Advancing the RDA/CODATA Data Systems, Tools, and Services for Crisis Situations WG

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09 Jun 2023
Meeting objectives: 


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The aim of this working meeting is to present the idea of the RDA/CODATA Data Systems, Tools, and Services for Crisis Situations Working Group and receive feedback, input, and further direction on the WG’s aims, objectives, methodologies, and deliverables as well as expand the WG’s collaborations within RDA and attract an expanded and more diverse WG membership.


This working meeting will present the specific context and needs for data collection, data analysis, interoperability standards, and data presentation in crisis situations alongside why specific data systems, tools, and services need to be developed, oriented, and applied (as appropriate) to the urgencies of the needs of scientists, policymakers, first responders, private sector, NGOs and individuals and communities directly affected by a crisis. The adaptability, quality, reliability, and interoperability of data systems, tools, and services is of foremost importance to first responders, scientists in the field and those responsible for situation analysis, as well as for governments, emergency response organisations, funders, science publishers, mass media and social media, and (perhaps above all) the individuals and communities on the ground in need of an accurate understanding of their situation and appropriate support.


In order to facilitate discussion, the full presentations of the session will be recorded two weeks in advance of the session and made available for participants to watch and share. The presentations provide a general introduction to the need for data systems, tools, and services to consider how to ensure rapid and accurate connectivity and interoperability during crisis situations alongside the need for open architect and open science allowing scientists, first responders, help organisations, and affected communities and individuals address the urgencies of crises with timely, accurate, and rich data. This includes the need to have data seamlessly transferred to repositories and databases for curation, accurate and rapid analysis, and integration into decision-making for policy makers and emergency responders. The session will also present case studies in differing crisis situations to demonstrate the needs and requirements for data systems, tools, and services in crises. In addition, ELSIethically significant issues related to data collection, curation, and transfer, which are often overlooked, will be clarified in order to prevent potential risks to both decision-making and response mechanisms, as well as the well-being of individuals and society as a whole.   The session will be primarily interactive with the RDA community, with short summaries by working group members and experts with the majority of the time allocated to working groups and interactive discussion.

Meeting agenda: 

Time (min)

Agenda Item


Welcome and introduction 

Stefanie Kethers


Presentation: The  RDA/CODATA Data Systems, Tools, and Services for Crisis Situations Working Group

  • Background and description

  • Aims and objectives

  • Deliverables and methodologies

  • Timeline and milestones 

  • Group status and next steps

Gnana Bharathy


The UNESCO Toolkit for Open Science and this working group’s contribution

Francis P. Crawley


Case studies on data systems, tools, and services in crisis situations (lightning talks based on pre-recorded videos)

  1. Covid-19 (Virginia Murray, United Kingdom)

  2. Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria (Burcak Basbug Erkan, Turkey)

  3. Cyclones in Asia (Ron Law, The Philippines)

  4. Bushfires (Stefanie Kethers, Australia)

  5. The War in Ukraine (Francis P. Crawley, Belgium)



The roles of scientific principles and ELSI principles in framing the working group’s research

Perihan Elif Ekmekci


Breakout groups activity to identify potential characteristics and applications of systems, tools, and services to emergency situations



Report back from the working groups



Summary of the working meeting and next steps

Stefanie Kethers

Target Audience: 




To have access to and the ability to implement systems, tools, and services in crisis situations. In particular, to ensure that the systems,, tools, and services are appropriate to the needs of the data lifecycle and the research lifecycle in crisis situations

UN, international, and national agencies with responsibilities in crisis management and governance

To have access to defined interoperable tools data systems, tools, and services based on scientific required for crisis management and governance.

Data Scientists & Data support professionals (e.g., data managers, data curators) 

To design and help implement their systems, tools, data management and data curation for use in crisis situations.

Open Science/Research/Data Commons professionals 

To develop open science features, functionalities, and interoperability for the use of data systems, tools, and services in crisis situations

Tool developers/


To assist data system, tool, and services providers in providing the needed functionality and interoperability to meet the direct needs of the various sciences, emergency responders, and policymakers in crisis situations

Research performing organisations

To make informed recommendations at the organisational policy level and to research data and computation departments on how to develop, acquire, and deploy data tools and services for assisting scientists and emergency field workers in addressing crises.

Publishers and editors

To assist publishers, editors, and scientists in the publication of quality, accurate, and reliable data during health emergencies, natural disasters, and geo-political disruptions 

Media: mass media and social media

To ensure that the data systems, tool, and services contribute to accurate and reliable data in mass and social media, helping to combat misinformation and disinformation, while also contributing to the fight against censorship and the need to provide the public and citizens with as complete and accurate information as is available, including the recognition of its limitations


To assist funders who support data science and science generally in crisis situations to understand the systems, tools, and services needed by scientists, first responders, and policy-makers.

