Conservation Remote Sensing – Inviting you to get involved

Blue MarbleThe Conservation Remote Sensing Working Group (CRSWG) is extending an open invitation to join their growing community and participate in advancing conservation efforts through remote sensing.

Are you passionate about conservation? Are you experienced in remote sensing? Do you have ideas on how remote sensing and geospatial data can be better incorporated into conservation management and planning? Have you developed a new image analysis tool that will benefit the conservation community? If you’ve answered yes to any or all of these questions, then the CRWSG is interested in your input.

The mission of CRSWG is “to increase conservation effectiveness through enhanced integration of remote sensing technologies in research and applications.” Under the leadership of Dr. Robert Rose from the Wildlife Conservation Society, the CRSWG focuses on four key themes that are critical for fostering effective conservation:

Research and Collaboration – “Greater collaboration amongst remote sensing scientists and practitioners will create a critical link between the novel and visionary work of remote sensing scientists and the on-the-ground experience of conservation practitioners.”

Capacity Development – Improved education and awareness “will allow conservationists around the globe to broaden their understanding of applied remote sensing, gain skill sets needed for finding, processing and analyzing remotely sensed data and associated products, and develop an understanding of remote sensing that allows them to integrate remote sensing into conservation.”

Best Practices – “A series of standards and recommendations” are needed “for the best use of remote sensing for conservation applications…, focusing on data collection, generation and integration, validation, models and remote sensing-derived products, as well as application of new technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Communications – “The goal is to curate and share critical information, both inward, to the conservation remote sensing community, and outward, communicating to the broader conservation community and others who may be interested in the applications of remote sensing for conservation.”

To learn more, or better yet to join the group, just follow this link, or visit Google Groups and search for “Conservation Remote Sensing”, and then select “Apply to join group”.

HySpeed Computing is participating in this community and encourages you to add your voice to the discussion.

Crowdfunding in Space – Democratizing support for satellite and space inspired projects

ARKYDEver come up with the next great idea in remote sensing, space technology or geospatial inspired art? Interested in alternative sources to fund your idea? Check out these innovators who have turned to crowdfunding to support their projects:

  • ARKYD: A Space Telescope for Everyone has raised $1,234,748 on Kickstarter (and still going this month) to develop and launch a space telescope that can be controlled by users to acquire images of deep space.
  • SkyCube: The First Satellite Launched by You! raised $116,890 on Kickstarter to build a small nano-satellite that will take images of the Earth and broadcast simple messages from space. SkyCube is scheduled for launch in November 2013 on a SpaceX launch to the International Space Station.
  • ArduSat – Your Adruino Experiment in Space raised $106,300 on Kickstarter for completing system integration tasks on an open platform CubeSat that can be used by the public to “run their own space-based applications” and experiments.
  • Space Elevator Science – Climb to the Sky – A Tethered Tower raised $110,353 on Kickstarter to build a platform of tethered high-altitude balloons and a robot that can climb two kilometers up to those balloons.
  • Uwingu – A New Way to Fund Space Exploration, Research and Education raised $79,896 on Indiegogo to fund start-up costs for creating The Uwingu Fund, which will “provide grants to those that propose meritorious projects in space exploration, space research or space education.”
  • KickSat – Your personal spacecraft in space! Raised $74,586 on Kickstarter to build a fleet of Sprite Spacecraft, tiny satellites about the size of a few postage stamps, and a larger CubeSat that will be used to deploy the Sprites once in orbit.
  • Plasma Jet Electric Thrusters for Spacecraft raised $72,871 on Kickstarter to develop a prototype plasma jet thruster for interplanetary transportation.
  • Hermes Spacecraft raised $20,843 on Kickstarter to develop and test rocket thrusters for a reusable suborbital spacecraft.
  • Safe is Not An Option: Our Futile Obsession in Spaceflight raised $5,341 on Kickstarter to publish a book “on our irrational approach to safety in human spaceflight.”
  • Painting for Satellites raised $3,525 on Kickstarter to paint rooftops as large-scale artwork to be viewed from orbiting satellites.
  • Let’s launch a Balloon into Space raised $3,384 on Gofundme for a sixth grade class to launch a weather balloon into near space.
  • Be a Producer on Timothy Feathergrass: The Movie! raised $2,794 on Kickstarter to support film festival entry fees for a movie about a “young man who builds a satellite but can’t afford to launch it into space.”
  • There are also a number of other projects just getting started.

