National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

national academies.jpgSigned by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences was formed to “investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science” for the nation, congress and federal agencies.

Considering this was the middle of the tumultuous US Civil War government saw the imperative for scientific research and collaboration. The period was also the scientific age of positivism which focused on empirical evidence, reason and logic. Since its auspicious inception, the National Academy has expanded to include Engineering and Medicine as a comprehensive, trusted organization that provides research leadership and experience to the nation.

Geographical Sciences Committee

Last week I was honored and excited to be invited as a member of the the recently reconstituted Geographic Sciences Committee (GSC) of the Board of Earth Sciences and Resources. Together with my fellow committee members we are devising a research study strategy that focused on major issues and questions faced by Federal agencies and the scientific and engineering communities.

All reports are public and you can see previous focus on community disaster resilience, land change modeling and transformative research in geographical sciences.

The GSC is also the U.S. liason to the International Geographical Union as well as advises the National Academy Foreign Secretary on matters concerning international organizations, programs, and research.

Our tenure is through 2019, so for the next three years we will hear from communities on important research questions, convene experts and meetings to discuss state-of-the-art and opportunities, and produce high-quality reports that give context and direction to future work. My particular interests align with human geography and neogeography and how we can expand the awareness and utilization of geographical sciences by other domains.

Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable

In June I also spoke at the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable hosted by Policy and Global Affairs. The meeting, “Building Smart Communities for the Future”, shared experiences of smart communities around the world.

Our panel spoke about the opportunity for smart communities to support the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals and secondary cities. These cities such as Medellin, Cusco, and Mekelle are rapidly growing and modernizing but outside the typical perspective of large-sale global cities like London and New York City. They serve as visible and innovative incubators of technology, governance and community that better represents the majority of urbanizing populations.

Increasing access to information and communications through smart phones is changing the ability for citizens active role in their government and community development. How these capabilities evolve, empower people but also raise questions or privacy, equality and opportunity are imperative to address.

I’m looking forward to our committee’s research work and future open workshops and meetings to hear from everyone on ideas for the future of geographical science.

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About the Author

Andrew Turner is an advocate of open standards and open data. He is actively involved in many organizations developing and supporting open standards, including OpenStreetMap, Open Geospatial Consortium, Open Web Foundation, OSGeo, and the World Wide Web Consortium. He co-founded CrisisCommons, a community of volunteers that, in coordination with government agencies and disaster response groups, build technology tools to help people in need during and after a crisis such as an earthquake, tsunami, tornado, hurricane, flood, or wildfire.