Author Archives: codata_blog

November 2021: Publications in the Data Science Journal

Title: A Framework for Data-Driven Solutions with COVID-19 Illustrations
Author: Kassim S. Mwitondi , Raed A. Said
Title: Interconnecting Systems Using Machine-Actionable Data Management Plans – Hackathon Report
Author: João Cardoso, Leyla Jael Castro, Tomasz Miksa
Title: Keeping Track of Samples in Multidisciplinary Fieldwork
Author: Pål Gunnar Ellingsen, Lara Ferrighi, Øystein Godøy, Tove Margrethe Gabrielsen

Disaster Risk Reduction and Open Data Newsletter: December 2021 Edition

World Bank: Disaster risk insurance: 5 insights from the Philippines
With disasters a growing threat, insurance for countries trying to manage climate and disaster risk is becoming increasingly critical. While insight on what works – and what doesn’t – to build resilience is still limited, the experience of the Philippines shows how countries can improve their protection to disasters by working with international insurance markets.

Science supporting policy in disaster risk management: providing the data and knowledge for transitioning to a climate-proof resilient society
The representatives of the EC’s Joint Research Centre recently discussed the INFORM risk assessment, an evidence-based methodology to support decision-making on humanitarian crises and disasters, extended recently to the regions of Caucasus and Central Asia and South Eastern Europe

Kiribati: Fishing for food and resilience
Located in the centre of the Pacific, the Republic of Kiribati is known for being one of the world’s smallest and most remote island nations. In fact, it is remarkably large: 33 atoll islands spread across an ocean territory of more than 3.5 million square kilometers. The vast waters – one of the world’s biggest Exclusive Economic Zones – constitute some of the richest and most diverse ecosystems on Earth, supporting hundreds of species as well as the livelihoods, health, culture, and way of life of local people. However, in the global narratives about climate change, island nations such as Kiribati have been seen as ‘poster children’ for the risks of a warming planet.

The need for medium-range forecasting in early warning systems to improve risk outcomes
High-impact weather events – floods, storms, cyclones – threaten human life and property, as well as affecting the economy and inflicting significant societal hazards. Being able to predict these events accurately, and with sufficient lead times, enables people to prepare for them. It is also more cost-effective: a dollar invested in disaster preparedness – which reduces people’s vulnerability to the impacts – can prevent six dollars’ worth of disaster-related economic losses.

One billion children at ‘extremely high risk’ of climate impacts
Young people living in the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau are the most at risk of the impacts of climate change, threatening their health, education, and protection, and exposing them to deadly diseases, according to a UNICEF report launched today. ‘The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index’ is the first comprehensive analysis of climate risk from a child’s perspective. It ranks countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as cyclones and heatwaves, as well as their vulnerability to those shocks, based on their access to essential services.

Post-disaster needs assessments guidelines: Volume B – Environment
The main objective of PDNA–Environment is to prepare a recovery strategy that guides the restoration of environment and natural resources damaged due to a disaster. This should also enable environmentally friendly rebuilding in all sectors. The recovery plan also supports the restoration of environment and natural resources as a disaster risk reduction (DRR) strategy.

Words into Action: Nature-based solutions for disaster risk reduction
This guide aims to give practical, how-to-do information on setting up and implementing nature-based solutions (NbS), especially for disaster risk reduction (DRR), but also for climate change adaptation (CCA). It is designed to help implement the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (hereafter referred to as the Sendai Framework). The Sendai Framework recognizes that environmental degradation can cause hazards and that disasters also have an impact on the environment.

From protection to prevention: The role of cooperative and mutual insurance in DRR
This report, prepared by the ICMIF-UNDRR collaboration, presents seven mechanisms gleaned from case studies compiled across the cooperative and mutual insurance sector and from a literature review on the role of insurance in supporting disaster risk reduction and resilience. It focuses on preventing new risks and reducing existing risk is more urgent than ever because disasters can erase development gains and hinder progress, often for years to come, such as in the case of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, pandemics or major technological disasters.