Just think of the possibilities for your next great idea.

For more information: Kickstarter; Indiegogo; Gofundme

HyPhoon is coming!


HySpeed computing is proud to announce the coming launch of HyPhoon:

  • A gateway for the access and exchange of datasets, applications and knowledge.
  • A pathway for you to expand your impact and extend your community outreach.
  • A framework for the development and deployment of scientific applications.
  • A resource for obtaining and sharing geospatial datasets.
  • A mechanism for improved technology transfer.
  • A marketplace for scientific computing.

The initial HyPhoon release, coming soon in mid-2013, will focus on providing the community with free and open access to remote sensing datasets. This data will be available for the community to use in research projects, class assignments, algorithm development, application testing and validation, and in some cases also commercial applications. In other words, in the spirit of encouraging innovation, these datasets are offered as a community resource and open to your creativity. We look forward to seeing what you accomplish.

We’ll be announcing the official HyPhoon release here, so stay tuned to be the first to access the data as soon as it becomes available!

Our objective when developing these datasets has been to focus on quality rather than any predefined set of content requirements. Thus, dataset contents are variable. Many of the datasets include a combination of imagery, validation data, and example output. Some datasets include imagery of the same area acquired using different sensors, different resolutions, or different dates. And other datasets simply include unique image examples.

The datasets originate largely from the community itself. In some cases data also originates from public domain repositories as well as from commercial image providers. We are also interested in hearing your thoughts on new datasets that will benefit the community. Contact us with your ideas and if our review team approves the project then we will work with you to add your data to the gateway.

Beyond datasets, HyPhoon will also soon include a marketplace for community members to access advanced algorithms, and sell user-created applications. Are you a scientist with an innovative new algorithm? Are you a developer who can help transform research code into user applications? Are you working in the application domain and have ideas for algorithms that would benefit your work? Are you looking to reach a larger audience and expand your impact on the community? If so, we encourage you to get involved in our community.

For more on HySpeed Computing:

The National Strategy for Earth Observation – Data management and societal benefits

White House OSTP

Office of Science and Technology Policy

Earlier this month the U.S. National Science and Technology Council released its report on the National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations. This is the first step towards building a National roadmap for the more efficient utilization and management of U.S. Earth observing resources.

Current U.S. capabilities in Earth observation, as summarized in the report, are distributed across more than 100 different programs, including those at both Federal agencies and various non-Federal organizations (e.g., state and local governments, academic institutions, and commercial companies). This extends far beyond just the well-known satellite programs operated by NASA and NOAA, encompassing a variety of other satellite and airborne missions being conducted around the country, as well as a host of other land- and water-based observing systems. From a National perspective this represents not just a complex array of programs and organizations to manage, but also an increasingly voluminous collection of data products and information to store and make available for use.

With an objective towards improving the overall management and utilization of the various Earth observing resources, the National Strategy outlines two primary organizational elements. The first element addresses a “policy framework” for prioritizing investments in observing systems that support specified “societal benefit areas,” and the second element speaks to the need for improved methods and policies for data management and information dissemination.

The National Strategy also lays the foundation for ultimately developing a National Plan for Civil Earth Observations, with initial publication targeted for fiscal year 2014 and subsequent versions to be repeated every three years thereafter. As indicated by its title, the National Plan will provide the practical details and fundamental information needed to implement the various Earth observing objectives. Additionally, by periodically revisiting and reassessing technologic capabilities and societal needs, the “approach of routine assessment, improved data management, and coordinated planning is designed to enable stable, continuous, and coordinated Earth-observation capabilities for the benefit of society.”

