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Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic

Project Description
Short Title: ELOKA
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ELOKA (the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic) is envisioned as a data management service and circumpolar network for IPY 2007-2008 and beyond; its main purpose is to support and connect local and traditional knowledge projects and community-based research and monitoring programs around the North. ELOKA will be a central data portal, data management service, networking service, and resource center related to the knowledge and observations of Arctic residents. In setting up these pioneer goals, ELOKA will make a major contribution to one of the IPY 2007-2008 missions, namely, to bridge scientific studies of polar environments with the observations and ecological knowledge of polar residents. ELOKA will be an important tool in facilitating contributions from, and access by, Arctic communities to IPY research and future Arctic research.

One of the challenges of local and traditional knowledge (LTK) research and community-based monitoring to date has been effective and appropriate means of recording, storing, and managing data and information. It has been a challenge to find effective means of making community-based data and information available to Arctic residents and researchers, as well as other interested groups such as teachers, students and decision makers. ELOKA seeks to fill this gap. ELOKA will have a strong emphasis on serving Arctic community-based organizations and research through support for local and traditional knowledge projects and community-based monitoring projects by developing new management systems for data in non-numerical formats such as video, audio, maps, artwork, and photographs, and context-specific data such as interview transcripts and recorded oral histories. In ELOKA, data management does not mean data control. ELOKA will be a collaboratively designed tool that various organizations, communities, and projects can use under their own terms to help them store, search and share information. ELOKA will help LTK and community-based projects store and manage their data if that is their need, or simply provide links to those projects that are managing their own information. At the same time, ELOKA will help to negotiate and establish protocols so information is comparable across projects and regions (e.g. work to develop common approaches to metadata). ELOKA will take up the challenge to design systems of data stewardship that will respect the unique sensitivities and protections needed in community-based projects, while still allowing for broad searches for information.

The World Data Center for Glaciology (WDC) and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in the U.S. propose to coordinate ELOKA. Drawing from and building upon existing data management resources and experienced staff that already handle diverse sources and forms of information, WDC/NSIDC will provide the technical backbone needed for ELOKA. With the technical component available to build on, ELOKA then proposes to collaborate with projects and organizations such as the Arctic Residents Network (ARN), Arctic Community-Based Environmental Monitoring Observation and Information Stations, and CAFF's (Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna) CBMP (Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program), to work on issues of best practices and cross-community collaboration. ELOKA will work closely with the proposed IPY Data and Information Service (DIS) and with indigenous organizations at all levels, such as RAIPON (Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North) and ICC-Greenland (Inuit Circumpolar Conference-Greenland). ELOKA would be part of broader consortiums for Arctic observation and monitoring by providing an LTK focus for such as programs as COMAAR (Consortium for Coordination of Observation and Monitoring of the Arctic for Assessment and Research), the above-mentioned CBMP, and CEON (Circumarctic Environmental Observatories Network). We have partnered with a number of LTK and community-based projects (see 4.2) to initiate the development of ELOKA and will continue to build partnerships with community-based programs, organizations and networks during IPY and beyond. Feedback from the individual projects and organizations contributing and using information at ELOKA will be a key part to the development process. Many community-based projects not submitting proposals to IPY are also interested in ELOKA some of these are listed in 4.2. We expect our partner list to grow in coming months.
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