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

This working meeting will help to develop and recruit members to a new RDA/CODATA Data Systems, Tools, and Services for Crisis Situations Working Group (DSTSCS-WG). This working group arises out of a widespread set of activities and interests in RDA and CODATA that have developed through close interaction with leading international, regional, and national organisations playing prominent roles in crisis preparedness and response architecture, crisis governance, and the management of crisis situations.

There is an increasing awareness of the need for data systems, tools, and services (DSTSs) addressed to the contexts of disasters, emergencies, and crises as well as how these core data elements should be accessible in timely and reliable manners that are interrelated and interoperable. Leading inter-governmental, international, and national agencies as well as emergency response organisations and frontline workers and communities have recently expressed this need. Examining the applicability and interoperability of data systems, tools, and services is a critical step to developing more cohesive, supportive, and complementary mechanisms for preparedness, response, and recovery to crisis situations. Doing so will also lead to synergies across international, regional, and national institutions and initiatives. This working group will contribute to addressing the governance and management of cascading and transboundary crises by strengthening the understanding of the characteristics and interoperability of data systems, tools, and services fundamental to policy and governance for strategic crisis management.

Most of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) address aspects that are directly related to the need for the collection, analysis, sharing, and interpretation of data in crisis situations: e.g., SDG 1, 2, 3, 4. 5. 8. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17. The 2030 Agenda, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015, recognizes the importance of high-quality, timely, and disaggregated data to support the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs. It emphasises the need for data-driven decision-making and evidence-based policies to effectively address development challenges. The UN has called for collaborative efforts among governments, organisations, and stakeholders to strengthen data systems, tools, and services.

Short Group Status: 

The RDA/CODATA Data Systems, Tools, and Services for Crisis Situations Working Group was launched following a session held during the RDA Plenary 20 in Gothenburg in October 2022. Since the initial meeting a core group has been examining within the RDA community and outside the interests in and desired format and work for this working group. Careful attention has been given to the interests of the RDA and CODATA communities, while ensuring that there was a need (within the data community and outside among scientists and policymakers and publishers), while also defining the gaps in the data landscape as well as the methods and outcomes required to address these gaps. Careful consultation has taken place inside and outside RDA. The case statement is well developed and will be placed on the RDA website and sent to the RDA Technical Advisory Board (TAB) for its review and eventual approval by 30 June 2023.

Outside the RDA, the working group was discussed over several months within CODATA in relationship to its work on data policy in times of crisis and submitting for formal acceptance to the CODATA Executive Committee with a positive decision in May 2023. The working group was also discussed with the International Science Council in connection with the work of its Center for Future Science, the UK Health Security Agency in relation to its Global Health Disaster Risk Reduction Department, and the UKRI ESRC Digital Footprints programme as well as with the Australian National Emergency Agency. We further consulted with The Royal Society (UK), and the ECO-ASCO Meeting on the Impact of the War in Ukraine on Cancer. The working group has also been discussed with UNESCO in the context of contributing to the development of a toolkit for the Declaration on Open Science, and it was presented and discussed at the GA4GH 2023 April Connect, The Royal Society, London, 20 April 2023.

The WG concept and planning was further included in discussions for input and to gage potential membership at the United Nations World Data Forum satellite meeting at the United Nations University in Macau, 25 April 2023; the ‘Technical workshop: validation of the prototype for the new losses and damages tracking system’, organised by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction World Meteorological Organization United Nations Development Programme, Bonn, DE, 3-4 May 2023; the Data Science for Health in Africa Virtual Networking Exchange on Cape Town, South Africa, 3 May 2023; the Global Open Science Cloud (GOSC) SDG-13 [Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts] Case Study Working on 16-18 May 2013, Bangkok, Thailand; and the Digital Capabilities in Medicines Development, King’s College London, United Kingdom, 22 May 2023. Widespread interest has been shown for the need of this working group as well as for participation in it. We will continue this international consultation as part of the working group’s strategy to ensure inclusivity, outreach, and the eventual dissemination and impact of its results. A session has been planned in which this working group will be presented and feedback sought at the ALLEA General Assembly and Symposium on Data for Emergencies 22 June 2023 in London and at the the US-UK Scientific Forum on ‘Researcher Access to Data: Changes and Challenges’ at the US National Academy of Science (NAS) 12-13 September 2023, Washington, DC.

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Meeting presenters: 
Burcak Basbug Erkan, Perihan Elif Ekmekci, Gnana Bharathy, Francis P. Crawley, Virginia Murray, Stefanie Kethers