Report of the North American UNEP/GRID Users' Meeting

May 12-13, 1994

EROS Data Center
United States Geological Survey
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57198 USA

Agenda for the UNEP/GRID Users' Meeting

Thursday, May 12, 1994

Chair:  Peter S. Thacher        Rapporteur:  Tom Loveland

 8:30 -  9:00        Introduction 
               	     Welcome by Don Lauer, Chief, EROS Data Center
                     Objectives, Agenda, Logistics

 9:00 -  9:30        Statement by representatives of UNEP, NASA, UNDP, 
                     and WRI

 9:30 - 10:00        Information for Decision Making:  Post UNCED
                     Opportunities -- Peter S. Thacher

10:00 - 10:30        From Global Change Research to Local Uses -- John Townshend

10:30 - 11:00        Coffee Break

11:00 - 11:30        Tour of EROS Data Center

11:30 - 12:30        Lunch

12:30 -  1:00        GRID-Sioux Falls Activities -- Ashbindu Singh

 1:00 -  1:15        Global 1 km. Land Cover Characterization Database -- Tom 

 1:15 -  1:30        Global Topographic Database -- Sue Jenson

 1:30 -  1:45        Accessibility of GRID Data Sets and a Demonstration of Country
                     Data Sampler -- Darrel VanderZee

 1:45 -  2:00        Harmonization of Socio-Economic and Physical Data - A Case Study      
                     of Senegal -- Gray Tappan

 2:00 -  2:30        Gap Analysis in Biodiversity -- Tom Edwards
                     Information Super Highway and Electronic Encyclopedia of
                     GAP -- Tony Butzer and Brian Biggs

 2:30 -  3:00        Coffee Break

 3:00 -  5:00        User Needs and Feedback (comments by participants)    

 6:30                Dinner

Friday, May 13, 1994

 8:30 - 10:00        Discussion and Recommendations
                     (Role and activities of UNEP/GRID and other international
                     agencies in interfacing data, networking, technological
                     linkage between developed and developing countries)

10:00 - 10:30        Coffee Break

10:30 - 11:30        Continue

11:30 - 12:00        Summary by the Chairman

12:00                Meeting Adjourns

Recommendations from the North American UNEP/GRID Users' Meeting

May 12-13, 1994
EROS Data Center
United States Geological Survey
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA

General Comments

GRID-Sioux Falls, part of the United Nations Environment Programme's Global Resources Information Database (UNEP/GRID), is in a unique position to continue to provide supporting services to the international scientific community, such as to ICSU's "Global Change" programme, and, additionally, to assist in the infusion of advanced technologies into developing country programmes supported by the international development community. GRID-Sioux Falls has access to state-of-the-art resources for remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) database development, data management, and data distribution of the sort called for in Agenda-21 approved at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio to attain "sustainable development". But if these resources are to be applied to the benefit of developing countries, much closer ties will be needed with the development community, especially with UNDP in connection with its lead agency role in "capacity-building". This is a particularly important function for GRID-Sioux Falls, given the numerous and growing global data sources such as global land characteristics data base, global topographic database, and global soils texture database, many of which would be of value to developing countries, yet are not readily available to them.

The participants attending the North America UNEP/GRID users meeting recommend a series of programmes, activities and strategies that will allow the effective expansion and strengthening of this function. The recommendations deal both with the overall mission of UNEP/GRID, and specific aspects of the GRID-Sioux Falls operation.

