DSI Resident Faculty and Assistant Professor of Geography and Spatial Sciences, Pinki Mondal, has created a new open data platform (https://www.centralindia-datacollab.org/) supported by her DSI seed grant. She shares some details below.

I have been working in the Central Indian landscape for over a decade now. This landscape hosts several protected areas/tiger reserves, and yet is highly human-modified through intense agricultural practices and infrastructure development. Back in 2012, 6 researchers (including myself) started brainstorming how we can bring together different stakeholders working/living in this landscape. As a result, I became one of the founder-members of the Network for Conserving Central India (NCCI), which is a network of researchers, policy makers at government agencies, landscape managers, and community workers. The primary objectives of NCCI are: (i) to provide a platform (via biennial symposium, listserv, virtual groups) for researchers and policymakers to share ongoing work and generalized knowledge, and (ii) to foster interdisciplinary research and policy collaboration to conserve biodiversity, improve livelihoods, and support sustainable development in CIL.

With the DSI seed grant my objective was to create an open data platform dedicated for the central Indian landscape (CIL) community, and to measure the effectiveness of such a platform in enhancing interdisciplinary research and international collaboration. This data need was identified through an anonymous survey in 2019 at our 3rd symposium. Lack of open data access was identified as one of the limiting factors by many, but mainly by students and NGOs. That’s when I decided to develop a data portal for this community. It was exciting because this project addresses two of the NSF Big Ideas: (1) “Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR)” by developing a research data infrastructure that will support current research need through visualization, data access, and creating innovative educational pathways for next-generation data scientists, and (2) “Growing Convergent Research” by facilitating basic research in physical sciences, biological sciences, and social and behavioral sciences.

In 2019, I recruited a UD undergraduate student (Justin Czech, since graduated) who was responsible for developing a simple and easily accessible data platform. The seed grant also paid for the domain. I just launched this data platform at the 4th Central Indian Landscape Symposium on January 30 (virtually). I am hoping the datasets currently hosted at the website (from my own work) would encourage the CIL community members to share their datasets more widely with the entire community, so that the policymakers can use up-to-date science to inform policies. Unlike the other existing large-scale data platforms, this website will address data needs of a targeted community of researchers and policymakers who work in this particular landscape in order to realize a focused conservation and development effort.

The CIL community and I are grateful for the DSI seed grant that made this platform possible.