User engagement, together with capacity building and training, is a way to reach a broader water community. Earth observations make significant contributions to improved decision-making, although their role varies with the time scale of the decisions involved. Information is needed to support day-to-day operational decisions on how to manage water flows and to support multi-decade plans for water infrastructure. Efforts are under way to map the decision process and to determine the contributions that Earth observations could provide, and user engagement provides important input for such studies. Also, applying Earth observations to improve their decisions and realizing the benefits of observations will increase users' confidence.
A way to obtain users’ (or consumers’) views is to establish a process that engages them in the cogeneration of new products and services through on-going dialogue regarding needs, opportunities, and product evaluation. Greater engagement with users will focus the efforts involved in the development of new services. Services will be based on specific societal requirements and will be able to be assessed against criteria such as (1) providing the largest benefits for the largest number of users, or (2), in the case of specific groups of users, satisfying specialized requirements and achieving the goals of the user group. The users would help assess the value of different proposed services. This approach could also be used to promote a strengthened interaction between providers (in both the private and public sectors) that deliver the product or service and the research and development groups that design and test the products and services.
Partnerships would be emphasized because users, service providers and researchers would play an important role in the delivery of the actual products and services and would form an umbrella under which different groups who may be “competing” at one level could come together to collaborate and advance their common interests. This structure would also accommodate private-public partnerships. User engagement and product assessment are central activities in Citclops and this website describes platforms that could be the basis for this type of development. Examples of user engagement in Citclops are Coastwatch Ireland and Catalonia campaigns and sea educational programs of El Far Consortium.
To facilitate the development of water information services, several principles will be followed, including the use of open business models within which value would be created by systematically collaborating with outside partners. A taxonomy for user types, which emphasizes the use of the data rather than the user’s particular job, will be provided by Citclops and could enable data providers to relate use to a specific data product or source. Within Citclops, the focus of activities is aimed at developing platforms for products and accessing key resources to populate the platforms. The platforms will provide a wide range of tools, including software, data and data product access, brokers for data discovery and networks, as well as access to experts with knowledge about potential applications. The public and private sectors are encouraged to exploit these platforms to develop personalized services in accordance with principles to be worked out by Citclops for public-private interactions. In these cases, the benefits from the co-production of knowledge would be shared by the producer, the developer and the platform operator.