Developing concept paper on EO infrastructure

September 1st, 2014, Published in Articles: PositionIT


The South African Group on Earth Observations (SA-GEO) Secretariat, an initiative of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the intergovernmental GEO umbrella, recently convened the third EO Infrastructure Community of Practice (CoP) meeting. The EO Infrastructure CoP set out to discuss the development of a concept paper on EO Infrastructure, get an update on the current state of EO Infrastructure, and comment on a GEO (international) document on data sharing managing principles.


Terry Newby, NEOSS manager, facilitated the meeting which set out to prepare a concept paper to be submitted to the DST. A previous meeting had already focused on a mid-long term view that described/defined the different roles of stakeholders, drawing a distinction between infrastructure, big data processing and users.

In the discussion of the concept paper it was decided the documents should be aligned with GEO international, and address issues of cost and maintenance. There was also a call for collaboration with other key players. It was also agreed that the EO environment (providers and users) requirements should form the foundation, and that the boundaries of this portal should be described. The actual architecture, sustainability, contracting and responsibilities, defining of the services, and defining providers and users, as well as the role of each, should also to be included in the draft document.  Barriers that were identified pertained to matters of regulation (spatial data might be legislated, but EO is not yet), getting the document turned into a mandate, and the disconnection between intergovernmental structures.

In the update session it was reported that the SAEOS portal is working, but that funding remains an issue. A funding request has been issued to DST, and NEOSS’s current budget has been extended until March 2015. Furthermore, not all the data in SAEOS is discoverable, and the terms of agreement is also an issue, as the data submitted is done so voluntarily. There is also no helpdesk to answer user queries.

Lastly, an executive committee draft document on data management principles was distributed for feedback to the international GEO body. The summarised document outlines eleven key points that address issues of discoverability, accessibility, usability, preservation, and curation of EO data. The inclusion of a sustainability aspect was suggested, as well as the inclusion of metadata to include the algorithms of processes performed on the data for traceability.

The next SA-GEO EOI CoP meeting has been scheduled for February next year.

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