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International Council for Science : Committee on Data for Science and Technology
CODATA The Committee on Data for Science and Technology
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Global Roads Data Development

Approved by the CODATA 27th General Assembly in Cape Town 2010
Renewal approved by the CODATA 28th General Assembly, Taipei 2012

1- Objectives of the Task Group:

The objective of this Task Group is to continue the work of the former Working Group on Global Roads Data Development, and specifically to continue the development of the roads data set catalog (v.1 was released in December 2009), to release a version one Global Roads Open Access Data Set (gROADS) (projected for 2011), and to develop the infrastructure necessary for regular updates and releases. The Task Group will also continue with efforts initiated under the Working Group to pilot test and refine innovative methodologies for roads data development, including the use of semi-automated extraction algorithms from high resolution remote sensing imagery and the expansion of the use of the gROADS PDA (using the open source Cybertracker software), developed under a project funded by the Gates Foundation AGCommons initiative.

These activities have been and will continue to be carried out on an internationally collaborative basis, building on existing partnerships among several organizations, including the Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) at Columbia University in the USA, the Center for Spatial Information Science at the University of Tokyo, the Group on Earth Observations Systems of Systems (GEOSS), Information Management & Mine Action Programs (iMMAP) in the USA and France, Information Technology Outreach Services (ITOS) of the University of Georgia, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan, and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Kenya, and expanding on these to include other partners.

The Task Group will also experiment with opening the geospatial data management system (in ArcSDE) for regional data custodians to add data. In addition, the Task Group will build on the Working Group’s early explorations of licensing issues in order to come up with an appropriate license (probably Creative Commons 0) and trademark approach for the dissemination of the data set.

The ultimate goal of the Task Group is to strengthen international science and applied uses of data for the benefit of society by providing improved roads data to the world community on an open access basis.

For more information and regular updates, please visit:

2- Membership

  • Alex de Sherbinin (Chair) CIESIN, Columbia University P.O. Box 1000 Palisades, NY 10964 USA

  • Glenn Hyman (Vice Chair) CGIAR-International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) A.A. 6713 Cali Colombia
    +57-2-4450000 ext 3731

  • Nicolas Chavent GIS/SDI Consultant France
    + 39 06 77 59 19 47

  • Olivier Cottray IMMAP France

  • Sives Govander EIS-Africa Postnet Suite 156 Private Bag X15 Menlo Park 0102 South Africa

  • Timothy Haithcoat Geographic Resources Center University of Missouri 104 Stewart Hall Columbia, MO 65211 USA

  • Koki Iwao AIST Japan, seconded to the GEOSS Secretariat in Geneva Grid Technology Research Center GEO Grid Team Tsukuba Central 2 Umezono 1-1-1 Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8568 Japan

  • Kate Lance SERVIR-Africa Coordination Office NASA Marshall Space Flight Center National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) 320 Sparkman Dr. Huntsville, AL 35805 USA;
    +1 256-961-7530

  • Mikel Maron Open Streetmap Foundation San Francisco, CA USA

  • Johan Meijer Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) Bilthoven Netherlands


  • Andrew Nelson Social Sciences Division International Rice research Institute DAPO BOX 7777 Metro Manila Philippines
    +63-2-580-5600 ext 2592/2627

  • Harlan Onsrud Dept of Spatial Information Science University of Maine 5711 Boardman Hall Orono, ME 04469 USA

  • Karen Payne Information Technology Outreach Services (ITOS), University of Georgia Chicopee Complex, Suite 2058 1180 E. Broad St. Athens, GA 30602-5418 USA

  • Thanattaporn Rasamit Transport Policy and Development Section Transport Division United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) Bangkok Thailand

  • Ryosuke Shibasaki Center for Spatial Information Science University of Tokyo 5-1-5 Kashiwanoha Kashiwa-shi, Chiba 277-8568 Japan

  • Jinnian Wang Institute of Remote Sensing Applications (IRSA), Chinese Academy of Sciences(CAS) P.O. Box 9718, No.20 Datun Road Olympic Science & Technology Park 
    CAS Beijing 100101 China
    + 86 -10-64859301

  • Ming-Der Yang Department of Civil Engineering, National Chung Hsing University, Taiwan

3- Deliverables expected to be completed by the 2012 General Assembly:

  • Articles in the CODATA Data Science Journal or other refereed Journals
    An article was published in 2007 by two of the working group members, Andrew Nelson and Alex de Sherbinin, on the need for an improved global roads data set. It is expected that core members of the working group will work on a peer reviewed article outlining the state of global road mapping and the strategy taken to achieve the gROADS product.
  • Books and Monographs
  • Other Products or Accomplishments
    We expect to release gROADS v.1, an improved, integrated, global roads data set.

    We will promote data collection through the use of the gROADS PDA roads data collection tool (see response to item 5), and to participate and help coordinate efforts among the multiple groups pursing enhanced global roads data coverage.

    The Task Group will facilitate collaboration on areas of research interest among its members, for example, the extraction and conflation of data from high resolution remote sensing imagery, which is of interest to members in Japan (Drs. Shibasaki & Iwao) and the United States (Dr. Haithcoat). It is expected that the application of these methods to other image types and contexts will be improved and expanded, and that user friendly tools will be developed

4- Financial support from sources other than CODATA International:

  • Grants and Contracts
    Two grants were received for work undertaken under the auspices of the Working Group – one grant from NASA-SERVIR for $25k to undertake road mapping using ASTER imagery in Ethiopia and to underwrite data cleaning for East African countries, and another grant from the Gates Foundation’s AGCommons initiative for the development of roads data using PDA’s with a customized gROADS interface (following the UN Spatial Data Infrastructure-Transport data model). The affiliation with CODATA has benefited the project, since it is viewed as a truly international scientific collaboration, and not simply the project of one or two organizations, and hence we expect that other grants will be forthcoming.

  • In kind support
    CIESIN’s NASA-funded Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center can provide in kind support in the form of staff time coverage for the co-chair (Alex de Sherbinin) and occasional work-study students or interns. Other task force members are contributing their time, for the most part, on a pro bono basis

5- Other organizations or programs sponsoring or participating in the Task Group:

In addition to being a Working Group of CODATA, the Global Roads Data Development initiative is an approved task of the UN-GAID e-SDDC (UN Global Alliance on ICT for Development Open Access to and Application of Scientific Data in Developing Countries), and is endorsed by the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI) and GISCorps of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). In addition, the roads data development activity has also been listed as sub-task EC-09- 02(a), "Human Dimension of Ecosystem Utilization and Conservation," of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) 2009-2011 Work Plan. Finally, the data development activity is acknowledged as a contribution to the UN Geographic Information Working Group (UNGIWG) through its use of the United Nations Spatial Data Infrastructure (UNSDI)- Transport (UNSDI-T) data model. We expect that these endorsements will be continued should the Working Group be accepted as a Task Group.

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