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Internet Data Delivery Workshop

Leadership Conference 2004
"Charting a Path Forward"
November 17, 2004

National Science Foundation

Focus Group Discussions


Group 1 - Criteria for User Authorization

The focus of this discussion group is to determine what kinds of information users of the online system will be required to provide in order for the system to determine the appropriate level of access they should be granted.   For purposes of this discussion group, consider the following types of user authorization that may be handled by an online system.   A data access matrix (subject of discussion group 2) would be completed by each member program data provider in order to implement user authorization.   The data access matrix would specify the level of data resolution, for both view-only and download/web services interaction modes, for each combination of user type and security level.   The security levels would range from none (open access, no user registration) to a maximum level such as inquiry-specific manual-authentication required.   This data access matrix would allow some authentication schemes to be automated by the system, and would provide a manual mechanism for registering users in some cases.

Registration-only information, to be provided by users prior to granting access to data classified as registration-required (e.g.   quad-level precision):
      Name
      Organization
      Etc.

Automatic-authentication information, to be provided by users prior to granting access to data classified as requiring auto-authentication (e.g.   square mile precision):

Manual-authentication information, to be provided by users prior to granting access to data classified as requiring manual-authentication (e.g.   precise EO location):

Examples of questions that have been asked of users through our current data request process:

  1. What is the user's organization/affiliation?
  2. If user is a consultant, who is their client?
  3. What is the purpose of data request?
  4. What is the scale of data requested?
  5. What is the geographic extent of data requested?
  6. How long is access needed?
    • one-time only use like a static data snapshot
    • subscription - ongoing access to data for period of time
  7. What format of data is requested?
    • on-line website interface - view only, reports
    • download dataset, e.g.   shape file, excel spreadsheet, access database

Participants in Group 1 Discussion

Facilitator: Lori Scott, NatureServe
Recorder: Lynn Kutner, NatureServe

From NatureServe: Maggie Woo, Larry Prikockis
From UMass Boston: Bob Morris
From member programs: Andrew Harcombe (BC), Erik Endrulat (RI), Betty Les (WI)
From partner agencies: Brad Williams (American Forest & Paper Assn.), Jon Nystrom (ESRI), Brad Smith (USFS-NRIS)


Group 2 - Refining the Data Access Matrix

The focus of this discussion group is to refine a data access matrix that would be completed by each member program data provider in order to implement user authorization.   The data access matrix would specify the level of data resolution, for both view-only and download/web services interaction modes, for each combination of user type and security level.   The security levels would range from none (open access, no user registration) to a maximum level such as inquiry-specific manual-authentication required.   This data access matrix would allow some authentication schemes to be automated by the system, and would provide a manual mechanism for registering users in some cases.   For the purposes of this discussion group, refer to the example data access matrix below, in which the cells would contain the levels of data resolution to be granted to the corresponding combination of user type and security level.   Assume each member program data provider would complete a data access matrix to represent the levels of data access appropriate for their jurisdiction, and that programs could complete a separate matrix to assign different security levels for view-only/report access and for download access (including web services interaction).

Possible Levels of Data Resolution (to be specified in the grid cells of the data access matrix):


  • Quad
  • Square Mile
  • Precise EO Locations
User Types

Participants in Group 2 Discussion

Facilitator: Melissa Landon, Colorado Natural Heritage Program
Recorder: Shara Howie, NatureServe

From NatureServe: Leslie Honey, Syd Cannings (Yukon)
From UMass Boston: Hsiang-ling Lin (Kim)
From member programs: Allan Cox (MT), Rayo McCollough (NM), Nick Conrad (NY), Jean Fike (PA), Mike Canning (UT)
From partner agencies: Kelli Van Norman (BLM), John Schneider (EPA-Great Lakes), Brent Frakes (NPS), Seona Brown
(USFS-NRIS), Grant Canterbury (USFWS)


Group 3 - Sustainability Models

The focus of this discussion group is how to ensure the sustainability of the online data delivery system, and underlying work necessary to maintain the data it is delivering.   There is a growing trend among the international community to promote the concept of free and open access to data.   Indeed, funding from the National Science Foundation is based largely on the expectation that access to NatureServe Network data will be significantly increased, particularly to the research community.   Creating, maintaining, and delivering data, however, have real costs.   The question, then, is how to lower or eliminate cost barriers to data access, yet ensure that revenue continues to be available for carrying out the work required to make that data available.

Because NatureServe and most member programs currently have data licensing and cost recovery arrangements in place, this will be a key issue to resolve in designing and implementing an Internet data delivery system.   This discussion group will focus on looking at the broader issue of sustainability and revenue generation, as a way of dealing with this issue.   What are the options for replacing (or exceeding) the revenue currently generated by data licenses? Should there be a difference in how user groups are treated with respect to the cost of access (e.g., commercial vs.   non-commercial) to data? Among the various types of revenue sources we may consider are:


  1. Charitable grants
  2. Additional governmental support
  3. Value-added services
  4. Data license fees from commercial users

Participants in Group 3 Discussion

Facilitator: Bruce Stein, NatureServe
Recorder: Marcos Robles, NatureServe

From NatureServe: Felicia Carr, Judy Soule
From member programs: Renee Rondeau (CO), Gary Knight (FL), Joshua Concienne (LA), Tom Smith (VA)
From partner agencies: Mike Beatty (BuRec), Rob Faucett (Burke Museum/Univ.   of Washington), Brenda Smith (EPA)




This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0345400.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.