Ecology and Environmental decision makers, at all levels of government (local, state, national and international) seek to integrate ecological, environmental, and policy information as they make decisions about resource management, oversight, and policy. The decision maker is faced with many information technology issues, including data gaps, data integration, data presentation, and how to use or create appropriate indicators. Non-governmental organizations have similar goals.
This workshop, sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), focused specifically on informatics tools to support ecological and environmental decision makers.
The primary aims of the workshop were:
- Identify the customers of ecological information products (decision makers and the public, in particular) and articulate information needs regarding policy, data presentation, data gaps, tools and indicators
- Relate needs of decision makers to the capabilities and interests of relevant research disciplines in data integration, modeling and simulation, data quality, human centeredness, and ontologies.
- Publish a workshop report articulating these findings by January 2005.
Secondary aims of the workshop were to:
- Broaden the participation of government agencies to include, the Environmental Protection Agency, the USFS, and others, and emphasize that stakeholders for ecology information products include not only scientific researchers, but also government and NGO decision makers and the public.
- Identify mechanisms so that data providers such as tribal, local and state governments can easily publish and extend key data sets and metadata, and that decision makers can easily integrate and use those information sources, in spite of expected data gaps.
- Promote use of the term "information providers", rather than "data providers", emphasizes the value of both raw data sets and aggregate data products (e.g., results of statistical analysis and model output).
- Consider metadata 'hurdle height' when developing products and strategies to encourage wide participation by providers and to ensure that information consumers have appropriate guidance over and above a caveat emptor for using information.