BYTE session at the 4th GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshop


BYTE representatives attended the 4th GEOSS Science and Technology Stakeholder Workshop, held on March 24-26 2015, in Norfolk (VA), USA. There they gathered first-hand feedback from the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) community, which contributed to the BYTE environment case study on Earth and space observation portals and associated initiatives.

For a decade now, GEO has been driving the interoperability of many thousands of individual space-based, airborne and in-situ Earth observations around the world. These separate systems often yield snapshot assessments, leading to critical gaps in scientific understanding. GEO is addressing such gaps by coordinating the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), a global network of content providers providing easy, open access to organized observations that enable an increasingly integrated view of our changing Earth. This fuller picture is an indispensable foundation for sound decision making for a number of different users ranging from developed and developing nations battling drought and disease, to emergency managers making evacuation decisions, farmers making planting choices, companies evaluating energy costs, and coastal communities concerned about sea-level rise etc.

In addition to policy and governance issues, GEOSS poses formidable scientific and technological challenges. The Science and Technology Stakeholders of GEO are collaborating to address these in a number of ways, including a series of workshops focused on the scope of the future GEOSS and the concepts and technologies that can support a future-oriented “system of systems”, providing observations and practice-relevant knowledge to a wide range of users. Participants in the workshops include technology developers; experts in data management, integration, and analysis; developers of knowledge systems; and user representatives.

The organizers of the 4th GEOSS S&T Stakeholder Workshop offered BYTE the opportunity to chair one of the breakout sessions of the rich two-day program.  This was the Breakout Session 1.1: Cloud and Big Data Revolutions, on Wednesday 25 March. CNR’s researcher Lorenzo Bigagli, who leads the effort on establishing the BYTE Big Data Community, presented the project and moderated the discussion based on the attendees’ own experience, starting from the very fundamental question: what are the potential values, not only to future GEOSS, but also to anyone who might benefit, from exploiting the data super nova in the environment sector?

Bob Chen, from Columbia University, acted as rapporteur for the session summarized the discussion in the following points:

GEOSS has always been about big data in environment sector!

  • IoT and IoP—and the “Internet of Location”—are already becoming part of GEOSS.
  • GEOSS needs to facilitate new data integration and to address policies, privacy : e.g., anonymization, processes to control use, legal interoperability, quality labelling/trust processes.
  • E-infrastructure is needed to support open access, legal interoperability, education/changing data culture.
  • Benefits of using data to support Society inevitably come with risks of potential misuse of data; GEO has to be supportive and follow member policies.

All the feedback gathered has been integrated into BYTE Deliverable 3.2, Case Study Reports on positive and negative externalities within the environment sector, and is hence contributing to shaping the BYTE vision, roadmap, and methodology.

The event has also been a useful opportunity for project dissemination, in particular through the BYTE Fact and Info Sheets, in preparation for the third phase of the project. This is where the BYTE Big Data Community will be launched among the European Big Data stakeholders, including the geospatial sector and those who participate in the GEOSS Science & Technology Stakeholder network.