Adding clarity to NSIDC data support with new Level of Service (LoS) model

With over 1,100 data sets archived and distributed through the National Snow and Ice Data Center, it is expected that not all data sets and associated documentation are created equal. Some data are part of a larger, continuously-funded long-term mission producing global climate data records, while others are small-scale or one-time efforts targeted for initial satellite validation studies. This broad spectrum of data purposes, communities, and funding sources leads to varying levels of service (LoS) provided by NSIDC. In order to directly communicate the designated LoS for our data, NSIDC has begun offering a new, user-facing level of service info-graphic and supporting text to accompany each data set landing page. There are three main categorical levels of service: Basic, Standard, and Comprehensive (Figure 1).

NSIDC Levels of Service

Figure 1. NSIDC Level of Service Model. (click for high-resolution)

The gauge icon corresponding to the LoS assigned to each data set will be found on the right-hand side of the data set landing page content, just below the map displaying the geographic extent of the data set collection (Figure 2.) Hovering your computer’s cursor over the symbol will bring up text relating to the specific LoS, and choosing to read more from the hover text will redirect to a full description, as seen in Figure 1. Each LoS designation includes services for data integrity (including data verification and metadata quality), documentation (whether or not a user guide is available as well as details on the content provided within the guide), and user support (the types of assistance and guidance available to users).

Figure 2. Placement of the Level of Service Icon within NSIDC dataset landing pages.

Figure 2. Placement of the Level of Service Icon within NSIDC dataset landing page. (click for high-resolution

One of the key goals of the LoS model is to allow data set authors to expedite the publication of their work, while at the same time leading to sustainment and scalability of the service provided to users. In the case of funding agencies requiring data to reach the community under strict time constraints, the LoS model now allows NSIDC to publish data sets in an ‘early release state’. In such cases, the gauge symbol will be accompanied by an asterisk, indicating the early release of the data and increased level of service in the future.

In rare cases, no support will be provided for a data set as in the case of data delivered to NSIDC for archival purposes only, or if we broker (e.g. redirect to an external data provider) a particular resource. NSIDC will always strive to provide the highest level of service based on the data set’s value to the community.

Currently, only a handful of data sets display the designated LoS, however NSIDC is continuing to identify and display LoS for many more data sets in the coming months. If you wish to provide any feedback on our LoS release, please send your message to the User Services Office by addressing your message to nsidc@nsidc.org.