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17 Oct 2014

Impressions of RDA Plenary 4 and minutes of the Geospatial IG meeting

Impressions of RDA Plenary 4

Having attended the third plenary held at Dublin in March 2014, I was delighted to have been more actively involved in the fourth plenary via the Early Career Programme. I also had to chance to attend the EUDAT conference, which was held in the same venue and immediately followed the plenary.

This plenary’s theme was “reaping the fruits” in which the work conducted by the different working groups were presented or demonstrated in their respective interest groups. With so many interesting meetings happening at the same time, one was bound to miss out on some interesting outcomes. Luckily, I was here with some colleagues and we reported each other on the meetings we attended.

This plenary welcomed excellent speakers. I was particularly captivated by Prof. Borgman’s keynote entitled “Data, Data, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink.” This prompted me to have a look at the courses and course content she created for creating and managing research data. I am very much looking forward to her book on this subject.

I furthermore took part in meetings around Preservation e-infrastructures, geospatial data, big data analytics and the science streams. As part of the early career programme, I was assigned to task to take minutes and report on the Geospatial IG meeting (which can be found below) as well as to present a poster. I choose to present the RTÉ Content Discovery project ( in which I am involved.

Minutes of the Geospatial IG meeting

This section of the blog article presents the minutes of the Geospatial Interest Group’s meeting held in Amsterdam on the 22nd of September from 13:30 to 15:00 at RDA’s 4th plenary meeting. The meeting attracted more than 25 participants with diverse backgrounds during which five presentations – including the introduction by the chair – were given, followed by a Q&A.

A quick introduction by all participants in the room showed that people came to the IG’s meeting sparked by their own particular interests; some of the participants develop file systems or software systems for geospatial data where others are using such data. The combination of temporal and spatial data was mentioned four times, and five of the participants explicitly mentioned their interest of geospatial data for marine or environmental purposes.

Before starting the meeting, Suchith Anand presented the agenda and forwarded Gary Berg-Cross’ apologies for not making it to the meeting. Suchith started the meeting with conveying the message that open geospatial science is key for innovation in GIS and therefore one must strive for open standards, open data, and open software. The IG aims to contribute in reaching that goal. The groups came into existing after a BoF held in Dublin during the third plenary meeting in March 2014 by Simon Cox. Six months have passed, and until now the group managed to create a group on the RDA website; coordinate several activities (e.g., with respect to the reuse across domains or sharing policies); updated the case statement. It is worthy to note that the group has over 50 members and many people are willing to join the initiative on working on a joint paper. Suchith ended the meeting by asking the question what the future of geo data is and the importance to (i) identify key geo data issues, solutions and (non-)technical challenges as well as (ii) train students in using geo data.

The floor was then given to Phil Archer from W3C who reported on work conducted to harmonize OGC and W3C standards; quite a few commonalities were identified in the two standards during a workshop in which the two bodies were involved. A charter has been created that looks great, but is still open for review. The working group is having some difficulties mainly due to the member-ship model adopted by both organizations, but Phil hopes this to be solved by mid-October as to have the working group start in November.

Chris Pettit then reported on the work conducted by the Urban Quality of Life Indicators Working Group who aim to crate comparable, open and interoperable indicators. At the moment, they aim to interact with other working groups as well as OSG. The discussions they held were on the alignment with standards, the creation of mappings between indicators and those standards, and the creation of an indicator ontology. They currently investigate case study cities to select as well. The university of Groningen expressed their interest in this project.

Andrea Perego reported on the INSPIRE and Geo Data projects in the EU. Relationships with public administrations were created and synergies in other working groups are aimed for. A conference in the context of the INSPIRE project lead to some interesting conclusions. One is the complexity of implementing the legal and technical framework provided by INSPIRE in 28 members states. Another observation is the tension field between usability and usefulness of the data models; stakeholders expressed access to data with different layers of complexity depending on the use case. INSPIRE is now working on regulations at a European level as well as one a European and pan-European open data portal. At this moment, Suchith makes a point about funding; to talk about opportunities after the session. In short, the challenges identified by Andrea were: interoperability, usability and sustainability. Work is currently conducted on Authentication, authorization and accounting (or AAA); licensing schemes and data sharing; adoption of RDF and PIDs; … To this end, the WG will look into the outcome of relevant working groups. After this presentation, two important comments were made. The first, on the use of structured data and semantic technologies, one remarked that the scientific community culture does not want to add structured data in Web pages as there is no direct gain (e.g., citation). The second comment was on education, which needs to change to include geo data to create data specialists.

Finally, Peter Bauman presented recent progress in geo standardization. The presentation started off by noting that, albeit being a standard, ISO 19123 provides an abstract model and no implementation model, the latter being covered by OGC GMLCOV. Both ISO and OGC wish to revise the standard to take into account a concrete implementation model. Progress in OGC includes time and index CRSs and a CRUD model for data so data can be propagated. Peter provided examples of four-dimensional time series and weather groups and the feasibility that is demonstrated with huge amounts of data of a couple of years ago with data of increasing complexity. INSPIRE coverage model has been harmonized with OGC GMLCOV and coverage data and services are going to ISO for standardization. He then presented work done on the inclusion of arrays in SQL for adding and querying images in databases, followed by an example of a query and noting that this implantation works faster than similar queries using RDF and SPARQL after this question was raised. Finally, the noted that user oriented services – interfaces that make it easier for end-users – is something that needs to be focused on.

The meeting closes with Peter Baumann suggesting structuring the paper – which the IG is currently working on – according to different models (enterprise model, information model, …) which not only provides a logical framework, but also allows the authors to focus on their expertise and section. Finally, Suchith invites all to network and discuss funding opportunities, to which Phil Archer notes that W3C is also able to be involved in EU projects as well.

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