Second session of the IODE Steering Group for OBIS, 19-21 November 2012
The Second Session of the IODE Steering Group for OBIS took place at the IOC Project Office for IODE, Oostende, Belgium on 19–21 November 2012. In 2012, OBIS has undergone changes in management and operation, and all activities previously carried out at Rutgers University, USA have now been transferred to the IOC Project Office for IODE in Oostende, Belgium. The meeting resulted in several decisions and recommendations that will move OBIS forward. In addition, several task teams were formed to further develop OBIS and support the execution of the 2013 Work Plan. The new data system architecture was presented and new procedures will become operational from June 2013 onwards. It is expected that this will greatly enhance the data flow and provide tools to further improve data quality.
Despite the fact that the new OBIS manager was only recruited in May 2012, considerable progress was made with establishing international partnerships, engaging OBIS in global initiatives and increasing public awareness through social media. In 2012, 92 new datasets were collected and integrated in OBIS. OBIS now integrates 1,125 datasets, serving 33 million geo-referenced species observations of 120,000 marine species and is by far the largest global database of its kind. OBIS is increasingly picked-up by the scientific community; scientific papers using OBIS data appear on a weekly basis (80 publications in 2012) and 50,000 people visited the data portal in 2012 (35% are returning visitors). OBIS continues playing a crucial role in providing guidance and information for the identification of Ecologically or Biologically Significant marine Areas (a process developed within the Convention on Biological Diversity). The 22 OBIS nodes (data assembly centres) are engaged in a wide spectrum of activities, which demonstrates that the role of OBIS is not limited to raw data encoding but also to develop tools and products and offering services (including capacity building) for data-science and science-policy activities on a local, regional to global scale.
In 2013, the task teams will produce an IOC Manual and Guides for OBIS nodes that will include the definition of OBIS nodes, the terms of reference and procedure to establish OBIS nodes, standards and best practices (OBIS handbook) and a section on quality assurance, criteria and evaluation of OBIS nodes.
Funding remains an issue for the OBIS project office as well as for many OBIS nodes. The November 2011 decision of the USA to cease funding to UNESCO is threatening all programmes and activities of the IOC, including OBIS. OBIS now relies almost completely on extra budgetary funding. An OBIS business plan will be finalized early 2013 and will address OBIS’ vision and mission, objectives and key priorities, budget needs in relation to the work plan and potential funding opportunities. An OBIS data manager, bringing the staff to two professional positions, will join the OBIS project office in 2013.
Recommendations and Decisions
- The SG-OBIS established the following OBIS task teams:
- Technical Task Team (TechTT), Chair: Francisco Hernandez (EurOBIS)
- Data Task Team (DataTT), Chair: Philip Goldstein (OBIS-USA)
- Taxonomy Task Team (TaxTT), Chair: Tony Rees (OBIS-Australia)
- Governance Task Team (GovTT), Chair: Mark Fornwall (OBIS-USA)
- Documentation and Training Task Team (TrainingTT), Chair: Leen Vandepitte (EurOBIS)
- Outreach and Communication Task Team (OutreachTT), Chair: Sarah Faulwetter (MedOBIS)
- Language curators, Chair Eduardo Klein (Caribbean OBIS)
OBIS GOVERNANCE TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS recommended that if we want to receive support from Member States, whatever we do, it must be relevant to society and we need to showcase the applicability of OBIS and become heavily involved, not only in raw data encoding, but also in the development of tools and products and offer services to data-science and science-policy activities.
- The SG-OBIS agreed to organize a meeting with GBIF to discuss data flow between GBIF to OBIS and to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation
- The SG-OBIS agreed that in order for the OBIS network to fully participate within the IODE network, each OBIS Node organization will need to meet the requirements of an NODC, SODC (now called ADU) or propose another option for consideration by the IODE Committee
- The SG-OBIS agreed on a 3-tier structure of OBIS nodes with the following terms of reference (LINK)
- The SG-OBIS agreed on the procedure to establish new OBIS nodes (LINK) and to develop quality assurance criteria as part of an evaluation plan of OBIS nodes
- The SG-OBIS recommended that OBIS nodes that are not NODCs should not be included in the IODE QMF, but recognizes that those OBIS nodes that are NODCs or those that wish to become NODCs will be part of the IODE QMF.
