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Community Organizations Center for International Earth Science Information Network
Center for International Earth Science Information Network
Center for International Earth Science Information Network
University or Research Institution


CIESIN’s mission is to provide access to and enhance the use of information worldwide, advancing understanding of human interactions in the environment and serving the needs of science and public and private decision making.

The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN) was established in 1989 as an independent non-governmental organization to provide information that would help scientists, decision-makers, and the public better understand the changing relationship between human beings and the environment. In 1998, CIESIN became a center within the Columbia University Earth Institute. From its offices at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory campus in Palisades, New York, CIESIN continues to focus on applying state-of-the-art information technology to pressing interdisciplinary data, information, and research problems related to human interactions in the environment.

CIESIN has a diverse and multi-disciplinary staff, including experts in:

  • Computer science
  • Information and library sciences
  • Demography and public health
  • Political science and international affairs
  • History
  • Urban affairs
  • Natural resource management and ecology

CIESIN staff are proficient in:

  • Software development
  • Web and media design
  • Systems integration
  • Geographic information systems (GIS)
  • Remote sensing
  • Digital archiving
  • Metadata and information management
  • Database design
  • Interdisciplinary global environmental change research

CIESIN was one of the first organizations involved in developing and providing interactive data access and mapping tools via the Internet. Given the great diversity of scientific data and information resources now available, CIESIN continues to implement innovative approaches to data identification, access, visualization, and analysis across distributed data systems. This includes efforts to develop global and regional information systems, create innovative decision-support tools, and provide training and technical support services.

The careful integration of natural and social science data and information is increasingly recognized as vital to scientific research and societal decision making related to a wide range of pressing environmental issues. CIESIN continues to pursue new initiatives in this area and to build strong partnerships with national and international organizations in areas such as biodiversity, environment and security, environmental sustainability, population-environment research, global mapping and database development, remote-sensing applications, and the human dimensions of global environmental change.

CIESIN supports both the research and teaching missions of Columbia University. Its innovative application of information technology and ability to support operational data management services over the Internet, serve as a valuable complement to traditional University-based research and education in the natural and social sciences and to professional disciplines such as public policy and public health. In addition, as manager of the University’s GIS site license, CIESIN staff holds regular GIS training sessions for students and scientists throughout the University. CIESIN staff also teach in a number of departments at Columbia.



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