Funding agency: 
National Science Foundation

NSF’s Division of Earth Science (EAR) is committed to supporting efforts to preserve and share research products in accordance with NSF and EAR data policies, and to enable the findability and accessibility of these research products for research transparency and future reuse. To advance the frontiers of Earth Science research, geoscientists and others need tools to discover, manage, analyze, integrate, and reuse data on all aspects of the Earth system. Cyberinfrastructure for easy access to high-quality data, visualization tools, and modeling and analysis codes help scientists and educators maximize the value of Earth science data and to generate transparent and reproducible research outcomes.

This solicitation supports efforts to develop data resources, software tools, and computational infrastructure needed to facilitate studies of the structure, dynamics, and evolution of the Earth through time, as well as the processes that act upon and within the Earth from the surface to the core. Successful projects will develop community cyberinfrastructure to advance research and education goals in Earth Science. To serve geoinformatics projects at all stages of cyberinfrastructure development, the Geoinformatics solicitation includes multiple tracks for piloting, broadening, and sustaining cyberinfrastructure resources that serve Earth Science.

The tracks in the Geoinformatics Program are designed to support the lifecycle of typical cyberinfrastructure development in three distinct phases. The development phase is supported in the Catalytic Track; the implementation and operation phase is supported in the Facility Track; and the preservation and sustainability phase is supported in the Sustainability Track. These three tracks are defined in the Program Description below.

This Geoinformatics Program Solicitation comprises three tracks with complementary focuses. None of these tracks will support hardware development or major hardware purchases.

  • The Catalytic Track will focus on up to 3-year pilot geoinformatics development efforts that are intended to serve Earth Sciences research. This could be achieved through development of new community platforms (databases or modeling resources) or tools to be used by the research community, not a specific research group.
  • The Facility Track will focus on implementation and operation of a CI resource relied upon by one or more Earth Science communities to address science questions. This may be achieved through operation of a community platform for Earth Sciences data analysis, visualization, and curation and/or shared community software and must include associated training, outreach, and engagement efforts. Projects are intended to be 3-5 years in duration per award. Facilities Track projects may be supported by the Geoinformatics program for no more than 10 years.
  • The Sustainability Track will focus on development and implementation of sustainable funding models to preserve data and software products of value to Earth Science research. This may be achieved in a variety of ways, including, but not limited to, implementing a new sustainable operating plan for an existing resource, a federation of resources, or a merger into an institutional or other long-term resource. Projects in this track will demonstrate a reduction in NSF support over time. The emphasis is on preservation of valuable data and software products rather than on continuation of CI platforms or project teams themselves. These awards are intended to be up to 3 years in duration.

Essential elements

Competitive Geoinformatics proposals will include the following five key elements:

  • Modern cyberinfrastructure. Adopt open data standards and open source codes, with a particular focus on improving user function for Facility track proposals.
  • Engagement metrics. Describe clear plans for engagement of diverse communities and description of the community(ies) served, including size, expected science, and engagement throughout the project.
  • Science motivation. Justify and demonstrate science questions that could be addressed through the project (including existing outcomes that resulted from past developments).
  • Sustainability plan. Describe plans for sustaining project outcomes beyond completion of the award (e.g., through establishing partnerships with existing institutions/facilities). Sustainability proposals should also highlight specific components (data, software, tools) to be sustained, describe, sustainable funding models to support these components into the future and include Letters of Collaboration by the institutions/partners engaged for the plan.
  • Management plan. This should include plans for project management, governance (science /community oversight), and scalability to adapt to expanding user capacity. The scope of the management plan should be in proportion to the planned size of the award.

In addition to these essential elements, PIs are encouraged to involve computational scientists and/or industry partners, as appropriate, as co-PIs, collaborators, and/or consultants.

To better understand present NSF investments in geoinformatics, it is recommended that proponents contact the Program Officer listed in this solicitation. It is also strongly recommended that proponents discuss their idea(s) with Program Officers in the Division of Earth Sciences program(s) most closely affiliated with the proposed activity so synergies with already funded projects can be identified and so the merit review process can be coordinated.

August 15, 2019
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