ESA > Join & Share > Blogs > Near Real Time

Near Real Time

This Blog provides you information about the latest services, deliverables, activities related to the RSS. Keep informed!
Created by
RSS feed

The benefits of standardisation and interoperability - links to sustainable growth and innovation


The recent completion of the standardisation work performed within the Open Geospatial Consortium by the HMA-FO project which has addressed

  • EO products matadata,
  • the so-called Feasibility Analysis, based on the Sensor Planning Service,
  • the Online data access, based on the Web Coverage Service and
  • the Product Ordering

have raised the question on which are the benefits of the ongoing work finalised at standardisation and interoperability.   The EO ground segment interface harmonization activity has been based on seven high level objectives:

  • To manage and reduce technical risks in EO systems and operations
  • To manage and reduce cost of EO system and operations
  • To establish the baseline for the development of the European Space infrastructure in the context pf the GMES Programme capable of harmonizing and exploiting relevant national initiatives and assets
  • To allow interoperability within and across organizations
  • To increase competitiveness of European Space (and downstream) industry
  • To maintain the leadership in EO systems and operations and avoid insurgence of undesired standards
  • To ensure that technology drivers for the European guaranteed access to Space are lead by European Requirements

  The high level objectives are nice to have. However to maintain the required efforts on standardisation we need to convince management and stakeholders providing supporting arguments and answers to at least three questions:

  • How do we measure the benefits of interoperability?
  • Does standardisation support economic growth?
  • Does standardisation support knowledge and innovation?

  The first question will be addressed today at a dedicated workshop of the INSPIRE Conference, we’ll wait for the outcome of the discussion to further report on it!

For what concerns standardisation support to economic growth, knowledge and innovation, two independent reports from France and UK concur in the finding that standardisation supports the economic growth, knowledge and innovation. For what concerns innovation in particular it has to be noted that

  • standardization helps to build focus, cohesion and critical mass in the formative stages of a market;
  • standardization codifies and diffuses state of the art technology and best practice;
  • open standards are desirable to enable a competitive process of innovation-led growth.

Progress of OGC standardisation and INSPIRE Ortoimagery guidelines

The Open Geospatial consortium technical committee meeting is ongoing in Bonn. Progress is being made on two standards relevant for ground segment harmonisation: the first concerns the ordering services for Earth observation products, the second concerns Earth Observation profile for the Web Coverage Service.

For what concerns the ordering service for EO products improvements have been agreed to take into account the experience made during the implementation of the Reference Order Server to ensure that the schema can be correctly managed by the .NET code generator, and to minimize as much as possible the references to the external schemas in order to improve the compatibility with XML Data Binding Tools like XMLBEANS, and the possibility to make reference to a ProductID. Voting is ongoing with some of the standard working group members questioning the introduction of an anyType element at order and order item level.

For what concerns the EO application profile for the Web Coverage Service 2.0 the standards working group will propose the OGC technical committee to adopt the pending document.

The EO-AP provides the following specification elements:

Definition of specific Earth Observation coverages (EO Coverages) which have a latitude/longitude or projected x/y spatial extent and a temporal validity extent. EO Coverages are derived from Referenceable Grid Coverages and Rectified Grid Coverages as defined in the GML Application Schema for Coverages OGC 09-146r1. Each EO Coverage has an EO metadata set OGC 10-157r2 contained in its metadata which describes the coverage on hand on a higher semantic level. Furthermore it allows to group EO Coverages as retrievals of plain 2-D EO Coverages named "Datasets", and "Stitched Mosaics" or "Dataset Series".

The progress made on the EO WCS AP and the fact that its reference to coverages goes through the Observation & Measurements model via the geographic markup language  application schema for coverages, makes it an ideal candidate for building the extensions needed to provide the INSPIRE Ortoimagery guidelines.

New ordering standard submitted to OGC

As conclusion of almost a year of work in the standard working group, the Open Geospatial Consortium has launched a call for public comments on the candidate OGC Ordering Services for Earth Observation Products Interface Standard. This interface standard defines interfaces for ordering products derived from Earth observation satellites. The ordering services are implemented in the ground segments of several partners within the Ground Segment Coordination Body. The ordering service standardisation is an important step in fulffilling the objective of harmonised ground segment interfaces.

The finalisation of the Ordering Service specification marks an additional achievement in the approach taken to standardise Earth Observation ground segment interfaces within the OGC with the objective of fostering the seamless integration of Earth Observation data exploitation and services within the wider geospatial domain.

The candidate standard has been submitted by the OGC Technical Committee Ordering Standards Working Group and it is based on a specification prepared and prototyped by the ESA HMA-FO project Task 1 lead by Telespazio with the support of Conterra. The consortium has benefited from prototypes and feedback provided by Eumetsat, DLR, ESA and others.

The candidate OGC Ordering Services for Earth Observation Products Interface Standard can be found at: http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/requests/75.

Towards more SAFE archive format

ESA has been working on the sandard archive format SAFE since 2004. Current SAFE format has been discussed within the CCSDS, the consultative committee for space data systems and follows the reference model for open archival information system. SAFE has been even considered at a certain point in time a candidate format for data dissemination towards the users within the Sentinels. This idea has been abandoned in favour of formats for dissemination that follow best practices in the community using the data. Needless to say that the product metadata shall follow the information model recommended from the HMA architecture working goup, and where applicable, from the INSPIRE Orthoimagery Worikng Group.

