Global IOC-IODE ODP and GEOSS developments
The UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission - IOC operates the International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange - IODE programme. This was established in 1961 (i) to facilitate and promote the exchange of oceanographic data and information; (ii) to develop standards, formats and methods for the global exchange of oceanographic data and information; (iii) to assist Member States to acquire the necessary capacity to manage oceanographic data and information and become partners in the IODE network. As a global programme, IODE gives attention to all ocean related data including physical oceanography, chemical, biological, etc. IODE closely collaborates with, and services the needs of the other IOC and related programmes such as Ocean Science, Global Ocean Observing System and the Joint WMO-IOC Technical Commission for Oceanography and Marine Meteorology (JCOMM). During the past 50 years the IODE programme has created a global network of 82 National Oceanographic Data Centres (NODCs) in 80 countries.
Each year additional data centres are established. Most of the NODCs now provide data under the IOC‘s data policy -free and open- through specialized web sites. However in recent years users call for interconnected data systems (one-stop shop). This has led IODE to developing the Ocean Data Portal to facilitate and promote the exchange and dissemination of marine data and services on a global scale and through a federated and interoperable network of national and regional data systems. The Ocean Data Portal should provide seamless access to collections and inventories of marine data from the IODE NODCs and other data centres in the network and will allow for the discovery, evaluation (through visualisation and metadata review) and access to data via web services.
A fundamental concept is that, like GEOSS, the ocean or marine 'system of systems' must be built on existing systems and initiatives with sufficient flexibility to encompass future systems. This interoperability should be achieved through the use of internationally endorsed standards and best practice (such as SOA, ISO and OGC) and should not require data centres to change their internal data management systems. The future Ocean Data Portal is considered to be a federating system, interoperating with national and regional systems, such as US IOOS, SeaDataNet, Australian Oceans Portal, and others, and international systems such as the WIS of the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).
The IODE strategy is to build upon existing systems; it does not aim at duplicating existing national or regional systems such as SeaDataNet and its regional extensions. Where such networks do not exist (e.g. in various developing regions), the IODE ODP strategy is to provide free software tools to link national data systems to the global network.
However there is a great challenge to be overcome for achieving the required interoperability between the portal and various regional systems due to existing differences in standards, services and policies, and due to the fact that the IODE is depending on voluntary contributions. To overcome the technical barriers towards a operational fully fledged Ocean Data Portal it is required that IODE participants devote increased resources to cooperation, and actively use more common data and metadata standards, communications protocols, software, and policies that will knit the parts into an integrated whole. To this end IODE collaborates closely with e.g. WMO through the Ocean Data Standards project which aims at publishing internationally agreed standards related to ocean data management and exchange. The ODS currently does not yet address all the specific needs of interoperability and an accelerated approach is needed.