The overall motivation behind the National Strategy and National Plan is the recognized societal importance of Earth observation. Specifically, “Earth observations provide the indispensable foundation for meeting the Federal Government’s long-term sustainability objectives and advancing U.S. social, environmental, and economic well-being.” With that in mind, the National Strategy specifies twelve key “societal benefit areas”: agriculture and forestry, biodiversity, climate, disasters, ecosystems, energy and mineral resources, human health, ocean and coastal resources and ecosystems, space weather, transportation, water resources, weather, and reference measurements. Also deemed relevant are the various technology developments that span across all focus areas, such as advances in sensor systems, data processing, algorithm development, data discovery tools, and information portals.

The National Strategy additionally presents a comprehensive outline for a unified data management framework, which sets the fundamental “expectations and requirements for Federal agencies involved in the collection, processing, stewardship, and dissemination of Earth-observation data.” The framework addresses needs across the entire data life cycle, beginning with the planning stages of data collection, progressing through data organization and formatting standards, and extending to data accessibility and long-term data stewardship. Also included is the need to provide full and open data access to all interested users, as well as optimize interoperability, thereby facilitating the more efficient exchange of data and information products across the entire community.

With this National Strategy, the U.S. is defining a unified vision for integrating existing resources and directing future investments in Earth observation. We are looking forward to reading the upcoming National Plan, which is targeted for release later this year.

To access a copy of the National Strategy report, visit the Office of Science and Technology Policy:

Remote Sensing Data Access – A review of online resources for hyperspectral imagery

Hyperspectral CubeIn our previous post – Remote Sensing Data Archives – we explored some of the many general online data discovery tools for obtaining remote sensing imagery. We now sharpen our focus to the field of hyperspectral remote sensing, aka imaging spectrometry, and delve into resources for accessing this particularly versatile type of imagery.

Hyperspectral imaging emerged on the remote sensing scene in the 1980s, originating at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) with the development and deployment of the Airborne Imaging Spectrometer (AIS), followed soon thereafter by the Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS). Since then hyperspectral imaging has evolved into a robust remote sensing discipline, with satellite and airborne sensors contributing to numerous applications in Earth observation, and other similarly sophisticated sensors being used for missions to the moon and Mars.

The premise behind hyperspectral imaging is that these sensors measure numerous, relatively narrow, contiguous portions of the electromagnetic spectrum, thereby providing detailed spectral information on how electromagnetic energy is reflected (or emitted) from a surface. To give this some perspective and provide an example, this can equate to measuring the visible portion of the spectrum using 50 or more narrow bands as opposed to three broad bands (i.e., red, green and blue) that we typically see with cameras and our eyes. Because objects (plants, soil, water, buildings, roads, etc…) reflect light differently as a function of their composition and structure, this enhanced spectral resolution offers more information with which to identify and map features on the Earth’s surface.

For those interested in hyperspectral remote sensing, and curious to see what can be achieved using this type of data, let’s look at some of the archives that are available:

