Adaptation Space Services
From Core Services
Our knowledge management service, the Adaptation Space, will enable and provide access to the foremost climate adaptation resources on the Internet and become a catalyst for building extensive professional communities of practitioners and experts. The Adaptation Space will provide our Clients with expert insight into the effects of climate change on their citizens, environments and businesses, and assistance to develop sustainable adaptation solutions to meet their unique climate change challenges.
The Adaptation Space is proprietary, with GCAP being responsible for the overall database and to identify leading knowledge partners. GCAP plans to expand the functionality of its service offering by increasing the number of service contracts to organizations throughout the world, particularly for professional certification (through the Adaptation Academy) and services such as a fast-track advisory service.
The Adaptation Space is based on several key principles, which will lead to a specific design features. We are currently in the early days of creating the stream of knowledge management services that will be in demand from our clients. The African Development Bank is the first client that will use components of the Adaptation Space. The seven key principles of the Adaptation Space are:
- Web platforms must be people-driven initiatives. Real encounters are essential in social networks that are active in advancing and sharing knowledge. Web-based tools are one component of a wider information strategy and never the sufficient answer to building capacity.
- Our services are based on the real needs of clients.
- We routinely run user labs on existing portals and our own designs to ensure that the services are appropriate to the users needs.
- People already participate in vast webs of information. One more platform, another vulnerability index, a new ‘linked-in’ will make little difference on its own.
- A web service must sit within this existing information world: search engine optimisation is a traditional technique to ensure users find what’s available without going through each portal’s menu.
- The semantic web approach of users ‘pulling’ information to their needs is a key design feature for the next generation of services.
- Organisations must partner to create enduring communities of practice, while maintaining their own reputations, supporting their own constituencies and achieving their missions. Adaptation has many ‘entry points’ and each will interpret their needs for adaptation information, planning and experience according to their own missions and capabilities.
- The Adaptation Space is designed to link seamlessly with a variety of entry points. In the early stages, this is likely to be through a web-ring of trusted partners. As linked data formats become more common, it can be extended to a broader information strategy. Each partner retains their own branding and is responsible for quality assurance of their contributions.
- Ensuring answers are relevant to users’ questions requires a translation from data and information to knowledge and wisdom. Most portals we monitor are dominated by providing data. Few provide sufficient information for users to judge the quality of that data, and some of the climate adaptation information publicly available has serious flaws. No site that we’ve seen matches the user’s needs to the data available with an understanding of the role of uncertainty in a variety of decision contexts.
- Our focus on use cases is a formal means of ensuring that the information provided is fit for the purpose intended by the user.
- We are working on simple tools to help users define their needs in ways that improve their search strategy. However, this is still a complicated area in information technology. Several shortcuts are proposed as first steps.
- Distributed communities of practice have particular requirements for information, ways of acquiring reliable advice and standards for quality assurance.
- Users should be encouraged to find information through their customary modes, whether their organization's portal, a trusted web site or through ad-hoc searches.
- Information should be ‘pulled’ by users to their desktops rather than pushed indiscriminately. This semantic web approach enables users to build profiles that bring information to whatever portal they prefer, even if just iGoogle and similar aggregators.
- The current information on climate adaptation is only a beginning. Vast climate data sets are in the works (not least the IPCC AR5 models at the regional scale). Better understanding of planning issues, economics of adaptation and criteria for success is well advanced. Services need to be ready to scale up and reach a critical mass in order to be effective.
- Partners in a web-ring are specialists in their domains, and keep their information up to date. Our services are designed to pull this latest material to the user rather than duplicate such data sets, which are quickly out of date. As an example, GCAP has an agreement with the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town to link their Climate Information Portal to our knowledge management services.
- Professional approaches to climate adaptation web services are required to ensure sustainability and suitability. Web services require sustained support beyond the individual programmer or support generally available through small research and applications groups.
- GCAP has established a partnership with iSPACE, a professional software development company based in Los Angeles and Hyderabad, India to develop the Adaptation Space. iSpace is fully certified and brings a wealth of experience in secure web services and client-oriented applications. Our development team at iSPACE specializes in Java (cross-platform capability), data mining and visualization, and user interfaces. The team includes a Quality Assurance specialist that certifies the software complies with the use cases established in the design phase.