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Research tying spatial data to resiliency and development goals

One goal of this blog and our book is to raise awareness and action to develop data sets, data standards, and data portals so that decisions will be increasingly made with geospatial information.  One of the chief challenges to this is the persistent lack of geospatial information.  It isn’t just “us” as the GIS practitioners talking with each other about this.  As far back as 1992, Goodchild, Haining and others were pointing out this very thing in their article in the International Journal of GIS.

More recently, research studies have appeared that tie spatial data to much broader resiliency and development initiatives–specifically, that the lack of data is hindering some much broader planet-wide goals.   A white paper entitled Transforming Our World:  Geospatial Information: Key to Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development ties the need for geospatial data to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  In yet another example, both of the following studies indicate that the lack of data is one of the biggest obstacles to progress toward the UN development goals.

  • United Nations Independent Expert Advisory Group (UN). 2014. A World That Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development. A Report to the UN Secretary General. New York, NY: United Nations, p. 28.
  • Stuart, E., E. Samman, W. Avis, and T. Berliner. 2015. The data revolution: finding the missing millions. ODI Research Report 03. London: Overseas Development Institute, p. 51.

The following study states that advances in research on resilience and vulnerability are hampered by access to reliable data.

  • Barrett, C. B. and D.D. Headey. 2014. Measuring resilience in a risky world: Why, where, how, and who? 2020 Conference Brief, 1. May 17-19, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Washington, D.C: International Food Policy Research Institute.

The biological and conservation community has been particularly active in this area, pointing out the unequal distribution of biodiversity data across the globe, by region, over time, and also in the coverage of certain taxa and ecosystems, such as in the following articles.

  • Amano, T., Sutherland, WJ.  2013.  Four barriers to the global understanding of biodiversity conservation: Wealth, language, geographical location, and security.  Proceedings of the Royal Society B  280.  (article 20122649)
  • Gaiji, S., Chavan, V., Ariño, AH., Otegui, J., Hobern, D., Sood, R., Robles, E.  2013.  Content assessment of the primary biodiversity data published through GBIF network: Status, challenges, and potentials.  Biodiversity Informatics 8(94):  172.
  • Osawa, T., Jinbo, U, Iwasaki, N.  2014.   Current status and future perspective on “Open Data” in biodiversity science, Japan.  Japanese Journal of Ecology 64:  153-162.
    If you have others to add to this list, please comment and share!

    The lack of geospatial information hinders the ability to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other major global initiatives.  —Photograph by Joseph Kerski.

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