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The Community for Data Integration: Implementing the USGS Data Integration Strategy

CDI photo
During the CDI workshop, Kevin Gallagher (far left), Associate Director for Core Science Systems (CSS), and Linda Gundersen (far right), Director, Office of Science Quality and Integrity, presented Star Awards to Heather Henkel, Information Technology Specialist in the USGS Southeast Geographic Area, and Roland Viger, Geographer in USGS Water, in recognition of their contributions to the CDI this past year.
The USGS Science Strategy recognizes six strategic science directions and defines data integration as an additional, cross-cutting science direction. Fundamental to addressing Earth science challenges is the requirement for "a more integrated and accessible environment for vast resources of past and future data" and the encouragement of innovation to advance scientific discovery and insight "through the development and application of state-of-the-art technologies." Scientific insight requires the ability to discover, access, and use relevant data and to share research results for use by others. The complex nature of problems facing society absolutely demands an interdisciplinary response that can be attained only when researchers can efficiently find, get, and use data from multiple disciplines and achieve real synthesis that is truly "trans-disciplinary."

It is this backdrop that led to the formation of the Community for Data Integration (CDI) in 2009. CDI is charged to:

    1. Lead development and implementation of the USGS data integration strategy.

    2. Provide recommendations for implementation of data integration guidelines.

    3. Promote Bureau-wide data management and integration.

With about 50 participants, CDI first convened in Denver in September 2009 to build the community and to identify high-value data integration opportunities that would leverage resources to augment and extend existing science center data integration efforts to all USGS scientists. In its 3 years of existence, the Community has grown to more than 150 data providers and consumers across all geographic and mission areas of the USGS and includes a broad array of partners in government, academia, and industry. CDI has leveraged the application development and data management expertise in science centers and programs to produce tools and resources that greatly ease the sometimes daunting jobs of data integration and analysis typically performed by scientists conducting multi-disciplinary studies.

Prior to its Third Annual CDI Workshop (August 17–18, 2011), a day of training and demonstrations was conducted at the Denver Federal Center, putting data management and integration tools directly into the hands of scientists, researchers, and data managers. These training sessions were well received, as characterized by one attendee: "I was made aware of numerous programs I didn't know existed and a number of possibilities for handling our data." A complete listing of session titles and associated WebEx recordings is available at

Following the CDI-sponsored training, 150 internal and external partners convened for the 2011 Annual CDI Workshop, "Strengthening Partnerships." Presenters included technical representatives from the National Science Foundation (NSF), ESRI, DataONE, the U.S. Geoscience Information Network (USGIN), and others. Presentations covered NSF's Earth Cube, DataONE's Virtual Data Observation Network for the Earth, base data layers hosted by The National Map and ESRI's site, recommendations for sustaining USGIN, ways to leverage crowd sourcing as effective feedback for geoscience applications development projects, and an overview of the Core Science System Mission Area Science Strategy Planning Teams draft 10-year plan.

A popular highlight of the workshop featured two panels: The Partnership Panel focused on identifying commonalities and leveraging opportunities for furthering data management and integration activities across government, academia, and industry. The USGS Scientist Panel shared data integration stories followed by an interactive dialog with CDI attendees. "Fantastic!" nicely sums up the Community's response to these two sessions.

Another popular event was the Data Blast, a collection of informal poster and Internet sessions designed to ignite creative discussions and build community. Participants gathered around presenters who provided short briefings about their project, tool, or group. The ensuing networking and dialogs were considered one of the most valuable aspects of the Workshop.

Prior to the Workshop, CDI members began writing proposals for FY 2012 data management and data integration projects. These proposals were augmented during the Workshop and will be ranked in October for funding. The proposals—along with PowerPoint presentations, WebEx recordings, and extensive notes—are available on the Web at

The spirit of CDI embraces the USGS Science Strategy challenges, gathering passionate data management practitioners and data users from all mission and geographic areas and leveraging their talents and skills. All are welcome to join this open community of practice; we hope you will take some time to explore the many activities of CDI (available at—and perhaps even get involved!

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Viv Hutchison, Core Science Analytics and Synthesis (CSAS) Science Data Management, leads a session on the USGIN.

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Frank D'Erchia, Science Advisor for the Rocky Mountain Area, and Viv Hutchison, CSAS, share a laugh at the Data Blast.

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(Left to right) Steve Richard, Arizona Geological Survey; Sky Bristol, CSAS Applied Earth Systems Informatics Research; and Steve Tessler, New Jersey Water Science Center.

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(Left to right) Jean Freeney, CSAS Science Data Management, and Leslie Armstrong, South Central Area Science Coordinator.

Photo credit: Jennifer L. Lopez, CSAS