UNDRR Briefing Package for UN Resident Coordinators and UN Country Teams
This briefing package sets out how UNDRR can better support UNRCs and UNCTs to deliver sustainable development benefits at a country level from a DRR angle. The options proposed here can be adjusted to meet the needs of the regional UN development system architecture. This package includes an information checklist, support tools and information that UNDRR has developed to support national governments and UN partners to reduce risks and losses as guided by the Sendai Framework.

 Can ecosystems protect populations? New evidence published
While it is generally assumed that ecosystems, such as mangroves, coral reefs or sand dunes, play an important role in reducing risks from hazard events, there are few comprehensive studies that gather scientific evidence on the services these ecosystems provide, and the functions they fulfil for disaster risk reduction.

Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Resilience: Linking Science, Tech, Policy and Practice
Objectives of the webinar include discussing the current state of nature-based solutions that are undertaken globally and identifying success stories and how this can be replicated to scale for impact.

Workshop Announcement and Call for Applications: Enlargement and Integration – Digital Transformation, Data and AI in the Western Balkans
The workshop “Digital Transformation, Data and AI in the Western Balkans” aims to investigate how digital technologies, data and AI influence changes in our societies. Europe’s ambition is to become the world-leading region for developing and deploying cutting edge, ethical and secure AI, as well as to promote a human-centric approach in the global context.

9th Global Dialogue Platform on Anticipatory Humanitarian Action – Virtual Edition: 7th – 9th December 2021
Join us for a series of panel discussions, thematic presentations and interactive events that will bring together practitioners, scientists and government representatives from around the world to explore how anticipatory action can address the compounding and intertwined effects of the climate crisis, rising conflicts and economic shocks on the world’s most vulnerable people.

International Science Council – Health Inequalities: New Methods, Better Insights?
At this conference of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), the final report of the ALLEA/FEAM Health Inequalities project will be presented to a wider audience. The technical contents of this report, ‘Health inequalities: new methods, better insights?’, have already been discussed extensively at a series of well-attended workshops. This conference aims to provide a forum for discussing the implications of the report for research and policy. How can new research methods help us to better understand health inequalities, and how can better science help policymakers to reduce health inequalities more effectively?

#AGU21: Science is Society
The AGU Fall Meeting is the primary gathering for Earth and space scientists, students, and those in affiliated fields to share scientific findings and identify innovative solutions. With in-person and worldwide online participation, attendees will have numerous opportunities to network with government regulators, scientific visionaries, and industry thought-leaders. Join our diverse community in New Orleans and Online Everywhere 13 – 17 December 2021.

20th Swiss Climate Summer School 2022 – Extreme weather and climate
Swiss Climate Research, the network of leading Swiss institutions in climate research and education, invites young scientists (PhD students and postdocs) to join high-profile climate researchers in a scenic Swiss Alpine setting for keynote lectures, workshops and poster sessions on the occasion of the 20th Swiss Climate Summer School 2022.

FAIR Data for Disaster Risk Research – Task Group renewal proposal

Bapon Fakhruddin and Li Guoqing, co-chairs

After four terms of study, the award winning FAIR Data for Disaster Risk Research (FAIR-DRR) has focused itself on addressing enabling technology (i.e. decision support system, rapid damage mapping, etc.), scientific questions, technical challenges, and best practices of disaster data standards and applications in risk assessment across disciplines, development partners and governments.  FAIR-DRR also developed a data ecosystem by integrated other networks to work collaboratively (i.e. IRDR of UNDRR, GEO-DRR, NASA DRR working group, SDG, Disaster Statistic etc.) and applied data for cross-domain studies.  These activities closely allied with the ISC’s Decadal Programme “Making data work for cross-domain grand challenges”.

