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Data Inventory Draft Technical Report


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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations




PAIA-REHAB Output 01
2003-05-15

PAIA-REHAB Output 01: FAO Emergency Database

Data Inventory - Draft Technical Report

Priority Areas for Interdisciplinary Action

PAIA-REHAB



Table of Contents

Executive Summary 4

1 Role of the Database and the Data Issue 6

1.1 The system 6

1.2 The data 7

2 Operational Approach 8

3 Issues Regarding the Accessibility of FAO Databases 10

4 Data inventory 11

4.1 Data Produced and/or Distributed by FAO 11

4.1.1 Africa Real Time Environmental Monitoring System (ARTEMIS) - SDR 11

4.1.2 AfriCover - SDRN 11

4.1.3 AQUASTAT - AGL 12

4.1.4 Digital Soil Map of the World and Derived Soil Properties - AGL 12

4.1.5 Domestic Animal Diversity Information System (DAD-IS) - AGA 12

4.1.6 ECOCROP 1 - AGL 12

4.1.7 Emergency Database - TC 12

4.1.8 Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) - AGA 13

4.1.9 FAO Procurement Services database in Oracle - AFSP 13

4.1.10 FAOCLIM 2 - SDRN 13

4.1.11 FAOSTAT - ESSA 13

4.1.12 FAOSTAT 2 - ESSA 14

4.1.13 Fertilizer Database - AGL 14

4.1.14 Field Programme Management Information System (FPMIS) - TC 14

4.1.15 FISHSTAT+ - FIDI 15

4.1.16 GeoNetwork - SDR 15

4.1.17 Global Agro-Ecological Zoning (AEZ) - AGL 15

4.1.18 Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) - ESA 15

4.1.19 Global Land Use Database - AGL 16

4.1.20 Global Livestock Production and Health Atlas (GLiPHA) - AGA 17

4.1.21 GLOBEFISH - FIIU 17

4.1.22 Irrigation Equipment System (IES) - AGL 17

4.1.23 Livestock Distribution Database - AGA 17

4.1.24 TERRASTAT – AGL/SDR 18

4.1.25 Vector Map Level 0 (VMap0) - SDR 18

4.1.26 World Information and Early Warning System (WIEWS) - AGPS 18

4.1.27 World Overview of Conservation Approaches and Technologies (WOCAT) - AGL 19



4.2 Data Produced and/or Distributed by Other Organizations 19

4.2.1 United Nations Population Division 19

4.2.2 World Health Organization (WHO) 19

4.2.3 Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) 20

4.2.4 Joint Research Centre (JRC) 20

4.2.5 U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Earth Resources Observation System (EROS) 21

4.2.6 Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) Global Population Project 23

5 Brainstorming Session with TCE Officers 23

6 Preliminary Proposed Modules for the EIS 24

6.1 Disaster impact and Needs Assessment: a Country Report Module 25

6.1.1 Functionalities 25

6.1.2 Data Inputs 25

6.1.3 General Structure 26



6.2 Planning of operations: NGOs Module 26

6.2.1 Functionalities 26

6.2.2 Data Inputs 26

6.2.3 General Structure 27



6.3 Planning of operations: Procured Items Module 27

6.3.1 Functionalities 28

6.3.2 Data Inputs 28

6.3.3 General Structure 28



6.4 Planning of operations: Seed Distribution Module 29

6.4.1 Functionalities 29

6.4.2 Data Inputs 29

6.4.3 General Structure 30



7 List of People Met 30

Annex A: Terms of Reference 33

Annex B: Summary Table of the Data Inventory 1

Annex C: Outcomes of the Brainstorming Session with TCE 1


Executive Summary


As a follow-up to the recommendations of the PBE’s Evaluation on the Strategic Objective A3: Preparedness for and Response to Emergency, the Food Security and Agricultural Projects Analysis Service (ESAF) has recruited a consultant (see TOR in Annex A) for undertaking a preliminary investigation aiming at identifying information and scopes for a database designed to support emergency-related assessments, planning and monitoring.

This report, in accordance to the TOR, details the results of an inventory of available datasets in FAO and their potential use within an FAO Emergency database.
Approach

Three types of activities were conducted in parallel during the assignment: (a) the inventory of the available information in FAO, (b) the review of the functionalities and outputs of the FAO’s information systems and (c) the investigation of the data gaps and priority information needs from the emergency officers in TC.

The process started with a review of the datasets available in FAO and with the evaluation of their technical characteristics such as data formats, accessibility, level of detail, completeness of the information. Contacts were made with about 50 officers from various FAO Divisions to acquire information concerning nature, status and policy of the data. Other aspects related to the data sustainability/maintenance were also considered.

