The USGS held the first meeting of their newly created Council on Data Integration in Denver this past week and I presented an overview of the Geoscience Information Network we are building on behalf of the state geo surveys, USGS, DOE, and others.
What I saw was a strong dynamic across all four disciplines in the USGS (geology, geography, water, and biology) towards systemic data integration. The Secretary of Interior's announcement last Monday of a department wide climate initiative, with USGS as the science drivers, is going to push data integration even further and faster.
Some USGS programs are converting to the GIN concept already - web-based, distributed, open-source, and interoperable. Others were looking for just such a vehicle. As with state surveys, academia, and everyone else, many of the biggest challenges are cultural and not technnological.
The USGS has been developing a vision for data integration as a cornerstone of their science strategy for the past few years. It looks to me like they have a dynamic plan coming together with buy-in from across the country and across the disciplines. Co-organizers Linda Gundersen, Chief Scientist for Geology (and co-chair with me on the GIN Steering Committee) and Kevin Gallagher, Geographic Information Officer for USGS, did an amazing job in pulling together influential leaders and key participants from across USGS's 10,000 employees to develop a strategy and course that appears to be transformational.