Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) Columbia University
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CIESIN has four divisions that reflect the organization's focus in the areas of Internet-based data and information management, spatial data integration and training, and interdisciplinary research related to human interactions in the environment. Respectively, these branches are: Geospatial Applications, Information Services, Information Technology, and Science Applications. Each division has professionally trained staff who bring together distinct sets of capabilities.

Geospatial Applications
The Geospatial Applications Division seeks to advance the role of geospatial technologies in the support of integrated studies of human/environment interactions. It provides a geospatial technology knowledge base to support CIESIN’s research agenda and general operations, working closely with all other divisions at CIESIN in the creation and distribution of CIESIN’s spatial data products and services. The Division has a special focus on the development and maintenance of Web-based mapping applications; building global- and regional-scale spatial data products; and assisting the Science Applications Division with spatial analysis and data visualization. It also provides geospatial education programs to the academic, non-profit, and governmental community.

Staff from the Geospatial Applications Division have working relationships and/or serve as committee members for a number of national and international geospatial organizations including:

Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)
Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI)
National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC)
Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC)
United Nations Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG)
U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)

Information Services

The Information Services Division supports users in finding, accessing, and using data and information related to human dimensions of global environmental change. Accordingly, the work of this division encompasses the full range of data center activities providing end-to-end data, information, and content management. Functional areas of proficiency include digital archiving, metadata systems, customer relations management, including usability and outreach. Digital archiving addresses the array of challenges associated with preserving data and information stored on digital media. Metadata simply means "data about data." Metadata addresses the descriptive and other types of information that facilitate the management, finding and use of data and information products.

Information Services staff have expertise in data warehousing, digital archiving, metadata standards, metadata systems, statistics, relational database technology, knowledge management, library and information science, earth science, and social science. Areas of research and development include digital reference service development, web usage metrics, Data Documentation Initiative (DDI), metadata standards, and data integration, and usability.

Information Technology

The Information Technology Division implements and supports the computing infrastructure at CIESIN. It is organized into three groups: Media Design, Software Engineering, and Systems Operations. The Media Design group provides skills in the areas of graphic/Web design and multimedia authoring. The Software Engineering group plans, designs, and implements databases, interactive applications, data processing facilities, and analytical processing, and supports such products over their lifetime. The Systems Operations group implements the server, workstation, and networking infrastructure that supports CIESIN's computing activities, with special attention given to computer security.

The IT Division is engaged in the following technologies:

  • Object-oriented software engineering
  • Client-server and distributed computing
  • Information retrieval, Z39.50
  • C++, C
  • Java, Javascript, JSP
  • Perl, SQL, PL/SQL
  • Visual Basic
  • Photoshop
  • Dreamweaver, Fireworks, GoLive!, Flash
  • Ventura, Quark, Acrobat
  • Spatial Database Engine
  • GIS
  • Oracle8i
  • InterMedia, Powerbuilder
  • Image Processing
  • Data modeling
  • UNIX systems administration and security
  • Database administration and security
  • Windows 2k, NT, 98, 95 Administration and security
  • MS-office automation
  • RAID Systems
  • Networking and internetworking
  • OpenGIS
  • Collaborative systems
  • Logic programming
  • Data visualization

Science Applications

The Science Applications Division is responsible for development of CIESIN's science data products in coordination with the divisions of Geospatial Applications, Information Services, and Information Technology, for carrying out research projects concerning human interactions in the environment, for organizing interdisciplinary workshops, and for undergraduate and graduate teaching.

Science Applications staff identify priority data and information product needs that will further the human dimensions of global environmental change research agenda. This often means identifying those data which currently exist or could be produced with relatively little effort that can help to shed light on the interactions between human and environmental systems, or producing integrated data sets from Earth and social science domains. In consultation with the scientific and user communities, Science Applications staff develop new interactive data products as well as project activities.

Science Applications Division staff come from a range of disciplines including:

  • Atmospheric science
  • Demography
  • Ecology
  • Forestry
  • Natural resource management
  • Geography
  • Political science
  • Public health and epidemiology
  • Urban and regional planning

and possess skills in:

  • Geographic information systems
  • Remote sensing
  • Statistics
  • Quantitative analysis.

Science Applications staff are also involved in research in the following areas:

  • Climate-health studies
  • Ecosystem health
  • Disturbance ecology
  • Environment and health
  • Environment and security
  • Gridding of demographic and socioeconomic data
  • Human impacts on biodiversity
  • Integrated assessment tools and methodologies
  • Remote sensing applications for multilateral environmental agreements
  • Sustainability indicators
  • Vulnerability assessment.

This page last modified: Jun 08, 2007