UNEP/GRID Mission Recommendations

  1. Given that UNEP has an established international mission and may more readily be accepted across national boundaries than national institutions, it it is recommended that UNEP/GRID build on its present infrastructure to play a major role for information management and coordinating access to data in support of new UNEP mandates (especially those arising from government approval of Rio's Agenda 21). GRID, with its long-standing infrastructure for database collection and distribution, is the logical leader of this activity.
  2. GRID should establish close collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) so that it can take advantage of UNDP's presence in developing countries for outreach activities and contribute to national capacity building. In particular, UNEP/GRID and UNDP should initiate discussions with a view to developing a collaborative effort to improve the use of spatially referenced data for sustainable development purposes at the national level, including the provision of new insights and knowledge gained through international scientific work, such as under ICSU's "Global Change".
  3. In order to increase the chances of success, UNEP/GRID should make efforts to identify and cultivate its users more precisely. They should focus on a few key customer types rather than try to do something for everyone. Specifically, we recommend that GRID:
  4. In order to provide the needed services to a growing user community, GRID should develop an action-oriented plan that identifies a strategy for providing access to data, increasing the awareness of the types and roles of data resources, and improving user capacities to utilize appropriate data.
  5. GRID should take on a proactive leadership role and promote the data clearinghouse concept in which a linked network of partnerships with other data archive and management centers as well as with major database producers is used to provide databases to users. In particular, GRID should:
  6. UNEP should ensure adequate resources are available for GRID data management.
  7. GRID should catalyze and coordinate the assembly of databases. GRID should also take an active role in generating value added products and demonstrating the value of harmonizing data so that the data are more useful for environmental and sustainable development applications.
  8. GRID should use demonstration projects to inform and cultivate its user community and should investigate the use of pilot countries to improve its methodology for disseminating data in formats designed to be useful to users at differing levels of experience. For example, working in close partnership with UNDP, GRID could work with key organizations within countries that have database experience, and use them as their diffusion network into country decision making bodies.

GRID-Sioux Falls Mission Recommendations

Meeting participants enthusiastically endorsed the accomplishments of GRID-Sioux Falls. The group was particularly impressed with the use of innovative partnerships in a wide range of activities including database development, data distribution, technical assistance, and programme development. The consensus was that GRID-Sioux Falls provides an excellent model for the entire UNEP/GRID programme. Their access to unique expertise in remote sensing, GIS, and electronic data handling and networking is significant and should be leveraged to benefit the entire UN system and other potential GRID partners in the development and scientific communities.

To support an improved UNEP/GRID, meeting participants recommended that GRID-Sioux Falls:

  1. Develop a "Strategic Acquisition Plan" with UNDP that specifies data requirements, priorities, mechanisms, partnerships, and milestones for the development of an improved databases for sustainable development.
  2. Continue its efforts to identify, test, and implement electronic data access and distribution mechanisms, such as "Mosaic". This capability needs to be developed, and complimentary activities initiated, to provide practical products to users with a variety of technological capabilities.
  3. Continue its global focus. However, GRID-Sioux Falls should also accelerate their efforts in expanding services throughout the Western Hemisphere. One crucial aspect of this is to work toward increasing partnerships in this Hemisphere.
  4. Continue its efforts to distribute programme, technology, and methodology information that is relevant and beneficial to developing countries.
  5. GRID-Sioux Falls should continue its effort to convince the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency to release their global set of Digital Terrain Elevation Data (DTED) for use by the international community. In particular, GRID-Sioux Falls should serve as a catalyst for articulating the importance of such data sets for developing country applications.
Finally, meeting participants concluded that GRID-Sioux Falls should continue to take advantage of its unique access to the state-of-the-art data management, networking, distribution, and data set development capabilities of the EROS Data Center. GRID-Sioux Falls should play an expanded support mission for the whole of UNEP. However, to do this, they will need to enlist new sources of support. Together with new partners GRID-Sioux Falls should seek additional funding so that it can provide additional support to the rest of UNEP. A possible strategy for this is to have all UNEP units examine their needs, compare these needs to GRID-Sioux Falls capabilities, and determine if they should transfers resources to GRID-Sioux Falls for support services.

