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European Direction in GEOSS Common Infrastructure Enhancements

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EDGE (European Direction in GEOSS Common Infrastructure Enhancements)

Reporting period: 2018-10-01 to 2020-05-31

The Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) is implemented by the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) as a system for sharing open Earth observation resources, to improve their availability, access and use for a sustainable planet.
Enabling the connection of many systems and services, the GEOSS Platform is the technological core of GEOSS.
The ESA coordinated H2020 co-funded project EDGE is a European contribution to GEOSS, with the aim to enhance GEOSS by evolving the ESA operated GEOSS Portal and the CNR operated GEO Discovery and Access Broker (GEO DAB).
At the end of the first 10-year period of GEO, in 2015, despite the recognized advancement in terms of data interoperability, the platform still suffered from a data-centric nature, which sometimes alienated the users. EDGE adopted a user-centric approach, in line with the GEO strategy for the period 2016-2025, engaging relevant user communities from GEO, EC ESA and other relevant initiatives, delivering tailored solutions and advocating the benefits of connecting to GEOSS.
To this purpose, EDGE:
• Evolved the operational platform (geoportal.org) in terms of data discovery and access capabilities, look&feel, customizability and reusability;
• Experimented the potential of GEOSS at large supporting decision makers in taking well-informed decisions providing capabilities not only to handle but as well to understand data and derive knowledge.
EDGE liaised with a large set of different communities, addressing 40 scenarios, developing and promoting solutions, including Community Portals accessible through the GEOSS Portal, responding to real user needs. It directly and regularly involved users and other stakeholders on an iterative basis, in capturing requirements and evaluating developed enhancements (agile approach). This way, EDGE ensured a better response to user needs, improved the user experience, served a comprehensive community of users, and raise further interest in and awareness of GEOSS.
Communities covering ten thematic areas (which include the GEO engagement areas) have adopted the GEOSS Platform solutions. GEO Flagships (GOS4M, Sen2Agri), GEO Initiatives (GEO Essential, GEO-GNOME, GTN-H), GEO Community activities (Envidat, AtlantOS), Copernicus Services, ESA Exploitation Platforms, Regional GEO’s (AmeriGEO, EuroGEO, DBAR/AOGEO), EC H2020 projects, ERA-PLANET activities and various other communities contributed to the user requirements and acted as evaluators of the developed solutions.
Figure 1 summarizes the uses cases of which 29 were input to the operational platform and 11 were input to proof of concepts that were validated on the development platform. The latter are available for demonstration and input to discussions for evolution of GEOSS in relevant GEO tasks.
EDGE has focused on the following system capabilities in response to the use cases:
• Resources (data, information, services) discovery and access with linked information (relationships) – e.g. searching for an SDG Goal, users can navigate to information regarding the related targets and indicators and, for each indicator, access and inspect the services that enable their computation and the official value provided by the UN Statistics Division;
• Service Execution - several examples of value-added products generation and sharing were developed (e.g. execution of workflows defined by the ECOpotential project), exploiting different computing platforms (including Copernicus DIASs);
• Resources Registration, with the capability to add information and relationships regarding resources;
• Promotion and collaboration, through the implementation of user feedback mechanisms and techniques to increase understanding and trust;
• Analytical comparison of given variables from different sources (e.g. comparison of SDG indicators computed via the Platform with the official values provided by the UNSD) or over time;
• Enabling reuse and customization of discovery and access capabilities via Widgets, Mirror Sites, APIs and Views (SWOS, Space4Water, Atlantos, GEO-GNOME and many others).
EDGE has embraced the vision of a result-oriented GEOSS experimenting solutions in support of knowledge acquisition to benefit end users as input, and considering inputs from, the GEOSec and the GEOSS Infrastructure Development Task Team (GIDTT) for further evolution of GEOSS at large.
The EDGE project results, accessible through the operational and the development portal, have been disseminated through presentations, demonstrations and exhibitions in relevant events, e.g. GEO Week 2018 exhibition; EGU General Assembly 2019; ERA-PLANET VLab Workshop; GEO Data Technology Workshop; ECOPOTENTIAL General Assembly; EuroGEOSS Workshop; GEO Week 2019 and many other online events.
The EDGE enhanced GEOSS Platform has an impact on the accessibility and use of EO data, hindered by difficulties deriving from their volume, variety, complexity, heterogeneity, lack of information. It provides advanced harmonized discovery and access functionalities, brokers new data sources, supports new communication protocols in the operational platform. The proofs of concepts implemented in the development platform, demonstrate capabilities to support data processing interfacing computing resources in a multi-cloud environment, facilitating use of big EO data for generating and sharing higher-level information and deriving knowledge.
The modular design approach enables the reuse of components and the uptake of offered functionalities by diverse user communities. The high number of initiatives that have shown interest, integrate or exploit the Platform solutions encourages to continue with current approach. It also is an indication that there is increased awareness of the potential of the evolved Platform.
EDGE has an impact on several thematic areas, including the GEO Engagement Priorities, thanks to the close relationship with the communities, which allowed to understand their real needs ensuring that the developed solutions are in line or exceed their expectations.
In particular, EDGE addressed: a) the UN SDGs by prototyping discovery, access and generation of SDG indicators through open EO data and models, thus enabling decision makers to gain knowledge about how their country performs with respect to the various indicators; b) Paris Agreement on Climate Change with specific search capabilities based on the GCOS Essential Climate Variables, which are fundamental in facing climate change challenges and c) the Sendai Framework on DRR by providing decision makers with specific features for disaster assessment.
However, the flexibility of the platform makes it suited to cater for the data and services needs of a variety of societal benefit areas.
Moreover, it is relevant remarking that the enhanced GEOSS Platform, by supporting the full data value chain from data to information and from information to knowledge, has an impact on a variety of stakeholder categories: data providers, information producers and the whole spectrum of final consumers from researchers, to citizens to decision and policy makers. The prototypes for knowledge management demonstrate an advancement beyond the state-of-the-art to power global research and to address the needs of scientists and modelers, facilitating discovery, collaboration and generation of knowledge for evidence-based decision-making.
EDGE addressed real-life use cases from different thematic areas covering GEO, EC, ESA