  • Hyperion – The Hyperion sensor (220 bands; 400-2500nm; 30m resolution) is located on NASA’s EO-1 satellite, and although deployed in 2000 as part of a one-year demonstration mission, the satellite and its onboard sensors have shown remarkable stamina, continuing to collect data today. Archive data from Hyperion are available through both Earth Explorer and GloVis, and new data can be requested through an online Data Acquisition Request (DAR).
  • HICO – The Hyperspectral Imager for Coastal Ocean sensor (128 bands; 350-1080nm; 90m resolution) was installed on the International Space Station (ISS) in 2009 and is uniquely configured for the acquisition of ‘dark’ targets, specifically coastal aquatic areas. The sensor was initially developed and sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, with continuing support now provided through NASA’s ISS Program. Archive data from HICO, as well as requests for new data, are available through the HICO website hosted by Oregon State University; however, interested users must first submit a short proposal to become part of the HICO user community.
  • CHRIS – The Compact High Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (18-62 bands; 410-1020nm; 17-34m resolution) is the main payload on ESA’s Proba-1 satellite, which was launched in 2001. As with the EO-1 satellite, Proba-1 was only intended to serve as a short-lived technology demonstrator, but has managed to continue collecting valuable science data for more than a decade. Data from CHRIS are available to registered users, obtained via submittal and acceptance of a project proposal, through ESA’s Third Party Missions portfolio on Earthnet Online.
  • AVIRIS – The Airborne Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (224 bands; 400-2500nm, 4-20m resolution) has been supporting hyperspectral projects for more than two decades, and can be credited as a true pioneer in the field. AVIRIS is most commonly flown onboard a Twin Otter turboprop or ER-2 jet, but has also been configured to operate from several other airborne platforms. Images from 2006-2011 are available through the AVIRIS Flight Data Locator, with plans to soon expand this archive to include additional imagery from 1992-2005 (currently available through request from JPL).
  • NEON – The National Ecological Observatory Network is a continental-scale network of 60 observation sites located across the United States, where a standardized set of field and airborne data are being collected to support ecological research. Remote sensing data are being acquired via the Airborne Observation Platform, which includes a high-resolution digital camera, waveform LiDAR, and imaging spectrometer. The NEON project is adapting an open data policy, but data acquisition and distribution tools are currently still in development. Thus, initial “prototype” data, which includes a sampling of hyperspectral imagery, are being made available through the NEON Prototype Data Sharing (PDS) system.
  • TERN – The Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network is an Australian equivalent of NEON, providing a distributed network of observation facilities, datasets, map products and analysis tools to support Australian ecosystem science. Within this larger project is the AusCover facility, which leads the remote sensing image acquisition and field validation efforts for TERN. Current hyperspectral datasets available through AusCover include both airborne data and a comprehensive collection of Hyperion imagery. Data are accessible through the TERN Data Discovery Portal and the AusCover Visualization Portal.

These aren’t the only hyperspectral instruments in operation. There are new instruments, such as the Next Generation AVIRIS (AVIRIS-NG), Hyperspectral Thermal Emission Spectrometer (HyTES) and Portable Remote Imaging Spectrometer (PRISM), which all recently conducted their first science missions in 2012. There are a growing number of hyperspectral programs and instruments operated by government agencies and universities, such as the NASA Ames Research Center and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory (CAO). There are various airborne sensors operated or produced by commercial organizations, such as the Galileo Group, SpecTIR, HyVista and ITRES. And there are also a number of new satellite-based sensors on the horizon, including HyspIRI (NASA), EnMAP (Germany), PRISMA (Italy) and HISUI (Japan).

It’s an exciting field, with substantial growth in both sensor technology and analysis methods continuing to emerge. As the data becomes more and more available, so too does the potential for more researchers to get involved and new applications to be developed.

Remote Sensing Data Archives – Getting your hands on all that imagery

Remote Sensing DataThere are now vast collections of remote sensing imagery available, much of it readily available for you to download, but it’s not always obvious where and how to access these archives. Below we explore some of the many publically available resources where users can search for and download remote sensing data for their own projects.

As you would expect, government agencies support some of the largest remote sensing data resources, most notably NASA in the U.S. and the ESA in Europe. These agencies provide robust web-clients that can be easily used to discover and download extensive collections of Earth observing data:

  • For NASA, the centralized go-to data repository can be found on the Earthdata website, which itself provides an integrated portal for accessing a wealth of information related to NASA’s Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). Within the Earthdata website you will find links to Reverb, the “Next Generation Earth Science Discovery Tool”, which allows users to search and explore more than 3200 different datasets distributed throughout NASA’s 12 EOSDIS Data Centers.
  • For the ESA, which represents an international consortium of more than 20 European Member States, Earth observing data is primarily hosted through Earthnet Online. This website offers users access to data from the full collection of different ESA Earth Observing Missions, Third Party Missions, ESA Campaigns, and GMES Space Component data.

