I Workshop on Global Forest Information Systems: SDI for the Amazon
  Workshop in conjunction with GeoInfo 2008
One of the most important research topics today is related to Global Change: “How is the Earth’s environment changing and what are the consequences for human civilization?” The science areas necessary to address this question are so many that only a solid interdisciplinary approach can succeed. One of the attempts to understand Global Change in an interdisciplinary way is what is called today Sustainability Science. Sustainability science purports to understand, integrate, and model nature and society. Since most of the interventions on the environment are human choices, we need modeling tools that capture the representation of the world as seen and modified by human beings.

Workshop Final Report - SDI for the Amazon

Position Papers


Workshop “Spatial Data Infrastructures for the Amazon”

Monday, Dec. 08, 2008

10:45 – 12:00

Keynote: Dr. Max Craglia – Institute for Environment and Sustainability – Joint Research Centre of the European Commission

“From Today’s Spatial Data Infrastructures to Tomorrow’s Digital Earth(s)”

14:00 – 15:45

Position papers

Gilberto Câmara (INPE)

“What is the SDI architecture best suited to support sustainability science applied to the Amazon?”

Pedro Ronalt Vieira, Omar Antonio Lunardi, Antonio Henrique Correia, and Linda Soraya Issmael (Brazilian Army Geographical Service – DSG)

“Spatial Data Infrastructure for Amazon”

Silvana Amaral (INPE)

“Spatial data for scientific research in the Amazon – consideration from a user’s point of view”

Jugurta Lisboa Filho and Odilon Corrêa da Silva (UFV)

“Spatial Data Infrastructures: reuse beyond the metadata!”

Luiz Paulo Fortes (IBGE)

“Status of Spatial Data Infrastructure in Brazil

Clodoveu Davis (UFMG), Frederico T. Fonseca (Pennsylvania State University), and Gilberto Câmara (INPE)

“Understanding Global Change: The Role of Geographic Information Science in the Integration of People and Nature”

Eduardo Acquarone

"The Globo Amazonia Portal"

15:45 – 16:15

Coffee break

16:15 – 17:45


·         Research questions on SDI for sustainability research

·         Definition of the main research themes

·         Division into groups for debate


Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2008

14:00 – 15:30

Presentation of a summary of the discussions from the previous day and debate

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee break

16:00 – 17:45

Closing panel


Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2008

11:00 – 11:45

Presentation of final results to the GeoInfo audience  Clodoveu Davis (UFMG), Frederico T. Fonseca (Pennsylvania State University), and Gilberto Câmara (INPE)


The tools and methods for information integration across multiple sources considering various views of the world and across various scales are very important for Sustainability Science. Such level of integration has been examined, in the context of GIScience, mainly in two interconnected research topics: semantics and spatial data infrastructures (SDI). While the former deals with subjects of a more theoretical and conceptual nature, the latter seems to be particularly relevant when one considers the breadth of scope and physical size of the various sources of relevant data. In fact, a data-centric view is probably insufficient, considering the important challenges that exist in modeling and analysis. It is necessary also to envision geoprocessing services and information services based on SDIs. The availability of large amounts of spatial (and temporal) data, distributed throughout the Internet, challenges us to find more efficient ways to tap into those information resources to produce a better understanding of the complex issues related to environmental change.

When approaching the idea of a SDI for integrated scientific understanding of the Brazilian Amazon, there are two competing perspectives. One approach is to view SDI as an automated map data distribution system. In this case, SDI implementation focuses on distribution of data from existing sources on an “as-is” basis. The alternative is to view SDI as an enabler for understanding space. In this case, a SDI does not only deliver maps, but acts as an architecture for disseminating spatial information globally, with associated metadata on quality, uncertainty, lineage, and semantic descriptions, providing means for an effective understanding of the complex interactions between people and nature.

So, in order to be able to integrate knowledge on the Brazilian Amazon sustainability-related processes, do we need more information or more people? Or is it necessary to have better models and more computing power? We are interested in contributions that integrate both people and the technology aspects of information and models.


  • 1.      Supporting Sustainability Science and Policy Making

    a. What is sustainability? Can we define a “community of practice” for sustainability science?

    b.     What are the specific spatial data needs of sustainability science?

    2.      Data

    a.     What´s available? What are the data policies in place?

    b.     What´s not available? What are the data gaps?

    c.     What will be available? What are the present and future data sources?

    d.     What can be made available (geosensors technology, future remote sensing, scientific data not on the Web)?

    e.    What about people? How can we obtain data about people and on the impact of human actions?

    3.      SDI Architecture

    a.     What is the SDI architecture best suited to support sustainability science?

    b.   What visualization and search tools are best suited for SDIs that support sustainability? How should a Sustainable Earth portal work?

    c.     What are the limitations of current Virtual Globes (e.g., Google Earth) that need to be improved for a Sustainable Earth portal?

    4.      Individual contributions

    a.     How can citizens, scientists and policy makers interact with the Sustainable Earth SDI portal as individuals?

    b.     Can the monitoring of the Amazon be “wikified”, i.e., can volunteers closely monitor environmental issues by working in their free time over freely-available geographic data? What kind of tools would they need?

    c.     Are volunteers able to obtain, analyze, and identify change vectors from online data sources? Can the quality of this volunteer work be assessed? How can people be motivated to contribute? Is it possible to approach real-time monitoring if there are enough volunteers?

    5.      Modeling

    a.   How to model the interactions between nature and society, and how to measure the impact of governmental policies? How can SDI and other sources of data be used for that?

Intended Audience

This workshop welcomes those who are interested in the innovative uses of spatial data infrastructures to the study and understanding of the Amazon towards sustainability. We want a multidisciplinary meeting in which Social Scientists, Natural Scientists and Geographic Information Scientists will have a place for discussion and planning ahead.

Goals and Expected Outcomes

The main outcome is an initial first attempt at how to use spatial data infrastructures in innovative ways to enable the use and sharing of data about the Amazon.
The workshop will also serve as a place for discussion of drafts of papers to be submitted to special issue on Spatial Data Infrastructures for the Sustainability of the Brazilian Amazon: Integrating People, Information, and Models to appear in Earth Science Informatics.


Important Dates

October 10, 2008
Deadline for the submission of position papers

October 20th., 2008
Notification of acceptance.

December 8-10, 2008
Workshop Spatial Data Infrastructures for the Sustainability of the Brazilian Amazon: Integrating People, Information, and Models in Rio de Janeiro.