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The “Sprint to Plenary”

-- Douglas Nebert, Task lead and point of contact for Task AR-09-01a, and Ivan DeLoatch, Co-chair, Architecture and Data Committee

frontview of five young sprinters arriving at the finishRecognizing the need to accelerate progress towards making more data and information readily available via GEOSS, the Architecture and Data Committee (ADC) has outlined an action plan for demonstrating dramatically improved access to priority Earth observation data in time for November’s GEO-VIII Plenary meeting. We are calling this effort the "Sprint to Plenary," so named after the rapid software development cycles known as ‘sprints.’

The Sprint to Plenary will:  

  • Create a priority list of GEOSS data, services and resources and support efforts to register them;
  • Develop a common vocabulary to describe these resources so that they can be easily searched through GEOSS;   
  • Enhance and simplify the registration and search procedures;
  • Demonstrate the availability of data with “full and open” access, identified as GEOSS Data-CORE (Collection of Open Resources for Everyone);
  • Assist key systems to provide their data using the agreed standards; and
  • Improve access to the data sets listed in the Earth observation catalogs already registered in GEOSS.  

Making significant, operational progress on these steps in the run-up to GEO-VIII will require a combined effort by participants from the Architecture and Data Committee, the GEOSS Common Infrastructure Coordination Team (GCI-CT), the GCI providers (portal, clearinghouse and registries), the Data Sharing Task Force, the GEO Secretariat, the team for Task AR-09-01a on Enabling Deployment of a GEOSS Architecture, the Architecture Implementation Pilot (AIP-4) team, and the other GEO Committees.

An ad-hoc Sprint to Plenary Coordination Forum has been established to ensure the necessary coordination of this effort. This group will monitor and facilitate communication among the various projects and activities. A Sprint to Plenary Implementation Team has also been created to design and deploy an integrated solution for searching and accessing GEOSS data and resources. The aim is not only to meet the short-term goal of demonstrating GEOSS to the Plenary but to simplify operational access to quality Earth observation data over the longer term.

What users want

The User Interface Committee has developed a priority set of critical Earth observations based on expert input from each of the Societal Benefit Areas; the resulting documents were presented to the GEO Plenary last November in Beijing. A table of “critical Earth observation parameters” of interest to five or more SBAs was also presented in Beijing and will be used to prioritize the data registration process.

The GEOSS Ontology Team under Task AR-09-01 has developed a harmonized vocabulary from these lists to assist users in finding data. This controlled vocabulary can be used both when browsing registered Earth observation resources and when composing more advanced searches.

User scenarios are under development to test and illustrate the new capabilities of GEOSS and the GCI during the coming months. These scenarios address real-world issues and applications and are being vetted by experts in particular subject matters. Scenarios under development include water-cycle management for Africa, global agricultural monitoring, earthquake vulnerability, air quality and aerosols, and habitat modeling.

Identifying and registering resources

The registration of Earth observation resources in the GCI is necessary to assert their affiliation with GEOSS and their adherence to the GEO data sharing principles. The registration process is being simplified, and an improved search function is being contributed by the EuroGEOSS project. This will support just-in-time searching of contributed Earth observation inventories, greatly increasing the amount of data that can be directly accessed.

Extra attention will be given to identifying, documenting, and registering high-value Earth observation data resources, with a special focus on supporting the most popular “critical Earth observation priorities.” High-value systems that do not currently support conventional or standard access interfaces will be assisted in establishing standard web services. In addition, data sets and web services will be linked to registered software “helper” applications. This is intended to assist users outside a given domain to explore and use data employing suitable software. Data resources that have been pledged as GEOSS Data-CORE will be highlighted.

In all cases, the main outcome of the Sprint to Plenary will be to provide more direct access to data. An effort will be made to encourage data and service providers to embed links to data search-and-access services that will deliver data to the end-user, rather than simply directing them to the existence of a system or website.  One overarching goal will be to realize the “fewest clicks to data” to support the broad and diverse use of GEO and the contributed GEOSS resources.