form a commission on data and informatics to meet this need. Not all persons present agreed that there was a need for such high level coordination at this time. Others argued that action was premature until the ICSU SCID report (See note about Peter Fox's presentation in the World Scene session above) has been presented and extensively discussed.
Charlie Barton noted that the astronomers have come up with a data manifesto, which is quite similar to the eGY Declaration.
In the discussion, Dan Baker suggested that it might be time for the US National Academy to reintroduce a standing panel on data and informatics similar to the Committee on Data Management and Computing (CODMAC) that was disbanded several years ago.
There was a general discussion of the "legacies of eGY" that continued throughout the meeting. A summary of all of them is given at the end of this report.
Dan Baker chaired a session on planned publications
Peter Fox reported that selected papers from the eGY-sponsored Virtual Observatories in Geoscience meeting (VOiG 2007) will appear in the first issue of the new Springer journal: Earth Science Informatics
He also reported on the status of an AGU monograph on Virtual Observatories and a possible book on informatics solicited by a well respected academic publisher. There was a lot of discussion about the book. Mark Parsons, and Jeffrey Love agreed to work with Peter on it.
Charles Barton noted that the eGY series in the AGU EOS publication has now been accepted. The lead paper is ready for submission. There was a lot of interest from the community to write these articles. Several new articles and authors were identified at meeting, including Monique Petitdidier on the European Grid. Here are lists of EOS Spotlight articles and information for Spotlight Authors.
Bill Peterson noted that the EOS Spotlight Series and the book noted above will be the primary legacy of eGY. He also reported that he is considering holding a press conference in conjunction with the eGY-sponsored session "eGY - Towards a Global Earth and Space Science Informatics Commons" to be held at the COSPAR meeting in Montreal in July.
The collegial conversations about informatics issues and eGY continued into a social hour held after the first day's meeting. In these discussions, Peter Fox was tasked with developing a consensus definition of informatics.
The second day of the meeting began with a session chaired by Jeffrey Love on the International Science Years.
- Mark Parsons reported on the work of the IPY Data and Information Committee and the evolving plans for IPY data. His report is here. His report prompted general discussion about the status of data sharing, recognition of informatics professionals, and related items that continued during the session.
- Tim Fuller-Rowell reported on the very successful IHY event in Ethiopia held last November. His report is here.
- Barbara Emery discussed the evolution of the database she and her co-workers have assembled for the US NSF's Coupling, Energetics and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR). Her experiences regarding data release, data access, professional recognition, data formats, and other issues were good illustrations of some of the issues associated with implementing the principles of the eGY Charter.
Mark Parsons chaired a session of eGY Working Group Reports
Bill Peterson reported on the activities of the secretariat and eGY Finances.
Charlie Barton reported on the activities of the international committee including preparations for the Earth and Space Science Informatics (ESSI) Summit to be held in Rome March 13-14.
Peter Fox reported on the many activities of the Virtual Observatory Group, including the very successful VOiG 2007 and planning for the VOiG 2008. He also discussed the sessions organized by the Informatics sub sections of AGU, EGU, and GSA.
Jeffrey Love reported on the article on Data Rescue and Preservation he is preparing. This article uses specific examples from geomagnetic observatories to illustrate the scientific importance and difficulties in rescuing and preserving data. Several persons at the meeting complimented Jeff on his recent article in Physics Today on geomagnetic observatories and their long history.
Eric Kihn reported that the Best Practices Working Group has developed a Wiki site for data center managers to exchange information and develop community best practices for data management. Interested eGY participants who want to contribute to the discussions on the site should contact Eric.A.Kihn at noaa.gov. The site is at: http://www.sciencedatastewardship.org.
Bill Peterson reported on the eGY Showcase projects.
Bill Peterson led a discussion about eGY participation in Conferences for the rest of 2008
A list of conferences and cognizant eGY participant is here. For more information about specific conferences this person should be contacted. Bill Peterson can provide contact information if you don't have it.
There was discussion about maintaining a list of informatics specific, but cross discipline, meetings that have been on the eGY web site after eGY ends on December 31. Alisdair Davey agreed to take on the task.
Charlie Barton led the discussion on the eGY legacy and further actions
The group identified the following eGY legacies:
- The eGY declaration has resonated with policy makers. It and the Astronomers Data Manifesto will migrate to a web page developed by the CODATA working group: eGY Earth and Space Science Data Interoperability.
- eGY participants were instrumental in establishing and promoting the AGU and EGU Earth and Space Science Informatics (ESSI) interest groups. These groups and their GSA counterpart became regular, well attended forums for the discussion of the principles listed in the eGY Declaration.
- eGY participants were instrumental in forming the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) Union Commission on Data and Information. Peter Fox, Chair of the eGY Working Group on Virtual Observatories also chairs this new commission.