A recent brainstorming in the facilities and technology division has confirmed the need for a SAFE format within long term archiving and preservation activities. Changes may come out to ensure the alignement with the HMA recommendations on product metadata which are used within the ground segment and by feedback from experts and best practices used by the partners within the ground segment coordination body which share similar archiving and preservation problems.


Beyond semantics

Whilst the number of missions made available to scientists and service providers and value adders is increasing, there is a growing interest in ontology and semantics as the tools to allow the access and conceptual navigation across this wealth of data. As the number of actors accessing the data increases there is as well the tendency to address community specific requirements in building the ontology, thus raising the requirements for a level of mediation across the various ontologies.

The specific use which is made for a term within a community may lead as well to a problem of semantic ambiguity which is augmented by the interest for global phenomena. Forest may in fact mean different things if you are talking about high latitudes, middle ones or the equator. The issue is not so serious when an automatic system is performing the semantic labelling, but it can became a serious issue, if the labelling is performed by experts as it happens in image analysis and geospatial intelligence. This problem makes the sharing of knowledge and information across communities quite difficult. The problem is however still in the context already known of semantic ambiguity.
The next problem which comes up when experts are involved is that the "cognitive" aspect should somehow be taken into account. What we in fact ask the expert is not only to recognize and classify the information within the EO data - that is we do not only ask him to classify the platypus once they met it, but as well to discover new patterns within the EO data. Since we are addressing image analysis then the cognitive aspects in image illusions become relevant in the wider context of semiotics.
The implications of the above analysis are quite significant as the tools that we normally use are not tuned for semantic nor for semiotic. If we consider the reference model for open distributed processing for instance, it addresses the “information model” i.e. the conceptual design of the information structure which is of interest to the specific project, but is not adapted to address the semantic model, nor semantic ambiguity.
Therefore seems that some work in the future shouldl be addressed to cover the semantic aspect from the point of view of the design methodology as was made replacing the computational model with the service model in the reference model for open distributed processing.
By the way can you see the heart off the coast of Brazil?


RSS Workshop - Feedback form available!

Your feedback is of paramount importance to us!

A workshop feedback form is avaible at the registratio desk for your feedback. The form allows both an anonymous feedback, as well as details on your own interests and feedback on the workshop presentations. There is room for indicating your requirements and suggestions.

You are welcomed as well to provide directly comments on the workshop or to discuss your requirements directly on the Join & Share area by replying to this post!

Security: OGC publishes Best Practice document

One year after the start of the reviews at the HMA Architecture Working Group, the document addressing User Management Interfaces for Earth Observation Services has been finalised and voted for publication as OGC Best Practice. You may remember that the initial version of the document was strongly criticised by the Conterra team working for EUMETSAT. Our forum however keeps a log anly of some of the discussions related to the document, which was improved thanks to the comments of the Security Working Group of the Open Geospatial Consortium and of the ESA Earth Observation Payload Data Ground Segment Security Officer. Furtrhermore the document reflects the input coming from imlementations ongoing at DLR, ESA and Spot Image.
Open Source software and an implementation guidance document are available here.
User Management Interfaces for Earth Observation Services

Renewed interest in security and single sign on

The Open Geospatial Consortium is calling for participation into an OGC Web Services Shibboleth Interoperability Experiment. This announcement anticipates of a couple of weeks the formalisation of the ESA sponsored "Best Practice" OGC Document OGC 07-118 describing the interfaces required to authenticate and (possibly) authorise users in a federated system of OGC Web Services for Earth Observation. The document OGC 07-118 has been supported by extensive discussions with European and national space Agencies like EUMETSAT, EUSC, CNES and DLR and has seen the contribution of active players in the Earth Observation industry like Spot Image. The ESA sponsored document discusess the authentication of Web services taking into account the bridge between different bindings and is kept open to Shibboleth or other http based softwares. This blossoming of initiatives shows a growing interest from institutions, agencies and industry for an harmonised authentication mechanism for next generation geospatial web services.

Resources for your EO research, application or service

Workshop Announcement:
Resources for your EO research, application or service
ESA – ESRIN, October 12, 2010

The workshop objectives are to:
- provide an overview of the support for EO research and service development made available by the Ground Segment Department within the Earth Observation Programme of the European Space Agency.
- offer the opportunity to scientists, algorithm, application and service developers to provide requirements and feedback on expected evolutions of available tools and environments.

During coffee breaks, lunch and after the event, it will be provided access to and demonstrations of all the environments including processing on demand, service support and image information mining.

Sensor Planning Service for Earth Observation missions under discussion at OGC

Pleasefind enclosed the OGC announcement for tha HMAAWG supported SPS EO profile
The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC®) members are seeking comments on the "Earth Observation Satellite Tasking Extension for OGC® Sensor Planning Service (SPS)." The SPS
configuration proposed in this profile supports the programming of Earth Observation (EO) sensor systems. The candidate standard describes a single SPS configuration that can be supported by many satellite data providers who have existing facilities for managing
sensor system programming requests.

This SPS standard defines interfaces for queries that provide information about the capabilities of a sensor and how to task the sensor, where the sensor may be any type of sensor with a digital
interface. The SPS and EO-SPS standards are part of the OGC Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) (
http://www.opengeospatial.org/ogc/markets-technologies/swe ) suite
of standards. SWE standards enable developers to describe, discover,
task, and access any Internet or Web accessible sensor, transducer and
sensor data repository.

The candidate OGC® Sensor Planning Service Application Profile for Earth Observation Sensors and information on submitting comments on this document are available at
http://www.opengeospatial.org/standards/requests/70. The public comment period closes on September 16, 2010.

Page: 2/3123