The data inventory could not be carried out without acquiring knowledge of the systems used in FAO to manage and publish the information. This aspect became one of the main elements to be considered in approaching the database issue. The gathering of indicators, considered essential for emergency operations and for the assessment of the impact of crises on vulnerable people, was more and more associated – in the course of the assignment - to software applications designed to generate or publish this information from available “primitive” data structures. The design of an emergency database had to take into consideration that the establishment of links with other information systems was required for accessing FAO information.

A series of meetings was held with the Emergency and Technical officers to compare information needs with data available and to find out the existence of data not publicly available within the Organization. The objectives of the meetings were (a) to identify data gaps vis-à-vis the activities of the emergency officers and (b) to understand how the access to emergency-specific information could be improved using information system technologies.
Results

The review of the FAO data revealed that, while a large volume of information is available at small-scale (global/continental) level, sub-national information is normally unavailable, scattered or not entirely consistent. Moreover, information could not always be related to food security or vulnerability indicators in their original form, but could be used to generate emergency-specific indicators through “ad-hoc” data processing tools that could be potentially developed within the database.

A main outcome of the consultancy is that, given the complexity of the “data system” in FAO, a FAO Emergency database could only be conceived as a system converging/redirecting selected bits of information made available (through existing systems) to a new entity able to restructure and use this information in appropriate formats and shapes. Accordingly, a viable way for implementing the FAO Emergency database appeared to be the establishment of an information system connected to key data-provider systems and equipped with emergency-specific functions and services capable of availing the required information to the emergency officers.

The conceptual framework of such a system would consists of a series of modules - intended as software applications connected to relevant information systems and databases -, designed to perform data analysis in accordance to model(s) built in each module. The proposed modularity of the FAO Emergency Information System (EIS), as the FAO Emergency Database was renamed in this report, would give the freedom to define, add, remove modules (software applications) without heavy implications in the overall implementation of the information system. This implies that the system might “grow” with time according to the users’ needs without requiring the establishment of pre-defined functionalities at planning stage.

Three modules - the implementation of which was considered feasible in the short-mid term - were identified and proposed in this report. These modules respond to specific information needs related to different types of activities undertaken by the emergency officers:

  1. Disaster impact and need assessment: country report module – would generate a report on country situations based on the most recent information available in FAO technical departments. It is meant to facilitate prompt access to background information on countries affected by disasters where actions are to be taken. This type of reports is meant to enable consultants and officers deployed to the countries under crisis to rapidly acquire background information and to get a first overview of the country situation.

  2. Planning of operations: tools/seeds delivery module and NGOs module – The NGO module would enable the user to understand what NGO operates in the given area and what are its capacity to conduct and carry out activities. It should help the emergency officers to formulate plans of actions taking into account the presence and capacity of potential partners. The tool/seed module is an application for supporting decisions on supplies to be delivered to populations affected by crises or disasters. It is based on past deliveries of items providing information on quantities, prices, delivery time and types of items shipped to the selected area. In the case of seeds, a cross-check of the expected delivery time with the crop calendar may help the emergency officers evaluating appropriateness of actions based on the expected delivery date. The tool/seed module is intended to support decisions on what (and where) is appropriate to deliver in the given timeframe.


Considerations on database implementation

The implementation of the above modules implies that connection is made with other FAO information systems and datasets such as FPMIS, FAO ORACLE Procurement Database, FAOSTAT and various others. This would require a careful evaluation of the technical and budgetary implications and constraints before realization.

However, the creation and establishment of an Emergency Information System is not only concerned with technical aspects; it mostly depends on the capacity of the PAIA-REHAB to coordinate activities of data integration among available systems in FAO generating, managing and distributing data. The major efforts during the implementation phase might be to reach agreements for interfacing the FAO Emergency Information System with other FAO systems and for establishing mechanisms for collecting key datasets at sub-national level which are currently not available in FAO HQs or that are available in a format unsuitable for database processing. This last point is of primary importance to make of the EIS a tool responding to the information needs of the emergency officers in the various phases of the emergency cycle.

The collection and compilation of a limited set of data, complementary to the existing information, might sensibly enhance the capacity of the EIS to deal with local emergency situations. Part of this information was found available in FAO HQs as reports or hard copy documents and can be included in the EIS database using resources available at HQs. Other sub-national level information considered relevant by the TC officers has to be collected in the field, which requires an adequate information network for entering and transferring the data from the field to HQs and vice-versa. Such operation might involve a large variety of resources - FAO Representations, Emergency Coordinators, NGOs and other FAO partners – that could contribute to the activity. The establishment of a proper mechanism for data collection should be defined at an early stage to ensure that information received at FAO HQs or sent from FAO HQs to the field would meet the required standards in terms of quality and reliability.

This document represents the first step of a process leading to the establishment of an FAO Emergency Information System. The information and conclusions included in this report should be considered preliminary and subject to modifications and amendments.

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