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Implementing the Data Sharing Principles

Recognizing that the societal benefits of Earth observations cannot be achieved without data sharing, the 2007 Cape Town Declaration launched a process for ensuring that the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles, which are a major GEO achievement, are translated into reality. The resulting Data Sharing Action Plan and the GEOSS Data-CORE were adopted in Beijing. They promise to strengthen GEOSS significantly by advancing the practical implementation of the Data Sharing Principles.

The Action Plan and GEOSS Data-CORE

The Action Plan establishes the GEOSS Data Collection of Open Resources for Everyone, or GEOSS Data-CORE, as a distributed pool of documented datasets with full, open and unrestricted access. The GEOSS Data-CORE will serve as a practical tool for advocating and advancing the full and open exchange of data through GEOSS.

The Action Plan recognizes, however, that GEO welcomes all data contributions to GEOSS. When registering data in the GEOSS Common Infrastructure, contributors should explain any restrictions arising from relevant international instruments and national policies and legislation, as well as the duration of each restriction, applying to the exchange of the data, metadata and products they are providing.

The Action Plan also reaffirms the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI) as the architectural framework for implementing the Data Sharing Principles; calls on GEO Members to take the lead in establishing national coordinating mechanisms for promoting and monitoring the implementation of the Data Sharing Principles; and encourages governments to reach out to data providers within their territories in order to promote the benefits of the full and open access to data.

New contributions

Governments were invited to announce at the Ministerial their contributions to the GEOSS Data-CORE of datasets with full, open and unrestricted access. The United States is providing the Department of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), the Environmental Protection Agency’s AIRNow website, the standard Earth science products created by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the many open data sets managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (such as the Integrated Ocean Observing System and the Argo global ocean array of free-drifting profiling floats), the Foreign Agriculture Service Crop Explorer interface, the Global Seismographic Network (GSN), data from the Smithsonian GEO’s network of tropical forest institutes, the Landsat Global Land Survey, and many other datasets.

The United Kingdom announced that at least eight national agencies will contribute to the GEOSS Data-CORE. The contributed datasets will include in-situ and remotely sensed data and will address all nine Societal Benefit Areas. The records of the UK’s National Biodiversity Network will be made available through the Global Biodiversity Information Facility.

Other governments and organizations also highlighted their commitment to implementing the Data Sharing Principles. Japan is providing open access to the data gathered by its Greenhouse Gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT). It also provided data and maps from its Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) to support the international response to this year’s earthquakes in Haiti and Chile.

Spain is putting in place a new policy for making its meteorological data fully available to the international community. Brazil maintains a free and open data policy for all of its Earth observation satellites, including for the China Brazil Earth Resources Satellite (CBERS) program.

China offers data from the CBERS-02B satellite free of charge to African countries. It has also contributed receiving equipment and ground stations to African countries so that they can download free data. South Africa is distributing free Earth observation data, including from CBERS, via its Earth observation portal and Earth observation data center.

The European Space Agency recently approved an open and free data policy for the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) program’s Sentinel missions. The GMES Data and Information Policy has been approved by the Commission and the European Parliament, and the full approval process is expected to be completed in 2011. ESA Member States recently approved an open and free data policy for the ENVISAT and ERS missions, and ESA’s Earth Explorers data policy is free and open.

The Eye on Earth database maintained by the European Environment Agency is completely open to the public. EUMETSAT is working to improve access to key information on the state of the planet collected by its satellites. OneGeology-Europe makes geological map data freely available. The International Council for Science (ICSU) is contributing its new World Data System and its long-term stewardship of quality-assessed data and services as a key service to GEOSS. Other governments and organizations are also contributing unrestricted datasets to GEOSS and to the GEOSS Data-CORE.