5 open review comments to “Ocean Data Portal: a standards approach to data access and dissemination”
The Ocean Data Portal (ODP) is an excellent overall entry point to oceanographic data in general. A mention of the Global Observing Systems Information Center (GOSIC) at http://gosic.org in the whitepaper would be something to possibly consider in this whitepaper as the GOSIC portal complements the ODP by providing a specific and unique focus on access to observing datasets, metadata, and information (including GOOS data), with a particular emphasis on ocean climate data. A mention of the possible cooperation and coordination between the ODP and the GOSIC would go a long way towards enhancing the ability of the global ocean observing user community to get access to critical datasets and related information. Furthermore, the GOSIC Portal is a registered component of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS) and opens access to a wider audience of people who are interested in ocean data. Finally, the GOSIC is endorsed by GOOS as a data access point for GOOS data.
Thanks for your consideration here.
U.S. Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Program Manager
NOAA/National Climatic Data Center
As I’m sure you know the IT white papers submitted for OceanObs 09 all share the difficult challenge of describing highly technical material in non-technical language. Too much detail and the paper becomes unintelligible to the science audience that the paper wants to reach. Too much simplification and there is a risk of giving a false sense of simplicity about complex problems. In my opinion this paper, “Ocean Data Portal: a standards approach to data access and dissemination”, strays too far towards simplification. I would like to see it directly address some complex realities of data management that it currently side-steps. Examples of this are:
* The notion of a single portal for access to widely distributed data has proven to be problematic for what are essentially “social” reasons. Namely that the visibility of participating organizations is often perceived to be reduced when its data are accessed through a portal that is designed elsewhere. The organization running the portal is seen as “taking credit”. For this reason much of the focus of discussion in recent years has been on service-level interfaces, rather than portals on the theory that defining enabling technologies will permit each participating organization can create its own “portal”. Can the paper more directly address this question? Is the intention that copies of the Ocean Data Portal will be hosted at each NODC?
* The standards literature is full of analyses to explain what are the elements of Information Technology that make achieving standardization so difficult. The best examples of success are found to be in the IETF and the W3C, where great emphasis is placed on mature , competing implementations of technologies, before they can become “standards”. The design of the portal described in this paper seems to depend upon a standards process that is described in just a single sentence, “IODE, together with JCOMM, has initiated a standards process that will support the accreditation and adoption of core standards by the marine meteorological and oceanographic communities”. Does the OceanObs conference include a paper on this process that can be cited? If not, then can more detail on the IODE/JCOMM standards process be included in this paper.
* The paper refers to “a number of internationally accepted standards which are applicable to oceanographic data [including] those developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)”. It is implied that the OGC and ISO processes have produced mature standards that are ready to be applied to oceanography. The simple statement hides the complex reality that the the standard tend to be at such high levels of abstraction that another layer of standards is needed in order to apply them to oceanography. The case of OGC is particularly acute, where 1) the standards cannot provide interoperability until complex and subtle XML application schemas are developed and agreed upon across the ocean community and 2) multiple OGC standards such as WFS, WCS and SOS compete to perform the same task. In this predicament we are seeing some pockets of convergence and other major areas of divergence. The portal is apparently based upon the use of the WFS standard. Can you include in the paper a discussion of the particular application schema that is used, and the breadth of acceptance that the application schema enjoys?
* Along the lines of the previous remark, the paper mentions that the “metadata record is based on ISO 19115″. Can you cite the particular profiles of ISO 19115 that are being used?
* Since the paper shows attractive and tantalizing screen snap shots of user interfaces, providing a URL at which the reader can experience the portal would add to the paper. If a URL is unavailable for reasons of security or BETA status, then can the paper suggest when it might become available and where the reader should look for it?