Collaborative Research: ELOKA Phase IV: Optimizing Data Management Support for Community-Based Research and Observations Contributing to Arctic Science
The mission of the Exchange for Local Observations and Knowledge of the Arctic (ELOKA) is to provide data management and user support services to facilitate the collection, preservation, exchange, and use of local observations and knowledge of the Arctic. Collecting, documenting, preserving, and sharing knowledge is a cooperative endeavor, and there is an urgent need to manage Local and Traditional Knowledge so that: (1) the information is not lost, but rather protected and preserved; (2) the information is discoverable, and (3) the information has influence on environmental research, policy, and public awareness. Local and traditional knowledge and community-based observations are critical components of Arctic science, a comprehensive Arctic observing network, and informed management and policy. Numerous studies and operational projects clearly demonstrate the value of community data in understanding recent environmental, social, and cultural changes in the Arctic based on knowledge and observations that are not readily available through scientific methods. Examples of this knowledge are fine-scale observations of change from areas not monitored, and knowledge from areas that pre-date mapping and satellite records. ELOKA’s research and products result in lasting broader impacts, including making community data available to support research in a number of areas including social sciences, health research, environmental science, adaptation studies, and others and supporting environmental and wildlife management. The focus on user-friendly interfaces will allow the general public to easily access community data, increasing public knowledge and literacy of Arctic Indigenous peoples, science and the environment; one example are projects that support Indigenous language and cultural preservation and maintenance. Publications and the education and training activities will result in improved Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training and education while supporting Indigenous peoples, an underrepresented minority in STEM. ELOKA has and will continue to focus on partnerships between academia and other sectors including Indigenous organizations and science and observing coordination bodies. In its fourth phase, ELOKA project will achieve three primary objectives in collaboration with researchers and Arctic Indigenous communities, including, (1) Provide and optimize core services, including advising on ethical community data management, documenting and publishing data, making data discoverable, further developing a data management platform that can be used to support many different applications, and preserving data over the long-term; (2) Build local capacity and leadership: Building on its network development activities, ELOKA will focus on knowledge exchange and capacity building to support communities, researchers, and other to play a larger role in populating and maintaining the system over time, and (3) Fully enable interoperability: Further develop a system that can interact with different data resources, across information and knowledge domains, and across key geographic scales. ELOKA fills a critical gap in Arctic science by providing support and infrastructure to community-based research projects that are often mandated to make data discoverable and accessible, but have limited options for support.