FGDC Biological Data Working Group 1998 NSDI Accomplishments
Goal 1: To increase the awareness and understanding of the vision and concepts of the NSDI through outreach and education.
Objectives: Communicate the goals and objectives of the NSDI and the benefits of participation in the NSDI to existing and prospective participants, with a particular focus on expanding the understanding and awareness of the NSDI to the biological resources community. Help expand and increase applicability and pertinence of NSDI practices, standards, etc. for use in facilitating collection, exchange, sharing, and application of biological data.
Action: 1. Develop an initial set of generalized descriptive materials (written handouts, overhead transparencies, etc.) on the goals and objectives of the Working Group (and its relationship to the FGDC/NSDI) for use by Group members to help in communicating about the Group when attending other meetings, conferences, professional societies, etc.
Results: The BDWG held its first organizational meeting in Dec. 1997 and has held monthly meetings since that time. Currently there are 17 members representing DOD, NCEAS, NRCS, NSF, SAIC, Smithsonian, TNC, USEPA, USFS, USFWS, and USGS. BDWG's Charter Responsibilities are being met and its policies are in place to make members aware and knowledgeable of NSDI and the BDWG charter responsibility.
Status: Conceptual ideas and materials are available in BDWG's Charter and other materials developed over the last year, however actual compilation of these material into a specific document or set of documents has not taken place.
Barriers: Getting BDWG members or their staffs to commit to the work because they are already over committed or other work priorities take precedence. Most work of the BDWG was focused on moving two BDWG-sponsored standards through the FGDC standards process.
Next Steps: High priority item in 1999 BDWG Annual Work Plan and a team will be formed to complete the work.
Action: 2. Develop a concise (one-page) description of the short-term focal points of the Working Group (e.g., biological metadata standards, biological nomenclature standards) and what the objectives of these efforts will be. This document can then be used, in conjunction with more general materials developed in Action item no.1 to help particularly identify potential groups, organizations, communities that have an interest in, are working in, would like to be involved in these respective areas and that thus should be targeted for special outreach/communication efforts.
Status: Conceptual ideas and materials are available in BDWG's Charter and other materials developed over the last year, however actual compilation of these material into a specific document has not taken place.
Barriers: Getting BDWG members or their staffs to commit to the work because they are already over committed or other work priorities take precedence.
Next Steps: High priority item in 1999 BDWG Annual Work Plan and a team will be formed to complete the work.
Action: 3. Develop an initial list (which will be continuously updated and expanded) of groups, organizations, activities, or "communities" that have a potential interest and involvement in one or more of the prospective focal areas of the Working Group.
Results: A preliminary list has been developed and has been used to inform "communities" of standards development activities of the BDWG and solicit comments on proposals and drafts of standards. The BDWG successfully enlisted new non-Federal members from The Nature Conservancy and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and is cooperating with the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) to broaden awareness of the Working Group and its activities (such as the proposed Biological Metadata Profile) with all the member societies of the AIBS .
Status: Continues to be maintained and amended, as appropriate.
Barriers: Discovery of "all" potentially interested "communities" is a difficult task.
Next Steps: Continued searching and maintenance.
Action: 4. Coordinate and work with the FGDC Communications Working Group to identify communications activities and/or materials that the two groups can work on together in this area.
Status: The FGDC Communications Working Group has not been officially contacted to aid in development of communications materials.
Barriers: None envisioned.
Next Steps: The BDWG teams responsible for putting together the documents identified in actions 1 & 2 will be advised to work with the FGDC Communications Working Group to develop these communications documents.
Action: 5. Establish a website for the Working Group, as part of the FGDC website, and use the website as one mechanism to communicate about Working Group goals and activities.
Results: A website was established within two weeks of the BDWG's first organizational meeting in Dec. 1997. The site hosts the BDWG Charter, Annual Work Plan, Membership List, BDWG Draft Standards & Standards Proposals and associated public comments on these documents, Meeting Minutes, and links to other FGDC and related groups.
Status: The website continues to be maintained and updated. During the year the website has received ~1000 hits distributed among the follow entities: 60% gov/mil, 13% unknown, 10% com, 7% edu, 5% net, 3% nine foreign countries, and 2% org.
Barriers: None at the present time.
Next Steps: Continued maintenance.
Goal 2: Develop common solutions for discovery, collection, access, and use of geospatial data in response to needs of diverse communities.
Objectives: Within context of NSDI goals and objectives and practices, help to promote and coordinate the development, refinement, and implementation of standards, tools, and approaches for facilitating collection, exchange, sharing, and application of biological data.
Actions: 1. Coordinate the development of a Biological Profile for the FGDC Geospatial Metadata Content Standard , as based on the approved proposal for development of a biological profile which the USGS Biological Resources Division submitted to the FGDC Standards Working Group in 1996. Work with FGDC Standards Working Group to have the biological profile of the Geospatial Metadata Standard approved as an FGDC standard. Take the actions required to move the Biological Profile into the review stage (Steps 6-11).
Results: A draft Biological Profile for the FGDC Geospatial Metadata Content Standard was developed and placed on public review for comment. Comment period ended Oct. 30, 1998. The BDWG received an FGDC grant, which was matched by USGS/BRD, to enlist the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) to solicit comments from their member organizations, to convene a panel of experts, to help adjudicate public comments and to provide additional advice on the development of the standard. The development of the Biological Profile, and its relationship to the FGDC geospatial metadata standard was highlighted in several presentations and exhibits at scientific and professional conferences during the year, including the American Fisheries Society, Ecological Society of America, U.S. Committee for CODATA Conference on Scientific and Technical Data Exchange and Integration, National Academy of Sciences, Association for Biodiversity Information, American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta, and the Florida Biodiversity Information Consortium.
