A cyberinfrastructure for a better use of environmental information

The European Open-Earth-Monitor (OEMC) project wants to design a cyberinfrastructure that will make it easy to work with these large volumes of data. Image: Jaromir Kavan
The European Open-Earth-Monitor (OEMC) project wants to design a cyberinfrastructure that will make it easy to work with these large volumes of data. Image: Jaromir Kavan

In recent decades, Earth Observation technology has experienced a sharp growth. Observation and monitoring networks generate more and more data and current management systems are getting overloaded with information. As a result, research and decision making are slowed down. The European Open-Earth-Monitor project (OEMC) plans to design a cyberinfrastructure that can easily work with these large volumes of data.

The main purpose of this project is to increase the capacity to generate environmental information and to develop effective actions that have an impact on the ground.

The main purpose of this project is to increase the capacity to generate environmental information and to develop effective actions that have an impact on the ground. Hence, a better monitorization of the state of natural resources, financial assessments of ecosystem services versus the costs of greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of environmental and climate solutions for specific contexts and projects could be achieved. One of the main goals of the project is to support the objectives of the European Green Deal, the new EU climate adaptation strategy and the European Data Strategy.

The OEMC project is driven by a consortium comprising a total of 23 international organizations, research centers and private companies, both European and global. It is also part of the Horizon-Europe program and includes the participation of CREAF.

Digital and open solutions

Managing Big Data requires a high level of expertise and a lot of computational capacity, making it a difficult task for professionals working in the field to process critical environmental information. The OEM project researchers propose a solution: to create a cyberinfrastructure. This consists of a data and information management cloud system that interconnects laboratories, measurement instruments, visualization environments and people through advanced software and networks. Thanks to this kind of network, academic productivity is improved and discoveries are made that would not otherwise be possible.

“Working with large volumes of data is very complicated: downloading it, filtering it, correcting it, and so on. A Cloud system can help and make it easy, but the current ones do not seem sufficient”

JOAN MASÓ, CREAF researcher.

This cyberinfrastructure will be accessible to research, decision makers and technical professionals, from landowners to citizens themselves. That is why one of the major challenges of the project is to base the network on open data and implement the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reproducible) principles. In this way, many user communities in Europe and around the world will be able to easily use environmental information to make decisions.

“One of the biggest concerns is that the licenses for the data needed are not open. We have to face the challenge of convincing all stakeholders of the benefits of open data,” says Masó.

This new cyberinfrastructure must be based on open data available for a multitude of different users. Image: Agent J.
This new cyberinfrastructure must be based on open data available for a multitude of different users. Image: Agent J.

Innovation on a solid foundation

“The project participants have a long experience in the development of systems such as OpenGEOHub, Brockmann Consult and Sinergize, to name a few,” explains Joan Masó. Thanks to this, they will be able to identify the main needs of this type of system to drive the creation of innovative and user-friendly tools.

"CREAF will apply its developments in browsers and provide access to citizen science data, as well as the ability to write and develop standards"

In addition, the data managed by this new network will be of very high quality as they will come from measurements collected on the ground by European research networks and infrastructures, citizen science programs and automated sensor networks. All of them will be integrated into an open source program in the cloud commanded by an artificial intelligence. 

“CREAF will apply its developments in browsers and provide access to citizen science data, as well as the ability to write and develop standards. In addition, we will learn a lot about new technologies for working in the cloud.clarifies Masó.

Participation at the heart of the design

The project places users at the center of platform design from the beginning. The software engine will include a user-friendly homepage, a graphical model builder and an application builder. All to make the tools easy to understand and use. 

A wide range of stakeholders will be involved throughout its duration to determine their needs, gaps and challenges. To this end, a series of interactive meetings will be held to identify improvements.  

The first of such workshops was held on July 19 at the Wageningen International University Campus under the title “Innovative governance, environmental observations and digital solutions in support of the European Green Deal”. It brought together experts from business, politics and academia with the technical community to connect potential users of the future platforms to be developed by the project.

You can consult the presentations of the first workshop in this link:

More information:

Stewart, Craig & Simms, Stephen & Plale, Beth & Link, Matthew & Hancock, David & Fox, Geoffrey. (2010). What is Cyberinfrastructure?. Proceedings ACM SIGUCCS User Services Conference. 10.1145/1878335.1878347.

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