InfoMAP is the UN Environmental Programme Mediterranean knowledge platform conceived to provide and share data, information services and knowledge for the benefit of the Mediterranean Action Plan components and Contracting Parties in their work for the implementation of the Barcelona Convention, its Protocols, MAP strategies and policies, including the Mediterranean Strategy on Sustainable Development (MSSD).
From this purpose InfoMAP is, at the same time:
- The I&CT infrastructure to serve MAP key clients, i.e. MAP Components and MEDU, MAP Contracting Parties, and to communicate and diffuse information and knowledge on MAP themes
- the network of partners with different roles on infoMAP nodes;
- the process to define and implement common technical rules, data and I&CT standards to share data and services within MAP context and with the external context;
- the shared repository of data, information and knowledge produced by MAP activities;
- the hub to connect MAP world to other networks (i.e. UNEP, GMES, GEO/GEOSS, Eionet, etc.).
According to the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) principles, InfoMAP is a matter of:
- Governance, i.e. reporting obligations, strategies, plans and programmes, networks of MAP components and Country, relevant Institutions and networks beyond the MAP, relevant communities,…
- Infrastructure, i.e. Information and Communication Technologies to frame and implement components according to SEIS
- Content, i.e. data/metadata, data services, communication products and services
Goal and objectives
The InfoMAP overall goal is to improve governance for knowledge sharing and participation inside MAP, and to support cooperation and data sharing/interoperability between InfoMAP and other networks or regional nodes.
According to the Info/RAC mandate, the InfoMAP objectives can be then inferred as follows:
- Streamline dataflows related to MAP environmental policy and legislation,
- Provide easily accessible information and knowledge on MAP themes to both policy-makers and citizens, through appropriate Data Policy implementation
- Support cooperation/sharing of information/data interoperability between infoMAP and other networks or regional nodes
- Decision support system for real time /emergency management
- Support to megatrends analysis and actions, including climate change, biodiversity and ecosystems.
The system would also support MAP with data and elaborations to analyse environmental issues and to provide sound scientific and technical knowledge as a basis for actions in these fields. In addition, future developments could also consider to provide decision support in emergency management.
In light of the above objectives, InfoMAP system will be developed to offer mainly:
- Data Centre functions on MAP themes both for public and for authorised users;
- Shared services to network and facilitate collaboration among MAP Components;
- Interoperability within InfoMAP nodes and with external networks and systems.
The development of a Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) needs a series of guiding principles, that can be summarized as follows:
- information should be managed as close as possible to its source;
- information is provided once and shared with others for many purposes;
- data and information should be readily accessible to end-users to enable them to access it timely and readily available to public authorities for reporting obligations;
- information should be made available to the public after due consideration of the appropriate level of aggregation, given possible confidentiality constraints, and at national level in the national language(s).
The application of the above principles to InfoMAP development implies that:
- InfoMAP shall be built as a distributed system based on distributed data nodes; data services should be able to access and process data from different nodes.
- Data interoperability is to be provided, through use of common standards and having data harmonization as a prerequisite.
- Streamline reporting is needed, to minimize duplication and countries burden, and enable crosscutting use of reported data independent of the data flow.
- A Data Policy is needed to allow easy and timely access to information (and adequate ICT tools to support it). Access to data should be “full and open” (GEOSS) at the greater extent possible.
The data policy
The application of SEIS principles requires the adoption and implementation of a common and shared Data policy for InfoMAP.
A draft Data Policy document, concerning data managed in Medpol databases, has been already drafted and circulated among the CPs. It claims for specific authorization each time data are to be accessed, mainly because Medpol database on pollution stores very disaggregated monitoring data, at level of single sample.
In the GEO-VII Plenary of 3-4 November 2010, the GEOSS Data Sharing Action Plan for the Implementation of the GEOSS Data Sharing Principles has been ratified by participating Countries, including all MAP Contracting Parties (with the exception of Libya and Albania).
It is clear that adequate provisions must be made to balance these very different approaches to formulate the overall Data policy for InfoMAP.
In general, InfoMAP services and modules are being designed to be accessible with 2 different users profiles: public users and authorised users.
Access, view and download of data in InfoMAP will be subjected to MAP Data Policy rules, but a minimum set of information (metadata), describing at least the source of data should be always available, as well as a contact point.
A document for InfoMAP common and shared Data Policy and guidelines for its implementation will be presented in draft to NFP in the next meeting, and finalised at the next meeting of the Contracting Parties (COP17).
Following the discussion at the joint FPs’ meeting in Nice, a draft decisions will be prepared on data sharing policy, including the application of SEIS principles where appropriate, for submission to the coming MAP Focal Points meeting and the Conference of Parties.