For other entry points to U.S. data archives, you can also visit the USGS Global Visualization Viewer (GloVis) or USGS EarthExplorer (EarthExplorer) to access data from particular sets of sensors. Alternatively, one can directly visit the various EOSDIS Data Centers, which each provide their own unique data discovery tools, such as the NSDIC Data Search tool at the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSDIC) Distributed Active Archive Center (DAAC) and the Mercury tool at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) DAAC for Biogeochemical Dynamics. For projects with time dependency constraints, such as natural disaster monitoring, there is also the option to download near real-time data from certain sensors using the Land Atmosphere Near Real-Time Capability for EOS (LANCE) tool. And for data from NOAA’s archives, the Office of Satellite and Product Operations (OSPO) provides links to a number of different data discovery tools, including NOAA’s Comprehensive Large Array-Data Stewardship System (CLASS). In the end, there is usually more than one way to reach the same data; it’s really a question of what tools you find easiest to use and which are most relevant to your intended application.

Searchable archives are also similarly available amongst various space agencies in other countries. For example, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) hosts the Earth Observation Research Center (EORC) Data Distribution Service (DDC), and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) offers Bhuvan, the geoportal for the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) Open EO Data Archive (NOEDA).

And there are also commercial archives, such as the DigitalGlobe ImageFinder, which include high resolution satellite and aerial imagery from around the globe. While images from these archives do have a price tag, given the high spatial resolution and global coverage, such imagery can be an excellent resource for many different applications.

The above compilation is but a subset of what is ultimately available for users to access. The full extent of imagery that can be obtained, particularly when considering the many secondary data resources available from individual entities and researchers, is truly astounding. Additionally, as more and more Earth observing satellites are launched, and as airborne imagery becomes more cost efficient and easier to collect, the scope and number of both government and commercial archives will continue to expand.

What will remain a challenge is for these archives to maintain robust data discovery tools that can be used access the growing volume of data, that can adapt to new sensors and new image formats, and that can integrate data across different archives. As evident above, great progress has been made in this domain, and developers continue to explore and implement new tools for managing this valuable global resource.

So get out there and put these data discovery tools to work for your project.

Space Apps and You – Check out the official list of this year’s challenges

Space Apps ChallengeIn preparation for next month’s 48-hour global codeathon taking place April 20-21, the Space Apps team has now released their official list of challenges, with more than 50 opportunities in which you can participate:

If you’re not already familiar with the Space Apps Challenge, it’s an amazing opportunity to work together with collaborators around the world to “solve current challenges relevant to both space exploration and social need.” For more information, please refer to our previous Space Apps post and visit the official website:

General categories for this year’s codeathon include software, hardware, citizen science, and data visualization. And they’re not just all about space… check out the challenges for “Backyard Poultry Farmer”, “Lego Rovers”, “OpenROV”, “Off the Grid”, “In the Sky with Diamonds” and “Renewable Energy Explorer.” There’s something for everyone.

While we think all of the proposed challenges are exciting, we here at HySpeed Computing have a particular interest in geospatial technologies and would therefore like to highlight some specific challenges speaking directly to the areas of remote sensing and earth observation:

  • Earth Day Challenge – “How can space data help us here on Earth? April 22 is Earth Day. Create a visualization of how pollution levels have changed over time.  Many pollution problems have been vastly improved, such as water pollution in the Great Lakes, and air pollution in Los Angeles. But others have significantly worsened, like CO2 emissions and ozone depletion.”
  • The Blue Marble – “Create an app, platform or website that consolidates a collection of space imagery and makes it more accessible to more people.”
  • EarthTiles – “Take global imagery data from Landsat, EOS, Terra, and other missions and turn them in to imagery tiles that can be used in an open source street map. This would enable incredible amounts of visualization and contextual data narration to occur, especially if such tiles were able to be updated on a regular basis as new data is released.”
  • Seeing Water From Space – “Create a web map of Chile water resources, showing how they have changed over time and how their changes over time relate to changes in climate.”
  • Earth From Space – “Using images taken by middle school students through the ISS EarthKAM program, create an educational application that allows users to overlay EarthKAM images on a 3D model of earth, annotate and comment on the images, and share their work via social media. This application can be web based or designed as a mobile application for an Android device.”

We’re excited to see what you can accomplish using Earth imagery. So look for an in-person event near you, or participate virtually from your own location. Good luck and happy coding!

Get Your Code On – The NASA International Space Apps Challenge is coming

Space Apps ChallengeGet ready to flex your fingers and exercise your brain. Next month from April 20-21 NASA is hosting the International Space Apps Challenge – a 48-hour global hackathon. Everyone and anyone is welcome to attend.

The International Space Apps Challenge is a 2 day technology development event during which citizens from around the world will work together to solve current challenges relevant to both space exploration and social need.”

There are currently over 75 cities around the world hosting in-person events, including one extraordinary location orbiting the Earth onboard the International Space Station. These in-person events, which are independently organized by local volunteers, provide the opportunity to interact and collaborate with fellow participants. However, if there’s not a venue near you, or you think best when you’re in your own environment, you can also contribute to the event virtually from your own location, perhaps even gathering a group of friends to create your own mini-event. To participate, either in-person or virtually, simply visit the Space Apps website – – and register.

You don’t have to be a ‘space’ professional to contribute, nor do you need to be an expert programmer. The objective of the event is to bring together a diverse group of people with a varied range of skills and backgrounds that have “a passion for changing the world and are willing to contribute.” Last year’s event, which numbered more than 2000 participants, received contributions from an assorted array of scientists, engineers, artists, writers, entrepreneurs and many more. All that’s required is a spirit of innovation.

Participants in the App Challenge are encouraged to work as teams, but can also work alone, to “solve challenges relevant to improving life on Earth and life in space.” Top solutions from each location will be entered in the global competition, where winners will be awarded prizes and recognition for their achievements. A list of suggested challenges will be posted on the event website in the near future. In the meantime, current suggestions for this year’s event include:

  • “Help tell the ‘why’ of space exploration through the creation of compelling narratives and visualizations of the stories and data from NASA’s history.”
  • “Design a CubeSat (or constellation of CubeSats) that can utilize extra space onboard future robotic Mars missions to help us understand more about the Red Planet.”
  • “Help revitalize antiquated data by creating open source tools to transform, display, and visualize data.”

But this is just a small sample of the challenges yet to come. Perhaps you also have your own ideas and would like to develop your own unique contribution. This too is welcomed. And you can even get started in advance (but the bulk of the work should be completed the weekend of the event) so that you have a head start and hit the ground running.

So grab your favorite laptop, tablet, or other device and get comfortable. It’s time to code. Good luck everyone!

For more on the NASA Space Apps Challenge:  

Accessing The Oceans – See how Marinexplore is connecting users with a world of data

Are you working on an oceanographic or marine related project where you need to identify and access the many data resources available for your study area? Marinexplore is now making this process easier than ever.

As with many fields of research, the realm of ocean science includes a staggering volume of data that has already been collected, and continues to be collected, by different organizations and government entities around the world. While there is a general movement throughout science towards improved data availability, greater standardization of data formats, and increased adoption of data interoperability standards, efficiently searching and accessing all of this data can still be a cumbersome task.



To address this challenge, Marinexplore has created a centralized resource for the ocean science community to quickly access multiple data sources from a single framework. Using an interface built on top of Google Maps, users can easily search from amongst the many available data collections, select relevant data for a particular project, and download the resulting dataset in a single file. Not only does this cut down on search time, it also simplifies a number of data integration and preprocessing steps. Users can also save, store and share created datasets, as well as collaborate with other users.