- eGY participants formed the CODATA working group eGY Earth and Space Science Data Interoperability to address international and interdisciplinary aspect of the principles listed on the eGY declaration: free and open access to data, interoperability, standards, etc.
- eGY participants have been engaged with the World Data Center Panel on Ways and Means to certify existing and planned World Data Centers.
- eGY has begun to generate publications as noted in the report above on the session on publications chaired by Dan Baker. These publications include the soon to begin Spotlight series in EOS, published by AGU.
- eGY participants working with Paul Ulihr of the US National Academies have been involved in the Global Earth Observing Systems of Systems (GEOSS) data policy implementation at the GEOSS Workshop XXIII - Science Modeling and Data Policy - to be held September 14, 2008, in Quebec City, Canada.
- eGY participants have created web-based presentations of applications illustrating one or more eGY principles. These so-called 'showcase demonstration projects' are available on the web at: http://www.egy.org/demoproj.html. These showcase demonstrations will migrate to a web page developed by the CODATA working group: eGY Earth and Space Science Data Interoperability.
- eGY Participants established eGY-Africa which will continue beyond the December 31, 2008 end of eGY.
- eGY National Committees established in China, Russia, Europe, India, South Africa, and Japan have engaged their national communities and had an impact on data policies in these countries.
- The eGY Calendar collects meetings addressing topics of interest to the eGY community (i.e. informatics). As noted above, we are exploring the establishment of an informatics specific, but cross discipline, calendar. Alisdair Davey agreed to take on the task. Progress reports on this task will appear in the eGY Newsletter.
- The Best Practices working group has established a Wiki-style web page to collect and codify the best practices for running large data centers. This activity will migrate to CODATA at the end of eGY.
Further actions identified and open discussion topics in the final sessions of the meeting
The order of items in the list below is chronological:
- Dan Baker will approach the US National Academy to reintroduce a standing panel on data and informatics similar to the Committee on Data Management and Computing (CODMAC) that was disbanded several years ago.
- Raj Bose and Mark Parsons agreed to look into convening an ESSI session on libraries for the Fall 2008 AGU meeting. They also agreed to setting up a session or presenting talks at library conferences.
- Abebe Kebede, Monique Petitdidier, and Peter Fox agreed to look into setting up a special session at a meeting (AGU, EGU or APS) on facilitating the geosciences in Africa.
- Peter Fox and Mark Parsons will organize a Conference on Informatics and IPY related Informatics. It may be an AGU Chapman Conference, an ESSI sponsored conference or a joint Chapman and Penrose (GSA) conference.
- Raj Bose, Ron Weaver, and Mark Parsons agreed to write an EOS Spotlight article(s) addressing data citations based on the extensive discussions on the topic at the meeting.
- eGY participants are encouraged to submit articles addressing eGY Principles to relevant journals.
- We agreed that the outputs of the Earth and Space Science Informatics Summit, held in Rome, March 13-14, should be widely distributed. Possible Rome 'outputs' include a generic data policy and a generic data manifesto.
- We agreed that the eGY website will stay in place for a year or two before all or parts of it migrate to other sites. The most probable destination website will be the one established by the CODATA working group noted above.
- Charles Barton, Ron Weaver, and Monique Petitdidier agreed to write EOS Spotlight articles.
- We discussed certification of World Data Centers (WDC) and other data centers. Dave Clark, Siri Jodha Khalsa, Mark Parsons, Peter Fox and Eric Kihn agreed to look into ISSO OAIS Certification, certification through the OGC-Interoperability Institute, or through a Process standard (9000 series). It was agreed that this is a very labor intensive task. It was noted that the discussion at the Informatics Summit meeting in Rome would be relevant to this topic.
- Peter Fox and Siri Jodha Khalsa agreed to compile definitions for the eGY website for 'Informatics, Virtual Observatory, and GRID.'
- We agreed that it was not possible or even desirable to maintain a list of virtual observatories.
- We discussed the need for future conferences devoted to 'eGY' issues. We came to no conclusion. The issue is coordination across disciplines. Peter Fox noted that he maintains an I-Chairs e-mail list that goes to Chairs of informatics sections of AGU, EGU, GSA, and other national and international groups. Peter noted that this coordination my be adequate for the near term.
- We did not identify a final eGY event. It was suggested that we compile a video from existing material on eGY Principles. That may or may not be a spoof on the mac/pc commercials currently running. We considered a global video event with feeds to Africa, but did not feel we had the resources (bandwidth, people, and money) to do it.
- The eGY e-mail list includes a large fraction of the people currently interested informatics at a policy level. It was agreed that, at the end of eGY, Bill Peterson would ask list members if they would like to continue to receive eGY-related information from the follow-on groups addressing informatics issues that were originated by eGY. Only those responding positively to the request will be retained.