Developing a geoscience knowledge framework for a national geological survey organisation

Andrew S. Howard, Bill Hatton, Femke Reitsma, Ken I.G. Lawrie
2009 Computers & Geosciences  
Geological survey organisations (GSOs) are established by most nations to provide a geoscience knowledge base for effective decision-making on mitigating the impacts of natural hazards and global change, and on sustainable management of natural resources. The value of the knowledge base as a national asset is continually enhanced by exchange of knowledge between GSOs as data and information providers and the stakeholder community as knowledge 'users and exploiters'. Geological maps and
more » ... d narrative texts typically form the core of national geoscience knowledge bases, but have some inherent limitations as methods of capturing and articulating knowledge. Much knowledge about the 3D spatial interpretation and its derivation and uncertainty, and the wider contextual value of the knowledge, remains intangible in the minds of the mapping geologist in implicit and tacit form. To realise the value of these knowledge assets, the British Geological Survey (BGS) has established a workflow-based cyber-infrastructure to enhance its knowledge management and exchange capability. Future geoscience surveys in the BGS will contribute to a national, 3D digital knowledge base on UK geology, with the associated implicit and tacit information captured as metadata, qualitative assessments of uncertainty, and documented workflows and best practice. Knowledge-based decision-making at all levels of society requires both the accessibility and reliability of knowledge to be enhanced in the grid-based world. Establishment of collaborative cyber-infrastructures and ontologies for geoscience knowledge management and exchange will ensure that GSOs, as knowledge-based organisations, can make their contribution to this wider goal. Keywords Geological mapping, 3D models, knowledge management, cyber-infrastructure, ontology 1. Introduction 1.1 National Geological Surveys as knowledge-based organisations Geological survey organisations (GSOs), including the British Geological Survey (BGS), are established by most nations to provide a geoscience knowledge base that enables effective decision-making on mitigating the impacts of natural hazards and global environmental change, and on sustainable management of mineral, energy, water and land resources. The knowledge base held by GSOs typically comprises a range of data and information gathered by strategic geoscientific survey programmes, and may also include datasets obtained from (or held on behalf of) industry, government and the academic community. The knowledge base may be held by a single, national GSO or, in some countries, may be distributed among several regionally-based agencies that, together with an 'umbrella' federal agency, collectively provide the national GSO function. While GSOs usually have responsibility for managing the knowledge base and making it widely accessible, knowledge of the context, application and relevance of that data and information extends way beyond the boundaries of the GSOs to a broad community of users and stakeholders in education, research, industry and government. The value of the knowledge base as a national asset is continually enhanced by exchange of knowledge between GSOs as data and information providers and the stakeholder community as knowledge 'users and exploiters'. Consultancy work, information and advisory services, outreach programmes and collaborative research projects are highly effective methods of knowledge exchange, and are carried out by many GSOs as part of their remit. Such GSOs are therefore 'knowledge based' organisations that not only acquire and manage geo-environmental data and information, but also understand its context, application, value and limitations and can communicate these to users and stakeholders. Effective knowledge management -the creation and subsequent management of an environment that encourages knowledge to be created, shared, learned, enhanced, organized and utilized for the benefit of the organisation and its customers -is therefore essential in GSOs to enable them to fulfil their national capability role. This paper presents a case study of how the BGS has implemented a workflow-based cyber-infrastructure to
doi:10.1016/j.cageo.2008.06.004 fatcat:xysnd6pgp5e5lj3fna6hxbmhj4