FAIR-DRR is an increasingly important activity linking and ensuring coherence of major global milestones – the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR), Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), Paris Agreement for Climate Change and the New Urban Agenda (NUA)-Habitat III.

The experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic in the past year have made all disciplines keenly aware that solutions to complex and difficult problems require data to be readily assessable and actionable by machines using big data in combination with the most advanced hardware and software technologies. Our technology is advancing rapidly, however, our data systems are not able to achieve the same milestones. The fundamental enabler of data-driven science is an ecosystem of resources that enable data to be FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable) for humans and machines. This ecosystem must include effective, maximally automated stewardship of data, and effective terminologies,  metadata specifications and partnerships.

Following these works the Fifth term of the FAIR-DRR task group proposed the following objectives for the 2022-2023 term.

  • Volunteer Rapid Disaster Monitoring and Mapping in collaboration with Earth-GEO
  • Enhance interdisciplinary data integration using FAIR-DRR’s sequence, partnership with other networks and documenting good practices.
  • Engage with users and sectors for greater alignment and consistency of hazard definitions, standardisation of data loss quantification and risk assessment
  • Demonstrate transdisciplinary approaches linking climate scientists, engineers and sectoral professionals to identify future emerging and complex research using data
  • Capacity building using monthly newsletters, policy papers, conference, webinars and white papers.

In this video, Li Guoqing and Bapon Fakhruddin lay out the key activities and achievements of the Task Group in the past terms, detail their objectives for the next two years and invite participation in FAIR DRR.

Proposals of the Renewed Task Group “Advanced Mathematical Tools for Data-Driven Applied System Analysis”

Fred S. Roberts, Igor Sheremet Co-Chairs

Background: Resilience of Digitized Complex Systems
Today’s society has become dependent on complex systems, enabled by increased digitization of our world and the increasing availability of vast amounts of data, that have had a great impact on virtually all facets of our lives and our societies: enabling our financial transactions, running our power grid, underpinning our transportation systems, empowering our health care, supporting the rapid delivery of supplies and materials. Yet these changes have made us vulnerable to natural disasters, deliberate attacks, just plain errors. A challenge is to develop ways to make our complex systems more resilient. We propose to continue the work of the “Task Group Advanced Mathematical Tools for Data-Driven Applied System Analysis” to address this challenge through the development and refinement of a toolkit of advanced mathematical tools.

Mathematical Tools to Enhance Resilience
Modern technological and sociotechnological systems consist of numerous critical infrastructures that are strongly interconnected, which makes them vulnerable to multiple chain or cascading destructive impacts. Vast amounts of data need to be taken into account in understanding the performance of such infrastructures and their interconnections, and understanding how to make them resilient. Mathematical tools can assist with this and in particular the Task Group will study algorithms for responding to a disruption that will enhance resilience, i.e., minimize the departure from a previous state when things settle down after a disruption.

Mathematical Tools to Design Resilient Systems
In addition to helping us understand how to bring a system back to a normal state as rapidly as possible, mathematical methods can aid us in understanding how to design systems so as to make them more resilient in case of disruption. Modern complex systems may include millions of interconnected components (humans, devices, buildings, etc.), so to design a system with a predefined level of resiliency, it is necessary to represent in some formal way a system’s structure and logic of operation, and to develop an appropriate mathematical and algorithmic toolkit that can provide for efficient search for solutions over the extra-large volumes of data associated with digitized systems in today’s era of Big Data. This is a major goal of our proposed renewed Task Group.

The Task Group’s Approach
In the pages that follow, we describe the basic components of our approach. This consists of taking advantage of a multidisciplinary team, each bringing to the dialogue their own mathematical expertise and tools (whether it be graphs and networks, simulation tools, or the theory of algorithmic decision making), developing ways to share the tools, and studying how to relate them to an organizing component designed around a multiset-based (multigrammatical framework). Pilot software for components of the improved mathematical and knowledge engineering framework will be implemented in standard platforms and carefully documented. We also describe the connection to other Task Groups, to the CODATA Decadal Program, and the collaboration with the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The plans for the renewed Task Group are modeled after the successes of our first TG, namely webinars, a workshop, scientific papers, and a research monograph.

