Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

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Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby HelenGlaves » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:29 pm

Dear All

Following on from the discussions in Garching, Washington and most recently the EUDAT meeting in Barcelona, a case statement for a RDA working group on marine data management is now being planned. Below I have included the orginal motivation for this proposed working group with the intention of promoting discussion to inform the process of developing the proposal for the marine data management working group.

The objective of this working group is to promote the development of a common global framework for the management of marine data. This has become a priority as ocean sciences are being becoming increasingly global in scope and there has been a paradigm shift in marine research from the traditional discipline based approach towards more multidsicplinary, ecosystem level research. This approach is necessary to address a number of phenomena both natural and man-made the impacts of which require researchers from a diverse range of disciplines to work together. A pre-requisite for this type of multidisciplinary research is the availability of large volumes of good quality interoperable data which can be easily located and accessed. Facilitating the re-use of marine data is therefore a priority as the need for datasets increases to support the development of this ecosystem based approach to marine research.

A significant barrier to this re-use of data currently exists due to the variety of different formats, standards, vocabularies etc. which have been used by the various organisations engaged with the collection and management of this data at a regional, national and international scale. To facilitate this re-use of marine data a common approach to marine data management needs to be developed which is underpinned by a robust operational infrastructure for the management and exchange of ocean and marine data. An ocean or marine “system of systems” needs to be built on existing systems and initiatives which is flexible enough to accommodate future developments. This should be based upon internationally agreed standards for data and metadata as well as technical and semantic aspects of interoperability.

These issues have already been recognised in some global regions and as a result advances are currently being made by initiatives in Europe, the USA and Australia to facilitate the discovery and access of marine data through the development, implementation, population and operation of national, regional or international distributed ocean and marine observing and data management infrastructures such as SeaDataNet, Geo-Seas, IOOS, the Australian Ocean Portal and the IODE Ocean Data Portal. All of these developments are resulting in the development and implementation of standards for the formats of metadata, data, data products, and common vocabularies at a regional level with little or no coordination between these initiatives. There is, however, a general trend towards the use of the basic ISO and OGC but these basic standards allow the use of different profiles and vocabularies and as a result there are fundamental differences in their implementation in different regions that hamper the exchange of marine data and therefore acts as a barrier to the development of a common global data management system and the implementation of a global infrastructures.

To ensure that the agreed common approaches, standards, best practice etc. are adopted as widely as possible there is a need for an active dialogue and agreement on the most appropriate standards that should be implemented. These agreed standards etc. can then be disseminated as widely as possible to promote participation by other regions and further develop this interoperability in the marine domain and beyond.

The ultimate goal is to develop a common approach to marine data management that will be promoted and adopted globally. This will require the implementation of agreed standards and best practice for management of marine data. The activities of the proposed Research Data Alliance working group would therefore focus on identification and adoption of the necessary standards and best practice required to underpin the development of this common approach to marine data management.

This would be achieved by:
    1) Review and assessment the state of the art with respect to current standards, formats, vocabularies and best practices currently in use for marine data management.

    2) Development of a consensus on those that are sufficiently mature and robust which can be adopted as the ‘community’ standards
    Promote the adoption of these ‘community’ standards

    3) Develop and disseminate documentation to support the use of these standards and best practice for the management of marine data
    Implement community forums to extend and modify these standards/best practices and to ensure engagement with stakeholders in the marine domain

    4) Implement community forums to extend and modify these standards/best practices and to ensure engagement with stakeholders in the marine domain.

These initial thoughts have been developed as a starting point for discussion. We would like everyone who has ideas, comments etc to contribute to the process of formulating the case statement for the marine data management working group via this forum.

We look forward to receiving your input!
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Re: Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby gmariani » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:23 pm

Dear Helen, All,
I'm Giacomo Mariani (, from CINECA (Italy), and I work in the iCORDI project as well as in EUDAT.

In iCORDI, as part of WP3, we are planning to build a prototype for exchanging data between two oceanographic communities: INGV-NEMO (Italy) and MBARI-MARS (USA).

