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GEO 2017-2019 Work Programme


User Needs and Gap Analysis

Activity ID: 137


Establish a comprehensive overview of user needs and observational requirements and carry out gap analyses to identify gaps in observations and derived products meeting these requirements and needs. The Societal Benefit Areas (SBAs) will provide the framework to perform this task by engaging a wide range of stakeholders from end-users to data providers in different domains, different regions, and different roles. The task has two key objectives:

  • Implement a structured approach to identifying user needs and to translate these needs into requirements for observations and services and apply this approach to the GEO SBAs. Carry out regular, systematic analysis of the resulting global and regional observational requirements to identify, document, prioritize and close gaps in the information value chain. Publicize gap analysis and the need to close them; and
  • Document the results of the process using a tool to store and disseminate the user needs and gap analyses; the tool is a comprehensive interdisciplinary knowledge base defining and documenting observations needed for all disciplines. This will allow sharing not just data but also how these data can be used to address key policy or scientific question, and link also to the community of users addressing similar problems.

The proposed approach builds on the lessons learned from past experiences having comparable, global objectives (such as IGOS-P, the former GEO Tasks US-06-1a and US-09-01, the development of the GEOSS User Requirements Registry, and WMO’s development of OSCAR database) and has provisions to coordinate with, and incorporate results from, similar processes that are on-going at global and regional levels. A substantial contribution will also come from the GEO Initiatives and Flagships.

The process would also leverage the existing Communities of Practices and be constructed in such a way to facilitate the consolidation of new ones.

It is proposed to implement a phased approach, first demonstrating suitability and feasibility of the SBA-by-SBA process and then progressively moving to a more articulated process addressing the full scope of the GEO Strategic Plan provisions.

Once in place and running the process is also expected to provide other key outputs such as constituting the “reference platform” for SBAs communities to work and to engage users.

The knowledge base tool will document the relations between the user needs and the data and processes (models, workflows, algorithms) needed to develop the information meeting these user needs.

In coordination with the existing and developing functionality of the GCI, the functionality of the knowledge base will support the GEOSS infrastructure in facilitating availability and accessibility of the observations to user communities. The knowledge base will include the rules for deriving the observational needs from user information needs, addressing a wide range of environmental and socio-economic information needs. Of particular interest are those information needs that are linked to indicators supporting the advocacy and monitoring of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rules will be included to define the observation needs for these indicators.

The GEO Knowledge Base will be developed as a community-based open source tool and will leverage as far as possible existing repositories and databases and documenting what is being developed in association with GEO activities. It will include user feedback with respect to the identified user needs, the gap analysis results, and the fitness for purpose of both data and processes.

The task will be coordinated by the GEO Secretariat.

The Secretariat will activate the SBA-related processes, building on the activities of the communities that are already active within each SBA and progressively covering the totality of the SBAs.

A dedicated Team will develop the tool to document and make accessible the results of this process (the knowledge base).

Activities for the period


  • Issue a document describing the SBA user needs process and how it will be implemented (based on the report of a dedicated Working Group to be issued in 2016);
  • Activate the SBA-by-SBA process. Initial recommendations from the group indicate the Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture and Sustainable Urban Development as the preferred candidates with which to start;
  • Continue the analysis of user needs related to the SDG indicators;
  • Start the compilation of available knowledge resources;
  • Continue the design and finalize the development of the prototype the knowledge base; and
  • Convene GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder (GSTS) Workshops to support the collection of user needs, gap analysis and prioritization.


Continue the SBA process and operationalize the knowledge base. Interact with the GEO initiatives and activities that support the Agenda 2030 to ensure the best possible service for these groups. Convene additional GSTS Workshop as needed.

Future Plans

Rolling process


GEO Trust Fund (Secretariat Staff)

In kind resources (leads and contributors)


Overall coordination and the SBA users process

GEO Secretariat

Knowledge Base tool development

Hans Peter Plag, IEEE -

Stefano Nativi, CNR Italy -


GEO SBA Initiatives and Activities

GEO Communities of Practice

The GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Network

Secretariat Support

Foster the participation of key stakeholders to the agreed activities, foster their engagement and the exchange among them and create the relevant linkages to GEO activities (Community, Initiatives and Flagships).

Ensure dialogue between the community developing the knowledge base and the GCI Team with the goal of developing solutions to make knowledge available through the Portal.

Giovanni Rum, (GEO Secretariat) -

Leadership & Contributors (this list is being populated)

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