2018 Community Meeting Note


Meeting Date: August 31, Friday

Meeting Place: FOSS4G Conference, Dar es Salaam


  • George Karwani
  • Andy Nelson
  • Aileen Maunahan
  • Chandra Biradar
  • Catherine Pfeifer
  • Martin Louis Van Brakel
  • Francis Muthoni
  • Ismail Mohammed
  • John Yumbya Mutua
  • Jordan Chamberlin
  • Mansoor Leh
  • Murali Krishna Gumma
  • Raj Kumar Singh
  • Sander Zwart
  • Shwu Jiau Teoh
  • Stephen Oloo
  • Tunrayo Alabi
  • Yating Ru
  • Zhe Guo
  • Kai Sonder

1. Introduction

CGIAR-CSI actively participated in the 2018 FOSS4G Conference, held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. We co-organized three training workshops (Drones in Agriculture, Spatial Data Handling with R, and R API for aWhere Data), a side event on the Drones in Agriculture Knowledge Sharing, and a series of academic presentations throughout the conference. Total of 26 members from our participated, representing 10 Centers (CIAT, CIMMYT, ICARDA, ICRISAT, IFPRI, IITA, ILRI, IRRI, IWMI, and WorldFish) and ITC. On the conference’s last day, we organized a 3-hour Business Meeting to discuss various topics that require the community’s collective inputs and decisions.

2. Publication of geospatial datasets

Issue Our community’s membership grew to more than 100! How are we doing so far? Jawoo presented the 2018 workplan (https://cgiarcsi.community/about/2018-workplan) and updated each topic to discuss the status and what can be done better/more/differently for the rest of year.
Discussion There is no central directory yet, but many Centers are publishing these into their own repository.

As the development of GeoGARDIAN matures (https://geo.cgiar.io) in early 2019, some of these repositories (including ILRI) can potentially be migrated over to a centralized facility.

Follow Up Jawoo will compile a list of geospatial data repositories in CGIAR and share with Agroknow to ensure their metadata catalog is harvested by GARDIAN.

3. Capacity building

Issue We organized training workshops at FOSS4G. Big Data is working with UC Davis GFSC team to develop an R-based training module. There are many good distance learning courses out there. What are the demands?
Discussion We need more training on the programming (Python and R). Distance learning courses will probably be more efficient. WorldFish tries a group-level distance learning (attending online training together, as a group). Many options are out there. Some require subscriptions, which can be covered by CSI budget next year. Specific demands identified for Programming in Python (for Google Earth Engine), Good QGIS training (for ourselves and partners), and Sentinel Application Platform (SNAP).
Follow Up Jawoo will further discuss the demands/options for the training and reflect in the 2019 workplan.

4. Shared services 

Issue In addition to Esri and ENVI, we now have GBDX and aWhere. Are we all fully utilizing these services? How can we make the best value out of these investments?
Discussion GBDX has been provided to about 40 users across 15 Centers, but only two users so far developed some outputs. aWhere Data will be provided to 15 users. After the initial exploration, however, the uptake of these data/tools in the research has been slow. Proficiency in Python programming is required, but not common in CGIAR. Further training might be necessary as a rolling basis. Some experienced technical difficulty to log in to the platform. ICARDA hired a staff to explore GBDX and develop applications. Pix4D was positive to offer non-profit subscription rates for Pix4Dfield, which was used in the Drone for Agriculture training workshop. CIMMYT will explore subscription of DroneDeploy, a cloud-based drone imagery management platform.
Follow Up Jawoo will further discuss the demands/options for the shared services and reflect in the 2019 workplan.

5. Travel support

Issue A big part of our annual budget (>40%) has been used for supporting members’ travels to the conferences, meetings, and training workshops. Shall we continue, or change in some ways?
Discussion CSI supports community members’ travel to conferences and training workshops, as well as the annual gathering of CSI members (like the FOSS4G this year). In return, the travelers are asked to post a blog on the community website. We can also identify key geospatial science meetings and send our representative. CGIAR Big Data Convention has not been a popular option (too broad topics), but some will attend and can be supported. This will be a good opportunity to link with external partners. Additionally, we can also use this to support organizing a writing workshop, targeting to develop a specific writing product. Topics TBD, but could be linked to timely issues, where we have a strong comparative advantage over others.
Follow Up Andy will start planning for a writing workshop to co-develop a paper/report. Community members will inform Jawoo about a key geospatial event where CSI’s representation will be important.

6. Mini-grant program

Issue We selected three proposals to develop key datasets missing in CGIAR’s geospatial work. We anticipate useful datasets to be delivered by the end of the year and made open. Should we continue this next year? How can we make it work better and even more useful in the future?
Discussion All agreed this was a good use of our budget. It would have been nice if this can be used internally within CGIAR, but Jawoo explained the CoP budget was not designed for the center-center transaction. For the topics, we didn’t specify what datasets we needed. In the future, it might be more useful to specify what we are looking for, rather than ask applicants to suggest. Some suggested ideas on the topics included:

  • Crop mapping with the latest baseline year (no more 2000!)
  • Soil mapping
  • Gridded population
  • Road conditions
  • Mapping poverty in 2015
  • Model input parameters

Additionally, we can also use this opportunity to develop a workflow or a tool to make our work easier. Such as:

  • Survey tools
  • Data mining tools
  • Technology targeting tools
  • Field boundary detection algorithm/workflow/tool (Hackathon?)
Follow Up Jawoo will organize a meeting to further discuss this in mid-2019 before launching the second round of mini-grant program.

7. Metadata standards 

Issue We earlier (back in 2014) agreed to follow the CG Core metadata standards for geospatial data, with some additional fields. There are some standing questions from the Metadata Working Group.
Discussion For the Information Products Synopsis, we are happy with the [#15 Dataset-geospatial]. This will be a good catch-all for geospatial data products. For the description, we describe a geospatial dataset as: “A dataset including information about the location of specific features, and attributes and properties of those features, in three forms: (i) raster, (ii) vector consisting of points, lines, and polygons, and (iii) data values that express attributes associated with geographic locations or features, intended to be used by computer systems that enable spatial analysis.”For the CG Core Metadata Schema and Application Profile, we support the revisions made by Enrico Bonaiuti (ICARDA) in April 2018.
Follow Up Jawoo will communicate with Martin Muller, who manages the CG Core metadata specifications.

8. Next meetings 

Issue We enjoyed our participation in the 2018 FOSS4G in Dar es Salaam, which was a convenient location for many of our colleagues working in Africa and Europe. Where/when should we meet next time?
Discussion The 2018 CGIAR Big Data Convention will be in Nairobi (ICRAF campus) on October 3-5, and we will have some CSI-dedicated time allocated in the agenda on October 2. This will mainly be a venue to promote our activities to a broader audience in CGIAR and partner organizations. Jawoo will prepare some communication materials.Next FOSS4G will be held in Bucharest, Romania – and we’re not so much interested in… Next CGIAR Big Data Convention will be in Hyderabad, India. This could be a good venue. Another option is Davis, California – where the GFSC group is planning to organize a conference in Q2 of 2019. We will continue scoping.
Follow Up Jawoo will continue scoping for an opportunity.