- The SG-OBIS agreed that a task force would be established to complete the business plan
- The SG-OBIS agreed to provide information on the full investment (summary of products and services and an estimate of indirect and direct support to OBIS) by all its members as this would be an indicator of the value of OBIS to members and help to highlight the role of OBIS nodes.
OBIS TRAINING AND DOCUMENTATION TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS agreed that OBIS needs its own IOC Manual and Guides for OBIS nodes (in analogy with M&G 5 for NODCs)
- The SG-OBIS agreed that there is a need in training OBIS nodes and candidate OBIS nodes in the new data processing and validation tools.
- The SG-OBIS recommended to perform an assessment of the needs and budget requirements for Capacity Development.
OBIS DATA TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS recommended to further expand metadata schema, e.g., including sampling protocol, to make it possible to select datasets according to its ‘fitness for use’
- The SG-OBIS recommended that iOBIS uses the Integrated Marine Information System (IMIS) developed and maintained by VLIZ for managing the metadata. IMIS can export the metadata to the OBIS portal, as EML for IPT and as a DIV format for GCMD.
- The SG-OBIS recommended that unique identifiers for datasets is a key priority OBIS should work on
- The SG-OBIS recommended to extend the current data schema
- The SG-OBIS agreed that there is a need to create controlled vocabularies for several OBIS schema fields such as life history stage and gender (sex), and this to be developed be in collaboration with the IODE GE-BICH
- The SG-OBIS agreed to rely on Darwin Core and integrate Darwin Core with metadata to enrich content – prioritize specific features, in relation to other OBIS goals, based on factors to be determined based on a set of criteria responding to requirements analyzed by the data task team and through engagement with partners to build a community of practice.
OBIS TECHNICAL TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS agreed that all OBIS nodes should either set up a DiGIR or IPT
- The SG-OBIS agreed to set up IPT instances at the OBIS project office for OBIS nodes who request this service
- The SG-OBIS recommended that future OBIS data products may be maps showing species quantity information (abundance/biomass), and not only presence, but also species absence data, tracking/transect lines, migratory routes etc.
- The SG-OBIS recommended that environmental species envelopes should be built using regional higher resolution oceanographic data.
- The SG-OBIS recommended that links with a gazetteer will allow building regional species lists on the basis of locality names
- The SG-OBIS recommended that the OBIS portal should make better use of other webservices (e.g., WoRMS for taxonomy, species attributes; LifeWatch etc.).
- The SG-OBIS recommended to set up a private online workspace to discuss issues related to data quality, standards and practices
OBIS TAXONOMY TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS agreed that EurOBIS/VLIZ is responsible for cleaning up residual errors in species names in collaboration with the World Register of Marine Species, and to provide regular status report on numbers of errors (per taxonomic groups and time)
OBIS OUTREACH AND COMMUNICATION TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS recommended to develop a clear vision and mission to communicate, as well as a clear-cut, and coherent message across its networks.
- The SG-OBIS recommended to ask support from the UNESCO press office for press releases
- The SG-OBIS recommended to link with existing Education & Outreach (E&O) departments of organizations within the OBIS network
- SG-OBIS recommended to highlight champion projects (including tools and services developed on top of OBIS data) through relevant communication channels, together with stories on how OBIS is useful to the community, how it is engaged in providing its services, etc
- The SG-OBIS recommened, if funding allows, to distribute “goodies” (T-shirts, posters, …)
- The SG-OBIS recommended to produce a flow chart describing the data flow
- The SG-OBIS recommended to provide metrics, as an overview of data provider (number of records)
- The SG-OBIS recommended to discuss the website (what and where/how)
- The SG-OBIS recommended to seek funding to hire a Science/Outreach officer to join the OBIS Project Office.
OBIS TRANSLATORS TASK TEAM
- The SG-OBIS agreed that the front webpage should be multilingual. The various posts through social networks can be done in the languages used by the nodes. It was also agreed to have one curator by language/page.