GEOSS Data and Computing Challenges

Stefano Nativi and Barbara Ryan write about a data platform for earth observation

Society is facing unprecedented challenges for food, water and energy security. Resilience to natural hazards is an increasingly important issue as is the sustainability of ecosystems. Population growth, pandemics and the development of a sustainable economy all have currently unknown impacts against a backdrop of climate change, which has the potential to exacerbate all these issues.

Earth observations are necessary to report and model climate change and to calculate greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the Paris Agreement 2016 on Climate. The intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO) works to connect the demand for sound and timely environmental information with the supply of data and information about the Earth that is collected through observing systems and made available by the GEO community. GEO is leading a worldwide effort to build a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS).

GEOSS is a set of coordinated, independent Earth observation, information and processing systems that interact and provide access to diverse information for a broad range of users in both public and private sectors. GEOSS links these systems to strengthen the monitoring of the state of the Earth. Developed over the last decade, GEOSS makes more than 200,000,000 open Earth Observation data resources accessible for better decisions on a range of areas from food security, to protection of biodiversity, renewable energy and disaster resilience. With almost 160 data providers, an important element of GEOSS is the brokering framework called the GEO DAB (Discovery and Access Broker). The GEO DAB implements a brokering pattern ensuring the necessary scalability and flexibility.

The GEOSS evolution includes big data analytics capabilities, particularly data cube functionalities, to move from data sharing to information and knowledge generation and sharing, in particular to support the UN Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In keeping with the System-of-Systems principles and leveraging the implemented brokering pattern, GEOSS is looking at the EGI as a valuable e-infrastructures federation to underpin the new analytics capabilities requested by the GEO Community.

 GEOSS in numbers

  • GEOSS finalizes about 15,000 queries per day.
  • In 2016 GEOSS handled about 4.5 million of requests.
  • GEOSS brokers and harmonizes almost 160 GEOSS Providers of data and information.
  • The GEOSS Providers share about 200 million data granules (i.e. downloadable files), organized in about 42 million datasets.
  • The GEOSS Portal counts about 3,000 visits per month.
More information

Group on Earth Observations (GEO)

Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS)

Stefano Nativi is co-chair of the “GEOSS Architecture and Evolution” Working Group.

Barbara Ryan is the director of the GEO Secretariat