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11 Commandments of Data Protocol



by Jim Smith, LANDFIRE Project Lead 

DATA—we need it, but we curse it.  We use it, but we don’t really understand it.  We long for it, and then we complain about it.  I have spent more than 30 years of my post-scholastic working life in some form of the data business, from forest sampling to statistical modeling to remote sensing to GIS to databases. Based on that experience, I present



11 Commandments of Data Protocol


 Break these commandments at your peril!

  1. ​Thou shall not wait for perfect data or information, for it does not exist.

  2. Thou shall not confuse data “desires” with data “needs.”

  3. Thou shall not blame the data if you use it improperly.

  4. Thou shall not use data that you have not thoroughly reviewed for appropriateness.

  5. Thou shall not characterize the quality of an entire data set using a single metric.

  6. Thou shall not ignore the context of the application when considering data options.

  7. That shall not believe that free data is actually “free” in the long term.

  8. Thou shall not reject data for being inappropriate unless you know what appropriate data would actually be.

  9. Thou shall not expect to use other people’s data without correcting it for your local conditions or local needs.

  10. Thou shall not expect data to live forever.

  11. Thou shall not believe that your data is always more complete, more accurate and more useful than someone else’s.

Watch the "11 Commandments" LANDFIRE Video "Short" on YouTube.