Environmental information has been defined as “…the process that transfers data and information
from its source to users in any field of knowledge or activity applicable to environmental problem
solving.” Yet, like so many other types of information, environmental information is overburdened by
a glut of data and a dearth of mechanisms with which to transmit high quality information from
supplier to user.
The United States should develop a National Environmental
Information Infrastructure (NEII) that crosses scientific
domains (i.e., applied, physical, information, natural and social
sciences, engineering), sectors of the economy (i.e., private,
academic, government), and lines of work (i.e., research,
education, advocacy, communication, information).
1. National Environmental Information Infrastructure
The NEII should be an open architecture for network development,
with appropriate computer power [data, information,
and knowledge management], and user interface.
2. Ensure Data
The federal government and its partners should work to
ensure data (information) availability, quality, and preservation
through this architecture.
3. Tool Development
The federal government should promote the development of
tools to make information available to a multiplicity of users
at varying geospatial scales and time frames.
4. Data Evaluation
Creation of the NEII should begin with a comprehensive
analysis to evaluate the many data and information repositories
and data support systems at global/international, national/federal,
state/provincial, and local levels. They should be evaluated
in regard to:
- acquisition of data (and information)
- management of data
- integration and analyses of data
- dissemination of data
- examination of cross-cutting issues to examine organizational
roles of data producers, providers, and users.
5. Multi-Stakeholder Advisory Board
There should be a multi-stakeholder advisory board (e.g., data
producers/providers, data/information managers, data/database
vendors/providers, librarians and other information providers,
and various user communities) to examine the creation of a
central, comprehensive environmental information infrastructure
- coordinate efforts across scientific domains, industries, and
- provide access to and communication of data and information
for multiple categories of end users
- promote the use of environmental indicators and methods of
advanced environmental accounting
- emphasize the need for a U.S. commitment to support environmental
data and information systems and management
- identify environmental decision areas that currently lack
robust supporting data and information resources
- examine educational opportunities and training in scientific,
policy, and information technology (including librarians)
- examine policies for discussion of publication, dissemination,
and “digestion” of data and information
- identify and network among repositories of human and
organizational expertise and resources.
Completion of these tasks would serve to:
- define an environmental information infrastructure that is
timely, adequate, and comprehensive
- address the need to develop services, products,and programs
that are efficient, economic, and equitable.