Report from the ad hoc Strategic Committee on Information and Data


The Strategic Committee on Information and Data (SCID) was established by ICSU to advise on the future organization and direction of its activities in relation to scientific data and information. Following an earlier priority area assessment exercise in this area, ICSU’s declared strategic goal is: to facilitate a new, coordinated global approach to scientific data and information that ensures equitable access to quality data and information for research, education and informed decision-making. The role of SCID was to assess how this goal might best be achieved.

Taking the Priority Area Assessment on Data and Information (ICSU, 2004) as its starting point, SCID met on three occasions in 2007-08 and considered input from the following ICSU Interdisciplinary Bodies: the World Data Centres (WDC), the Federation of Astronomical and Geophysical Data analysis Services (FAGS) and the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA). The SCID members themselves also collected and presented information on major international data and information initiatives of strategic importance to ICSU.

The major recommendations of SCID are that:

ICSU assert a much-needed strategic leadership role on behalf of the global scientific community in relation to the policies, management and stewardship of scientific data and information. In order to achieve this, ICSU must reform some of its current interdisciplinary bodies and establish a new committee that will provide overall strategic direction and advice.
A new ICSU World Data System be created (as an ICSU Interdisciplinary Body), incorporating the WDCs and FAGS as well as other state-of-the-art data centres and services. This new structure or system must be designed clearly to support ICSU’s mission and objectives, ensuring the long-term stewardship and provision of quality-assessed data and data services to the international science community and other stakeholders.
CODATA focus its activities on the three main initiatives identified in its draft strategy and extend its links to other organizations and networks to play a more prominent role within ICSU and within the wider scientific community. This will require the close alignment of implementation mechanisms, e.g. working groups and task groups, with the three main initiatives identified in the draft CODATA strategic plan (Appendix G). The bi-annual CODATA conference should also be modified to provide closer links to ICSU priorities and the new ICSU World Data System.
A new ad hoc ICSU Strategic Coordinating Committee for Information and Data be established to provide broad expertise and advice to ICSU in this area. This Strategic Coordinating Committee will act as an interface between scientists and data and information professionals that can advise on the data needs and possible solutions for existing and new ICSU programmes and other international initiatives. It should be established for three years in the first instance, potentially renewable for a further three-year term. During which period it will be expected to establish visible and effective leadership for ICSU and ensure proper coordination among ICSU activities.
ICSU National Members and Unions be strongly encouraged to establish committees or commissions, where these do not already exist, focussing on data and information issues. Where national committees or liaison structures already exist for CODATA and/or the WDCs, consideration should be given to amalgamating and expanding these to integrate data policy, management and stewardship issues. Professional data services must be recognised.

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