The Importance of Data for Future Earth

All the global issues are highly associated with data and policy management cycle: that is the need of high quality data to be used to generate accurate and predictive models, and with models that can improve scientific and political understanding to support decision and policy makings. And, ultimately this data-policy cycle can help politicians make decisions about investments in these policies. Meanwhile, policies may be adapted by more new monitoring data. Jane Hunter has introduced this data-policy cycle as a concluding remark to this conference theme: “Open Data and Information for a Changing Planet” and the new interdisciplinary initiative of ICSU,"Future Earth"

Hunter further indicates two major challenges: socio-political and technical difficulties that CODATA community needs to focus on. While technical challenges are relatively easier to tackle than socio-political problems, issues such as tools for data quality, real-time analysis or multi-lingual search and presentation interface are highlighted. Moreover, specific subjects such as (1) open access to online models; (2) data citation for large scale collaboration, as well as (3) ontologies to support adaptive data management and (4) data integration and reasoning by using Linked Open Data (LOD) are discussed. She further encouraged CODATA community to publish data to LOD, then two years from now, the next CODATA conference will have lots of cases to share the data reuse and mash-up applications, and experience in advanced inference and reasoning across datasets.

For the purpose of practical implementation of data projects, three advices have been suggested by David Carlson as Open Access Policy, Dealing with Human Resource Problems, and Starting the Data Projects by Action. First, declaring open data is the step one for existing research projects (e.g. PIC, the Polar Information Commons the IPY programme). Second, whatever data array or technical capabilities have any difficulty, fundamental resource for data project success are human resource problems. In other words, if we intend to solve data problems we have to recognise the human resource issue within the data projects or programmes and decide how much we should allocate resources into data. Third, get some data projects to start. Carlson further explains that our tendency for data projects is to wait, plan, and review. And then, think about data services. That’s far too late. Plans will never catch up to data. Have some data demonstration projects under way today, and find a couple of likely data streams relevant to “Future Earth”. or other emergent problems will help us to learn much more from successes and mistakes.

The panel discussion further towards discussions on the citizen scientist that includes concepts like community monitoring or categorization activities are discussed. However, the difficulty to come up with a single definition for the citizen science or citizen scientist remains. The chair, Rpbert Chen, mentioned that this issue will be considered to the Future Earth agenda. Several other themes are also suggested for CODATA, such as data gaps and historical data lost are proposed from the audience. And once again, the issue of Linking Open Data, or themes related to other conference such as open repository conferences or semantic web conferences are recommended and expected to see in the future CODATA settings. One specific discussion in this panel is the concern of the CODATA’s role: the conference output and the way to influence science policies. Suggestions like asking CODATA to come out some concrete statements or charters for this year’s main them (open data & information), or more collaboration with the media for promoting these associated issues are raised from the audience and panellists with their high expectations of the CODATA. 

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全球議題與資料和政策管理循環過程息息相關: 其涵意是,高品質的資料可被用來產生正確且可預測的研究模型,而研究模型則可協助政策決定中所需的科學與政治上的瞭解。而最後設資料-政策的循環過程則幫助政治家在政策選擇上的投資決定。同時,政策也可因更多的觀測資料而有所調整。這是Jane Hunter針對此次會議主題「開放資料與資訊: 變動中的地球」以及「國際科學理事會」(ICSU, International Council for Science)新的跨領域主題「未來地球」在最後的總結座談中所提出的意見。

Hunter進一步指出CODATA所需面對的二個主要挑戰: 社會-政治、以及技術的挑戰。Hunter認為技術方面的問題相對於社會-政治議題的困難度而言,容易許多。也因此針對技術方面提出資料品質、即時分析、多語搜尋與介面等議題中科學工具的需求。並且在特別的議題如(1)線上研究模型的開放取用; (2)資料引用的大規模合作; (3)支援資料管理的知識本體; (4) 使用開放式資料連結 (Linked Open Data, LOD)等方面特別關注,並建議CODATA社群出版資料至LOD,因此兩年後CODATA年會預期將可見許多資料再利用、資料混搭應用的實例、以及不同資料集之間進一步推論判斷的研究經驗分享。

基於實際執行資料計畫的前提,David Carlson對與會者提出了三大建議: 開放取用政策、處理人事資源問題、以及用實際行動開始進行資料計畫。首先,針對目前的研究計畫宣告開放資料是第一步,如IPY計畫的極地資訊共用PIC (Polar Information Commons). 第二,不論資料陣列或技術能力有任何的困難度,主要妨礙資料計畫成功的因素是人事資源問題,換言之,假使我們想要解決資料問題,我們必須先釐清並處理人事資源問題,同時決定人事資源分配比例中,多少需配置於資料處理本身。最後,用實際行動開始進行資料計畫。Carlson 進一步解釋,我們大部分人對於資料計畫的習慣是等待、計畫、然後進行復審。接著,再思考資料服務面向。這樣的作法太過緩慢。計畫永遠趕不及資料的速度。因此立即建立資料展示的相關計畫,並熟習相關資料計畫如與「未來地球」或是其他解決緊急問題的資料計畫,將有助於我們從實作經驗中學習成功與失敗的經驗。

專題討論也引向對於公民科學議題的討論,其中社群觀測、或是公民協助知識分類等活動均包含在公民科學的概念中。然而,對於公民科學或是公民科學家的定義目前仍無法有單一的定論,專題討論主席Robert Chen也提到這項議題或許會在「未來地球」的議題中更進一步考量。其他與會者也紛紛對於CODATA議題的設定提出建議,如資料缺口、過去資料遺失等相關議題的關心。或是,開放式資料連結 (Linked Open Data)、與其他國際會議如開放資料庫、語意網會議等會議議題的連結,也再次由與會者建議CODATA將這些相關議題納入。最後一項特別的討論是針對CODATA角色的定位,如會議產出的後續工作、以及如何影響國際科學政策的方向等。與會者以高度期待的熱誠對CODATA建議的方向包括: CODATA會議後是否能產出具題針對會議主題 (開放資料與資訊) 的公開聲明或會章、或是能更積極的和媒體合作,進而能對相關議題做有效的推廣。