Presented at OceanObs’19, Honolulu, HI, September 16-20, 2019
The FAIR principles (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, Re-usability) have pervaded discussions on data across disciplines and sectors.While data Findability and Accessibility has greatly improved, considerable difficulties in scalable interoperation remain. Without significant progress, the rapidly growing stores of ocean data risk being siloed for many years to come.
A key aspect of Interoperability is "semantic": using knowledge representation (KR) to translate human understanding into machine-readable form. Quality KR allows machines to "understand" what any information artifact is about and relate it to similar artifacts, enabling discovery and enhancing reuse.
KR products are usually expressed as vocabularies, glossaries, thesauri, or ontologies (collectively, terminologies), each with its own costs and benefits. Ironically, most marine terminologies are, themselves, not truly interoperable. This is an unfortunate but inevitable outcome of localised and transient funding, and the lack of sustained global infrastructures.Nonetheless, voluntary consortia are addressing this issue with urgency to realise the promise of KR in ocean observation.
Here, we present 1) the alignment of well-adopted marine terminologies, 2) a collective strategy for sustained interoperability, and 3) a use case featuring the IOC-UNESCO Ocean Best Practice System. Initialised by the Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office, we are interlinking terminologies from the Natural Environment Research Council's Vocabulary Server, the Open Biological and Biomedical Ontologies Foundry, and the Earth Science Information Partners. To serve the UNESCO Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, this effort includes ontologies which represent both the Essential Ocean Variables and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Finally, we provide perspectives on what measures are needed to meet the interoperability challenge at scale over the next decade.
NSF #1435578, #1924618
Woods Hole Open Access Server