Data Democracy and Decision Making: Enhancing the Use and Value of Geospatial Data and Scientific Information

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 1:40 PM
Carl D Shapiro, USGS Headquarters, Reston, VA, United States
Data democracy is a concept that has great relevance to the use and value of geospatial data and scientific information. Data democracy describes a world in which data and information are widely and broadly accessible, understandable, and useable. The concept operationalizes the public good nature of scientific information and provides a framework for increasing benefits from its use.

Data democracy encompasses efforts to increase accessibility to geospatial data and to expand participation in its collection, analysis, and application. These two pillars are analogous to demand and supply relationships. Improved accessibility, or demand, includes increased knowledge about geospatial data and low barriers to retrieval and use. Expanded participation, or supply, encompasses a broader community involved in developing geospatial data and scientific information. This pillar of data democracy is characterized by methods such as citizen science or crowd sourcing.

A framework is developed for advancing the use of data democracy. This includes efforts to assess the societal benefits (economic and social) of scientific information. This knowledge is critical to continued monitoring of the effectiveness of data democracy implementation and of potential impact on the use and value of scientific information.

The framework also includes an assessment of opportunities for advancing data democracy both on the supply and demand sides. These opportunities include relatively inexpensive efforts to reduce barriers to use as well as the identification of situations in which participation can be expanded in scientific efforts to enhance the breadth of involvement as well as expanding participation to non-traditional communities.

This framework provides an initial perspective on ways to expand the “scientific community” of data users and providers. It also describes a way forward for enhancing the societal benefits from geospatial data and scientific information. As a result, data democracy not only provides benefits to a greater population, it enhances the value of science.