So how does it work? Marinexplore currently has access to more than 1.2 billion in situ measurements. This predominantly includes publically available data that has been acquired from ocean instruments, such as buoys, drifters, fixed platforms, and ships, as well as products generated from satellite sensors. Data access is a free service, but users must first register with Marinexplore to set up an account. Users can then create up to three datasets per day, where the size is initially limited to no more than 5 million measurements per dataset, but with options to significantly expand this limit to 25 million measurements per dataset (and beyond) by referring other users.

Marinexplore reportedly also has plans to expand functionality of its system, such as providing an API (Application Programming Interface) for developing specialized applications, functionality for data streaming, and the ability to run oceanographic models. But these features have yet to be added. For now Marinexplore is focused on establishing a user community and delivering data to interested users.

So go check out the data, and see what’s available for you to use on your next project.

For more information on Marinexplore:

Data Management and You – A broader look at research data requirements

This is Part 2 of a discussion series on data management requirements for government funded research.

As discussed in the previous installment of this series, data management has become an integral requirement of government funded research projects. Not only are there considerations related to the fact that the research was supported using taxpayer funding, and hence the data should be made available to the public, but data sharing also helps expand the impact and influence of your own research.

Part 1 of this series focused on the data management requirements of the National Science Foundation (NSF). In Part 2 below we look at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Australian Research Council (ARC), and the Research Councils United Kingdom (RCUK).

NASAAs with the NSF proposal process, NASA requires a data-sharing plan to be incorporated as part of any proposal response. Specifically, as described in the NASA Guidebook for Proposers, the “Proposer shall provide a data-sharing plan and shall provide evidence (if any) of any past data-sharing practices.” Unlike NSF, which requires a separate two-page plan, the NASA data-sharing plan must be incorporated within the main body of the proposal as part of the Scientific-Technical-Management section. Additionally, as something important to keep in mind, NASA also specifies that “all data taken through research programs sponsored by NASA are considered public”, “NASA no longer recognizes a ‘proprietary’ period for exclusive use of any new scientific data”, and that “all data collected through any of its funded programs are to be placed in the public domain at the earliest possible time following their validation and calibration.” This means no more holding data in reserve until such time as a researcher has completed their work and published their results. Instead, NASA is taking a strong stand on making its data publically available as soon as possible.

RCUKLooking now to the United Kingdom, the RCUK explicitly defines data sharing as a core aspect of its overall mission and responsibility as a government organization. As part of its Common Principles on Data Policy, RCUK states that “publically funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner.” To achieve this objective, the individual Research Councils that comprise the RCUK each incorporate their own specific research requirements that conform to this policy. For example, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) specifies in its Grants and Fellowships Handbook that each proposal must include a one-page Outline Data Management Plan. If funded, researchers will then work with the NERC Environmental Data Centres to devise a final Data Management Plan. And at the conclusion of the project, researchers will coordinate with the Data Centres to transfer their data and make it available for others to use.

ARCThe Australian Research Council also encourages data sharing as an important component to funded research projects. While the ARC does not specify the need for data management plans in its proposals, the policies listed in the ARC Funding Rules explicitly encourage “depositing data and any publications arising from a research project in an appropriate subject and/or institutional repository.” Additionally, as part of the final reporting requirements for most ARC awards, the researcher must specify “how data arising from the project have been made publically accessible where appropriate.” It is also common amongst the various funding opportunities to include a discussion in the required Project Description on strategies to communicate research outcomes. While not explicitly stated, data sharing can certainly play an important role in meeting such needs to disseminate and promote research achievements.

Government agencies clearly recognize the importance of data, and are making it a priority in their research and proposal requirements. So don’t forget to include data management as part of your next proposal planning process.