As far as I can see from your post, in RDA you are more concerned by the formats of the data and their unification than by the technology for exchanging them.
In iCORDI, on the other side, we are more concerned by the technology. In particular, following EUDAT outcomes, we plain to use iRODS as the coretechnology.
Moreover, iRODS natively supports lots of scientific formats, such as HDF5 or the ones comprised in NETCDF[1], so could be of interest for you too, I suppose.

I think that some collaboration among us (perhaps RDA is already part of the "ICordi Ecosystem") could grant benefits for all the involved communities.
For example, once some community standards will be defined, we could promote their usage among the two communities involved and investigate their integrability (if not already present) in iRODS.

What do you think about this?


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Re: Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby KimFin » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:03 am

Hi Helen,

Roger Proctor (Australian Integrated Marine Observing System - IMOS) has made me aware of this forum. I think the idea of an RDA WG focussed on marine issues is good, but note that because 'marine' is thematic, rather than topical, this WG would likely be covering many of the topics that are the focus of other suggested WGs. Additionally, as you state, there is already a range of existing forums that have been established to cover many matters of potential interest, so this WG would perhaps need to focus on harmonising across these activities rather than establish yet another set of (standard) solutions to common problems and instead somehow bring together disparate discussions. I'm not sure though, how this can be best approached.

My interest in the RDA and this WG is one wearing my hat as Chair of the newly formed international Southern Ocean Observing System Data Management sub-committee. The Southern Ocean Observing System ( will need to pull together observations and measurements from existing programs as well as encompass data from new programs of activity. This shouldn't supplant existing discipline/instrument/platform-specific data exchange programs but leverage content from these to provide a holistic picture of the Southern Ocean data landscape. In that sense SOOS will provide a real-world use-case for both unearthing 'interoperability' issues as well as being a vehicle to develop/test best practise solutions, particularly for content-based issues. Roger's team have offered up the IMOS infrastructure as the back-bone to kick off the initiative - which is fantastic - but there are many hurdles to overcome, not the least to convince existing data exchange programs to publish/share their data through this infrastructure and in doing so tackle tricky 'content'-based interoperability problems that plague us all.

If this RDA WG can help deliver tangible outcomes for SOOS through providing an expert forum(s) for addressing the common 'interoperability' sticky points - I'd be happy to contribute.

Regards, Kim (Finney, Manager, Australian Antarctic Data Centre)
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Location: Kingston, Tasmania, Australia

Re: Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby fgenova » Tue Feb 05, 2013 3:10 pm

Dear Helen,

I am not a specialist of the field but I am a bit surprised by the way reference is made to IODE in the case statement. My understanding is that IODE is set up in the UNESCO context with global aims, not at the regional level. It would be interesting to clarify the interface between the proposed working group with respect to IODE and other global initiatives in the field if any.

Regards, Francoise Genova (Director of Strasbourg astronomical data centre)
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Re: Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby amaffei » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:54 pm

It looks like the Marine Data Working Group has a BOF scheduled from 1600-1700 the first day of the March Plenary -- March 18th (see here -- viewtopic.php?f=5&t=59). I'd be interested in knowing who else is planning to be at the plenary and attending this BOF. Perhaps we could plan to go out to dinner one night?
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Re: Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby HelenGlaves » Mon Mar 11, 2013 2:21 pm

For anyone interested in attending the Bof on maraine data management at the RDA meeting in Gothenburg, this has been rescheduled and will now take place during the 'official' sessions on Tuesday 19 March. The meeting will be at 18:00 – 19:00 on 19 March in the Radiovagen room.

If you plan to attend please could you indicate your interest.
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Re: Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby ngalbraith » Thu Mar 21, 2013 5:41 pm

For those of us who missed the meeting in Gothenburg, will there be some way for us to stay up to date with the proposed Marine Data Management WG? I'd love to know the direction this group is planning to take.
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Re: Marine Data Management: proposed RDA working group

Postby HermanStehouwer » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:12 pm

I assume that one could ask the people that organized the BoF.
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