Read the full presentation

Task Group on Data from Participatory Mapping for the SDGs

By Carolynne Hultquist and Peter Elias

The overall objective of the Task Group on Data from Participatory Mapping for the SDGs is to study data on environmental changes generated by participatory mapping projects and platforms for the specific requirements of the Result Framework proposed by the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda. Namely we focus on indicators associated with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and other high-level policy frameworks, such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the post-2020 biodiversity monitoring framework proposed by the Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD). The alignment facilitates and encourages the inclusion of participatory mapping in the official monitoring of the SDGs and other policies at local, national, and global levels. Our group is particularly interested in evaluating the use of Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) data for underrepresented groups in relation to global environmental challenges.

Participatory GIS provides a powerful methodology in which open spatial data are contributed and in turn, accessible web-based tools enable all stakeholders to track progress at a local, regional, or even global level. However, data generated by participatory mapping projects are not yet included in the official framework to monitor the SDGs, despite the abundant literature illustrating that citizens can contribute high-quality data. Work previously supported by the CODATA–WDS TG on Citizen Science and the Validation, Curation, and Management of Crowdsourced data illustrated a wide range of actual practices. Growing support for Citizen Science also exists under the UN, with UN Environment recently supporting the establishment of a Citizen Science Global Partnership (

The TG seeks to facilitate and encourage the use of participatory mapping and Participatory Geographic Information Systems (PGIS) by envisaging a framework for evaluation and use that will facilitate the mapping of data to the specific requirements of the SDG framework. Participatory mapping is a sub-category of citizen science that involves spatial data while PGIS even more specifically involves user contributions and changes to spatial data being available in a public digital GIS environment. Surveying the platforms will provide visibility to participatory mapping data and their use in filling some of the official data gaps, while challenging the scientific community to identify targeted methods and data to tackle the remaining gaps. Sharing of ‘SDG-mapped’ data will produce benefits well beyond scientific results, strengthen the science-policy interface, and help amplify the societal impact of citizen science.

The activities of the TG will include the following tasks:

  • Survey of participatory mapping data use by national statistical offices (NSO), health, environment, and humanitarian organizations, government agencies, and community groups
  • Survey data practices of PGIS platforms/community science groups
  • Develop a framework for evaluation of participatory mapping and share lessons learned for effective practices for metadata, stewardship, validation, and management
  • Demonstrate the use of participatory mapping through case studies; e.g., underrepresented groups (slum, refugee, extreme poverty, isolated Pacific island communities) in relation to global challenges (e.g. health pandemic – COVID-19, climate change – flooding, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), biodiversity monitoring, etc.).
  • Explore possible ways to map existing and historic participatory mapping data to the indicators framework, including the possibility to propose new indicators inferred by the data and more relevant to people’s life and experience.
  • Explore the potential for data on human capital in volunteer activity from participatory mapping platforms; namely, data on the engagement of volunteers and subsequent learning/social/civic outcomes to support indicators. This incorporates issues of inclusiveness in monitoring and data collection, thus ensuring ‘leaving no one behind’.
  • Collaborate with UN statistical offices and other UN stakeholders to gather requirements and develop shared glossaries to support the inclusion of participatory mapping in the list of accepted ‘non-official’ data providers for the SDGs.
  • Work with the UN, including the UN Environment and Development Programmes,UN Habitat, and Convention for Biological Diversity (CBD), to continue to gain support for participatory mapping and strengthen the science–policy interface.