List of Participants

Peter S. Thacher
Earth Council Foundation-U.S.
1709 New York Avenue NW, Suite 210
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel: 202-628-4840
Fax: 202-628-4842

Eduardo Gutierrez
One UN Plaza
Room 1618
New York, NY 10017
Tel: 212-906-5500
Fax: 212-906-6663

Eric Rodenburg
World Resources Institute
1709 New York Avenue NW
Suite 700
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel: 202-662-2575
Fax: 202-628-0878

Barry Henricksen
PO Box 30552
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: 254 2 624202
Fax: 254 2 226491

Anthony Janetos
Mission to the Planet Earth
NASA Headquarters
300 E Street SW
Washington, D.C. 20546
Tel: 202-358-0272
Fax: 202-358-2771

Wayne Mooneyhan
300 D Street SW, Suite 801
Washington, D.C. 20024
Tel: 202-488-5137
Fax: 202-479-2613

Sandra Brown
200 SW 35th Street
Corvallis, OR 97333
Tel: 503-754-4346
Fax: 503-754-4799

Gyde H. Lund
USDA Forest Service
PO Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090
Tel: 202-205-1147
Fax: 202-205-1087

Louis Iverson
US Forest Service
359 Main Road
Delaware, Ohio 43105
Tel: 614-368-0097
Fax: 614-368-0152

John R. Townshend, Chair and Professor
Department of Geography
University of Maryland
Room 1113 LeFrank Hall
College Park, MD 20742
Tel: 301-405-4050
Fax: 301-314-9299

Tom Edwards
National Biological Survey
Utah Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research
Utah State University
Logan, UT 84322
Tel: 801-797-2529
Fax: 801-797-4025

Merrill K. Ridd, Director
Center for Remote Sensing and Cartography
University of Utah Research Institute
Research Park
391 Chipeta Way, Suite C
Salt Lake City, Utah 84108
Tel: 801-584-4457
Fax: 801-584-4453

James W. Merchant
Associate Professor/Director
Center for Advanced Land Management
Information Technologies
Conservation and Survey Division
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
113 Nebraska Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0517
Tel: 402-472-7531
Fax: 402-472-2410

Ron Eastman, Director
The Clark Labs
IDRISI Project
Graduate School of Geography
Clark University
950 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01610
Tel: 508-793-7526
Fax: 508-793-8881

Roman Alvarez, Director
Circuito Exterior
Ciudad Universitaria
Apdo. Postal 20-850
01000 Mexico, D.F.
Tel: 525-622-4340
Fax: 525-616-2145

Ken McGwire
Remote Sensing Research Unit
Department of Geography
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
Tel: 805-893-8743
Fax: 805-893-3703

John Katzenberger
Aspen Global Change Institute
100 E. Francis Street
Aspen, CO 81611
Tel: 303-925-7376
Fax: 303-925-7097

Dr. Yi-Fan Li
Modeling & Integration Research Division
Air Quality Research Branch
Atmospheric Environment Service
4906 Dufferin Street
Downsview, Ontario M3H 5T4
Tel: 416-739-4892
Fax: 416-739-4288

John Kineman
Global Ecosystems Database Project
National Geophysical Data Center
325 Broadway
Boulder, CO 80303
Tel: 303-497-6900
Fax: 303-497-6513

Don Lauer, Chief
EROS Data Center
United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6123
Fax: 605-594-6589

June Thormodsgard
Chief, Science and Applications Branch
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6113
Fax: 605-594-6589

Don Moore
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6008
Fax: 605-594-6589

Tom Loveland
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6066
Fax: 605-594-6589

Sue Jenson
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6011
Fax: 605-594-6589

Gray Tappan
Hughes STX
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6037
Fax: 605-594-6589

Tony Butzer
Hughes STX
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6836
Fax: 605-594-6589

Ashbindu Singh
Facility Manager
UNEP/GRID-Sioux Falls
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6105
Fax: 605-594-6589
E-mail :

Darrel VanderZee
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6854
Fax: 605-594-6589

Brian Biggs
University of California Santa Barbara,
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6108
Fax: 605-594-6589

Monika Puscher
EROS Data Center
Sioux Falls, SD 57198
Tel: 605-594-6110
Fax: 605-594-6589

[ UNEP/GRID Sioux Falls ]

Last modified: 12 November 1996.