On January 10, 2012 the Unidata Policy Committee unanimously approved the following resolution:
Be it resolved that the Polcomm adopts the final version of the Strategic Plan, "Unidata 2020: Geoscience at the Speed of Thought" December 28, 2011.
Unidata's latest strategic plan outlines some of the broad issues faced by community members in their conduct of data-centered Earth System science, and lays out a flexible blueprint for action for the Unidata Program Center staff. The new plan was developed over several months in 2011 through meetings between Program Center staff and members of the Users and Policy committees. The following paragraphs, from the section titled "Our Vision for the Future," capture the core problem of ever expanding data volumes and "data friction," along with our approach to providing solutions:
Unidata and its community operate in an environment of rapid technological change and evolving scientific priorities. Sources of geoscience data are multiplying and data volumes are expanding, straining traditional data management techniques. Where in Unidata's early days our community was primarily concerned with university access to specific, well-defined weather-related data sets, today's Earth System scientists want the ability to expediently access and integrate any multidisciplinary data set — anywhere, at any time — that advances their scientific or educational goals.
Researchers and educators are looking to Unidata for help with all aspects of the scientific data lifecycle, from locating useful data to retrieving full or partial datasets, through the process of visualizing data locally or remotely, to managing and sharing their results. Working together with our community, we hope to create an environment in which scientists expend less effort locating, acquiring, and processing data and more time interpreting their data. Unidata envisions sustaining and enhancing a community that capitalizes on new technology and concepts to advance the understanding of the complexities of the Earth System and provide community leadership in advancing research and education in the geosciences.
The goal of enabling "Geoscience at the Speed of Thought" reflects the Unidata community's desire — and the Unidata Program Center staff's hope — to reduce the burden of acquiring and appropriately formatting geoscience data, leaving researchers and teachers more time and resources for analysis, interpretation, and education.
"The vision and goals outlined in Unidata's plan are congruent with the National Science Foundation's strategic plans," adds Unidata Program Center Director Mohan Ramamurthy. "We also feel they align well with the overarching goals of NSF's EarthCube initiative."
You can read the strategic plan in its entirety here. The Program Center staff is currently working to translate the goals set forth in the strategic plan into specific projects and actions.