The outcomes of the above activities will include the study of concrete use cases that exemplifies the value of participatory mapping for a specific indicator by illustrating the creation and implementation of a participatory mapping project. The use cases will feature a complete ‘participatory mapping for SDGs’ cycle: identification of a data gap, design of the project, implementation, data collection, data analysis, and data sharing with UN officials. The final result in such an example could be a change in policy in the best-case scenario. The analysis of these use cases will help extract common practices and simple data policies that can be generalized to other projects and countries.

Daisy Selematsela: Candidacy for CODATA Executive Committee

This is the tenth in the series of short statements from candidates in the coming CODATA Elections at the General Assembly to be held on 15-16 November, 2021.  Daisy Selematsela is a candidate for the CODATA Executive Committee as an Ordinary Member. She was nominated by South Africa.

Daisy Selematsela has experience in the South African Higher Education sector and within the National System of Innovation (NSI). 

Daisy serves on a number of scientific bodies and also as an editorial board member of a number of journals and the Global Change Research Data Publishing and Repository and a reviewer of several programs.

She serves on a number of national boards and Advisory Councils. Internationally she is a former Board member of Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR). Serves as a member of Board of Directors of ORCID (represent EMEA – East Asia, Middle East and Africa) and Research4Life.

Daisy contributed to the ICSU and CODATA on a number of forums, contributed to position papers, co-ordinated workshops, chaired conference sessions and made numerous local and international presentations on areas related to CODATA objectives. She has served CODATA in the following areas:

Data Science Journal Review – corresponding Editor 2009

Served as ex-officio member of the South African National Committee for CODATA for 11 years.

World Data Centre on Biodiversity and Human Health prototype proposal and hosting;

Executive member: International Council for Science Union (ICSU SCID) ad Hoc Committee on Information and Data in 2007.

Chair: International Council for Science: Committee on Data for Science & Technology (ICSU: CODATA) Task Group on Data Sources for Sustainable Development in SADC 2007 -2011.

Executive member: (ICSU EDC Panel) International Science Union World Data Centre Panel2008.

Member: CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in/for/with Developing Countries. Co-chairs: CODATA – WDS joint subgroup 2011 to date.

CODATA Executive member from 2018 – 2021

Chairperson of South African National Committee for CODATA 2021 -2023

She was part of the Founding and Executive Members of the International Data Forum (IDF) 2007-2010. Instrumental in the formulation of Statement on Open Access for grant funding; Statement on ORCID ID and Predatory Publishing.

She holds a PhD in Information Science and is also Professor of Practice of Information and Knowledge Management of the University of Johannesburg.; a Fellow of the Higher Education Resource Service for Women in Higher Education (HERS) South Africa and Bryn Mawr College in Philadelphia, USA. Acknowledged with the Knowledge Management Award in 2016 by the World Education Congress.

Objective of serving in CODATA Exco will enhance the positioning of global South open science and open data challenges and cement CODATA Decadal program in the region.

Ajit Kembhavi: Candidacy for CODATA Executive Committee

This is the eleventh in the series of short statements from candidates in the coming CODATA Elections at the General Assembly to be held on 15-16 November, 2021.  Ajit Kembhavi is a candidate for the CODATA Executive Committee as an Ordinary Member. He was nominated by India.

I am an astronomer.  I am an Emeritus Professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) located in Pune, India.  I am a Founder-Member of IUCAA  and was Director there during  2009-15.  I have had to use data extensively in my profession as an astronomer.  Going beyond that, I have led various national and international projects on data management, analysis and visualisation.  I have been associated with some important astronomy data centres in the world including the Centre for Astronomical Data (CDS) in Strasbourg France where I was a member of the Scientific Council for three years and its Chair for six years.  I have also been the Chairperson of the International Virtual Observatory Alliance.

As an astronomer I have worked in projects which involved large volumes of data, in the form of catalogues, images and spectra.   I have used data extensively from original observations  as well as archives, and have used a variety of sophisticated data processing packages over four decades.  I have myself  developed packages for morphological analysis of galaxy images, and over recent years I have extensively used AI techniques in the analysis.

