25 July 2017

Newest Element of AGU’s Digital Strategy Focuses on Engagement, Experimentation and Open Data

Posted by Chris McEntee

AGU has long been a proponent and leader in open data and open science, not only in our own publications and meetings, but also within the broader research community. I’m pleased to announce that we have taken that commitment to the next level today by launching an Application Program Interface (API) that will open the door for scientists, developers, and others to create innovative applications that advance science and our mission. We are celebrating this development with our first API Challenge. The Challenge provides access to Fall Meeting data drawn from the scientific program and invites participants to develop web-based tools that add value, such as, but not limited to, aiding serendipitous discovery of relevant research, finding new collaboration opportunities, and identifying emerging areas of science.

Entries will be judged by a panel of experts, with up to three winning solutions selected for recognition with cash prizes of $15,000, $10,000, and $5,000. The winners will be announced in November and recognized at the December 2017 Fall Meeting. Their applications will be made available for use before and at the meeting. For more information about the challenge or to register to participate, visit our website.

We intend to grow our API program to include data from other AGU sources, and to continue to invite participation from our community. This program represents the latest visible step in a digital strategy that began in 2014 when we transformed Eos from a members-only weekly print publication into a dynamic, open Earth and space science news website and an informative monthly member magazine. Eos.org launched in December of 2014 and the magazine launched in January of 2015, and both have since been honored with several awards.

This Eos transformation was built on AGU’s century-long effort to provide support and services to the scientific community. That effort includes our scientific journals, technical publications, and scientific meetings, as well as our efforts to promote and share scientific discoveries and insights with a wide variety of audiences and facilitate essential collaboration between researchers and other stakeholders in the public and private sectors. We are fortunate to have a legacy of scientific discovery and advancement, and to have an established reputation as an authoritative voice for Earth and space science.

AGU is not resting on that legacy. Rather, we are looking forward to the next century of Earth and space science, where success depends in large part on the quality and relevance of digital communications and engagement that meets the needs of diverse online users (members, the broader Earth and space science community, and others). Our current suite of digital products is not yet serving this aspiration and limits our ability to meet your needs for information about your field and new discoveries and trends in science, as well as to give you a platform that can foster experimentation within AGU’s membership and the worldwide Earth and space science community.

To remedy this situation, we are undertaking a new holistic, user-focused approach to our digital products and services. We understand that modern user experiences are rapidly moving away from the delivery of static web content and websites (which we currently use today), toward an application-based model in which content from disparate sources is delivered dynamically and responsively over any kind of browser or device, based on a user’s preferences.

Our digital strategy embraces this modern, flexible approach, and is grounded in the idea that AGU should be able to integrate all our rich content and data, and then make it accessible through a variety of applications and resources that support specific business and scientific needs. The API program is a building block for this strategy, and we look forward to its expansion.  Over time, we believe that the products developed by AGU and by our community will enhance and transform our members’ and stakeholders’ ability to find each other, connect, share information, and expand upon their discoveries, making the work of Earth and space scientists easier and more productive than ever.

While this digital transformation won’t happen all at once, work is underway to build the architecture needed to support such a platform(s). You will begin to see changes in the way AGU provides content and services as early as 2018, and we look forward to using your feedback on these initial offerings to further refine our strategy and plan for new and innovative products and services that will help you advance your science for the benefit of humanity.