The History of ESIP

Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) is a community of Earth science data and information technology practitioners who facilitate the distribution of Earth science data, and provide products and services to decision makers and researchers in public and private settings. ESIP’s strength comes from its depth of partner organizations, which now number 110. Among these are all NOAA, NASA and USGS Earth observing data centers, as well as government research laboratories, research universities, modelers, education resource providers, technology developers, nonprofits and commercial enterprises.

During the last eighteen years ESIP has developed significant collaboration methods and infrastructure that provide a scalable, neutral platform to support Earth science research, data and technical communities. Our partner organizations and community participants lead the advancement of Earth science information best practices in an open and transparent fashion

The Federation of Earth Science Information Partners was founded in 1998 by NASA in response to a National Research Council (NRC) review of the Earth Observation System Data and Information System (EOSDIS). The NRC called on NASA to develop a new, distributed structure that would be operated and managed by the Earth science community that would include those responsible for all elements of Earth observation, including observation and research, application and education.

ESIP began with 24 NASA-funded partners, whose purpose was to experiment with and evolve methods to make Earth science data easy to preserve, locate, access and use by a broad community encompassing research, education, and commercial interests. NASA adopted a deliberate and incremental approach in developing ESIP by starting with a limited set of working prototype projects called ESIPs, representing both the research and applications development communities. These prototype projects were joined by nine NASA data archive centers to form the core of the early ESIP and were responsible for creating its governing structures and the collaborative community it is today. ESIP is a virtual organization where the Earth science community voluntarily comes together.

In 2001, ESIP created a non-profit organization called the Foundation for Earth Science (FES). Through a Memorandum of Understanding with ESIP, FES provided management support to ESIP as it moved from an operational prototype to an independent organization. In 2002, FES staff were hired to support the work of ESIP. FES created operating policies for ESIP and facilitated the development of its first strategic plan, which was adopted by ESIP’s Assembly in 2004. The 2004 strategic plan reflected the evolving role of ESIP as it expanded to 75 partners; these included NOAA’s data centers, further broadening ESIP’s scope and growing community voice.

In 2009, ESIP refocused its energy on data and associated technologies. New collaboration areas formed around data preservation and stewardship and information quality, while education and societal benefit activities addressed climate and energy. ESIP continues to respond to the needs of its partners by addressing timely topics that affect the broader community.

ESIP’s Strategic Planning Committee has developed a new road map and strategicc plan for 2016-2020 (see also: above). These outlines four primary goals, which will help ESIP advance and grow its research and education.

  • Increase the use and value of Earth science data and information.
  • Strengthen the ties between observations and user communities (e.g., technologies, research, education and applications).
  • Promote techniques to articulate and measure the socioeconomic value and benefit of Earth science data, information and applications.
  • Position ESIP to play a major role in Earth science issues (e.g., addressing effects of climate change mitigation, adaptation and supporting sustainable science data infrastructure).

In 2016 ESIP Federation members and the Board of the Foundation for Earth Science voted to merge into a single membership organization: Earth Science Information Partners. This merger was finalized in January of 2017.

ESIP will rely on its internal communities to set priorities for the implementation of this strategic vision. ESIP remains uniquely positioned to make better use of science information and meet the growing need for information to solve the Earth’s pressing environmental problems.

In 2018, ESIP will celebrate its 20th anniversary — join us!