Status: Since only a few public comments were received and they were mostly positive or related to "formatting issues", the focus of the AIBS panel will be redirected to seeing if there are any omissions in the standard and to ensure that the Biological Profile will be effective in documenting metadata for the biological sciences community.
Barriers: None foreseen at this time.
Next Steps: The BDWG will review and act on results of the AIBS panel and forward the resulting Biological Profile to the FGDC Standards Working Group for approval.
Actions: 2. Coordinate development of data content standard for biological nomenclature and taxonomy, and work with the FGDC Standards Working Group to work toward approval of this as an FGDC standard. Take the actions required to develop a biological nomenclature and taxonomy standards proposal (Steps 1-2).
Results: An FGDC standards proposal for a "Biological Nomenclature and Taxonomy Data Standard" was developed with the purpose of providing a standardized, comprehensive, and consistent reference of scientific names (nomenclature) and associated classification (taxonomy) for biological species. The FGDC solicited the proposal for public comments and the comment period closed on November 15, 1998.
Status: Numerous public comments were received and a subgroup of the BDWG is preparing responses to the public comments.
Barriers: The primary barrier is the perceived lack of understanding by some taxonomic scientists about the nature of the proposal. Their perception appeared to be that the proposed standard would "fix" nomenclature and various taxonomies at a specific point in time. Where as, the intent of the proposal was to develop a standard that provides a mechanism to have the most current and authoritative nomenclature available through an adjudicative, clearinghouse process, which would also provide complete synonymies and other taxonomic information. (This mechanism for the proposed "Biological Nomenclature and Taxonomy Data Standard" is similar to the one being developed by ESA, TNC, FGDC, and USGS for maintenance and updating of the FGDC National Vegetation Classification Standard)
Next Steps: After the public comments have been addressed, forward the proposal to the SWG for approval and proceed with the succeeding steps (3-6) in the standards development process. Develop educational materials that better explain the purpose of the standard and how it would work.
Actions: 3. Develop a long-term (3-5 year) list of other potential action areas which the Working Group will address, e.g., additional biological data standards, tools and protocols for accessing and exchanging biological data, etc. This list will, in effect serve as basis of a strategic plan for the Working Group and will be continuously refined, as needed.
Results: A list of potential action areas for the BDWG has been developed and is periodically updated.
Barriers: None, except time availability of BDWG member to take on additional activities.
Next Steps: Continue to compile potential actions, review and prioritize which activities the BDWG will address.
Goal 3: Build relationships among organizations to support the continuing development of the NSDI.
Objectives: Help to strengthen and promote linkages among FGDC subcommittees and working groups on issues and activities that pertain to biological data. Help expand the goals and objectives of the FGDC and NSDI by fostering increased awareness, coordination, and cooperation among government agencies and other organizations which are involved in collection, access, exchange, and application of biological data.
Actions: 1. Increase understanding and awareness of the respective biological data activities and programs of the member agencies of the Working Group by having each member present overview to the Group of their agency's biological data activities, interests, and responsibilities.
Results: A member of several of the agencies represented on the BDWG have made presentations about their agency's biological data activities, interests, and responsibilities.
Status: On going activity.
Next Steps: Continue presentations by existing and new agency representatives. Summaries of each member agency's biological data activities, interests, and responsibilities will also be included as part of the descriptive materials on the BDWG which will be developed in 1999, as described under Goal 1, above.
Actions: 2. Review goals and activities of other FGDC subcommittees and working groups as they pertain to collection, access, exchange, and application of biological data. Develop list of potential actions which the Working Group could undertake in conjunction with these other FGDC groups to help achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Meet with representatives of the other FGDC groups where potential joint actions are identified to discuss further steps.
Results: The other FGDC entities that appear to have activities most closely associated with the BDWG are SIMNRE (Sample Inventory and Monitoring of Natural Resources and the Environment) Working Group, Vegetation Subcommittee and Wetlands Subcommittee. The BDWG has membership that are also representatives on the other subcommittees and working group which provides built-in cross communication. Collaboration with these entities has occurred regarding the "Biological Metadata Profile" and "Biological Nomenclature and Taxonomy Data Standard" proposal.
Status: There have been informal discussions within the BDWG and a representative of SIMNRE Working Group on merging the SIMNRE Working Group into the BDWG.
Barriers: None envisioned.
Next Steps: Continue on-going dialogues and interactions with SIMNRE Working Group, Vegetation Subcommittee and Wetlands Subcommittee especially in relation to the "Biological Metadata Profile" and "Biological Nomenclature and Taxonomy Data Standard" activities.
Actions: 3. Begin development of a list of programs and activities outside the FGDC structure (e.g., private sector, State or local government, professional societies, etc.) that are related to biological data standards development, biological data access and exchange tools and protocols, etc. This list will be continuously updated and will serve as a reference for the Working Group to help leverage, build on, and incorporate existing work and products that support the goals of the Working group and the FGDC in the biological data arena.
Results: The BDWG has not explicitly begun work on this activity because of various standards development activities. However, BRD's NBII activities have been working on these types of activities and placing them on the NBII website (which is linked to both the main FGDC website and the BDWG website).
Next Steps: Have an NBII representative brief the BDWG about it activities in this area. Determine how the BDWG would like to proceed with this activity such as, join in the NBII effort and use that as a method to reach this goal and objective, use the NBII effort as a starting point for the BDWG's own implementation, or some other approach.