Capturing Sensor Metadata for Cross-Domain Interoperability
Abstract:Envision a world where a field operator turns on an instrument, and is queried for information needed to create standardized encoded descriptions that, together with the sensor manufacturer knowledge, fully describe the capabilities, limitations and provenance of observational data. The Cross-Domain Observational Metadata Environmental Sensing Network (X-DOMES) pilot project (with support from the NSF/EarthCube IA) is taking the first steps needed in realizing this vision.
The knowledge of how an observable physical property becomes a measured observation must be captured at each stage of its creation. Each sensor-based observation is made through the use of applied technologies, each with specific limitations and capabilities. Environmental sensors typically provide a variety of options that can be configured differently for each unique deployment, affecting the observational results. By capturing the information (metadata) at each stage of its generation, a more complete and accurate description of data provenance can be communicated. By documenting the information in machine-harvestable, standards-based encodings, metadata can be shared across disciplinary and geopolitical boundaries. Using standards-based frameworks enables automated harvesting and translation to other community-adopted standards, which facilitates the use of shared tools and workflows.
The establishment of a cross-domain network of stakeholders (sensor manufacturers, data providers, domain experts, data centers), called the X-DOMES Network, provides a unifying voice for the specification of content and implementation of standards, as well as a central repository for sensor profiles, vocabularies, guidance and product vetting. The ability to easily share fully described observational data provides a better understanding of data provenance and enables the use of common data processing and assessment workflows, fostering a greater trust in our shared global resources. The X-DOMES Network capabilities will form the foundation for interoperable architectures designed to integrate and document observational data, thereby fostering their reproducibility.