A major data related project I have been working on is Virtual Observatories (VO).  The VO were set up in several countries around 20 years ago, and are federated in the International Virtual Observatory  Alliance (IVOA), whose aim is to make astronomical data in all forms freely accessible to the astronomical community in an interoperable manner, along with tools for dealing with all aspects of the data.  I led the Virtual Observatory – India (VOI) project which has made valuable contributions to the international effort.  I was for two years the  Chair of the IVOA.  Another major funded project that I led in recent years involved providing data related services, including preparing archives and tools for astronomers and astronomy projects in India and South Africa, including the Office for Astronomy for Development of the International Astronomical Union in Cape Town.  As Chair of the Scientific  Council of the Astronomical Data Centre (CDS) in Strasbourg, which is the leading provider of archived astronomical data in the world, I was extensively involved in setting policies and programmes, and monitoring actions of all data related activities of the CDS and its personnel. I have been involved with data management matters for the Thirty Meter telescope project and the LIGO-India project.

I am presently the Principal Investigator of a major  project called the Pune Knowledge Cluster (PKC) which brings together the academia, R&D organisations and industries to work on projects for the betterment of the city of Pune and its surrounding regions, with focus on projects in environment, health, sustainable mobility and capacity building.  All the projects are data driven.  One of the major projects we are engaged in is on COVID-19 data.  We have obtained patient and clinical data on over half a million infected persons from the Pune region, as well data from genome sequencing being carried out on about 50,000 samples from infected persons.  We are engaged in producing databases and providing tools, with the aim to move to a large epidemiological database on a  variety of infectious diseases.

I am presently the Chair of the National CODATA Committee, through which we are bringing together  the scientific and technical community, from diverse domains, involved in large scale use of data.  We are carrying out various activities, which we hope will become more varied and inclusive as the restriction imposed by the pandemic are eased and free movement becomes possible.  We have been organising periodic webinars by experts on a variety of data related topics .

Christine Kirkpatrick: Candidacy for CODATA Secretary General

This is the twelfth in the series of short statements from candidates in the coming CODATA Elections at the General Assembly to be held on 15-16 November, 2021.  Christine Kirkpatrick is a candidate for the position of CODATA Secretary General. She was nominated by the USA. 

My experience in research computing has included developing infrastructures including distributed storage at scale, and private and hybrid cloud environments, as well as leading or serving on research teams in the Geosciences, Life Sciences, and Social Sciences domains. I remember the moment that I became a data person: I was working with a group of research staff to test an event detection algorithm against a social media dataset. The results were promising, and we wanted to try it against similar datasets to measure improvement in the accuracy of the algorithm. We requested from a close collaborator the data associated with a recent paper and were told that the data was lost – and worse, the researcher was not that concerned as they had already published the paper. 

In my role as Division Director of Research Data Services for the San Diego Supercomputer Center, I see up close the struggle and promise of our current approaches to mine data out of vast and heterogeneous stores of bits. When I walk the rows of machines in the data center and survey the Petabytes of storage under our care, I wonder how many answers to the challenges we face as a society lay behind the blinking lights. If data was collected, annotated, and stored in a way that was easier to access, how much quicker could scientists contribute to the mysteries of our origins, and toward the harmony, equity, and wellness of all living things and our planet, as well as discoveries about what lies beyond our galaxy? Organizations like CODATA play a key role in the advancement of the mission to mine insights from existing and ever growing data. CODATA represents a multi-national and multi-sector community, providing a forum for global exchange and advancement of data-driven scientific inquiry.  CODATA serves as an important partner in the Data Together initiative co-hosting and co-leading initiatives with the World Data System (WDS), the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and GO FAIR. I will bring to the role of Secretary General a commitment to engage with the community, to seek mutual understanding of membership’s perspectives, and to be accessible to members to help and advocate for their needs.