Friday, 5 June 2015

ODIP: solving the 'patchwork data' problem

Oceans, and the processes within them, have no concept of international boundaries. The same can't be said for the way we manage the data collected in their study. To enable major scientific advances, oceanographic researchers need to get the most complete picture possible but existing oceanographic data are scattered in national and regional repositories.

Participants at the 4th ODIP workshop ©
The Ocean Data Interoperability Platform (ODIP) project aims to solve the accessibility problem by establishing a means of sharing and managing marine data seamlessly between the EU, USA and Australia. The ODIP approach is to develop interoperability between existing regional marine e-infrastructures to create a global framework for marine data management.
Over the past three years, data management experts from across the globe have been working together to develop prototypes to meet this interoperability goal. The 4th ODIP workshop was hosted by the British Oceanographic Data Centre (BODC) in Liverpool during April 2015 to discuss and share progress in key areas.
Central to interoperability is the NERC Vocabulary Server (NVS2.0) developed and maintained by BODC. It provides data managers with agreed, well-defined marine terms via controlled vocabularies and enables mappings to other vocabularies elsewhere. It addresses the problem of ambiguities associated with data markup and enables records to be interpreted by computer. This opens data up to a whole world of possibilities from computer-aided search, manipulation and federated distribution via Linked Data applications.
For more than ten years, the NERC Vocabulary Server has been used operationally by over 35 countries to support the EU SeaDataNet-2 programme (and its forerunners). NVS2.0 has set the standard for a service of its kind and has therefore been utilised within ODIP prototype 2 to underpin interoperability by linking the EU, US and Australian research cruise programmes, providing cruise information at an international level.
Roy Lowry, BODC Technical Consultant, "The meeting demonstrated how the NERC Vocabulary Server provides a solid foundation on which oceanographic Linked Data applications for the Semantic Web may be built. Seeing 25 years' work delivering such exciting results provides me with great satisfaction."
Such is the importance of interoperability, funding to continue the transcontinental ODIP collaboration for a further three years has been approved by the EU. Helen Glaves of the British Geological Survey, who is co-leading ODIP with Dick Schaap of MARIS BV, welcomed the extension: "ODIP has already succeeded in demonstrating a coordinated approach to the sharing of marine data on a global scale through the development of prototypes. This new funding will not only allow these prototypes to become fully operational, but will also enable us to widen the scope of the current project".
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