OGC simplifies EO data access and analysis through novel technique

Similar to a smartphone app-store, this new principle allows application developers and application consumers to select and use the best tool for any given data challenge.

OGC simplifies EO data access and analysis through novel technique
OGC simplifies EO data access and analysis through novel technique

OGC simplifies EO data access and analysis through novel technique

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), together with OGC Strategic Members the European Space Agency (ESA) and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), have taken a fundamental step towards the full exploitation of IT clouds and Big Data processing.

As part of the Earth Observation Applications Pilot, OGC Members have matured an architecture that allows software developers to easily package and share their applications. Similar to a smartphone app-store, this new principle allows application developers and application consumers to select and use the best tool for any given data challenge.

Using this method, the cloud supports the necessary scaling on the infrastructure side, while OGC Standards ensure that all components interact seamlessly.

The findings of the Pilot are summarized in the OGC Earth Observation Applications Pilot: Summary Engineering Report, while the participants’ experiences as either application developers or platform providers are documented across several other Engineering Reports, available here.

The Pilot, conducted between December 2019 and September 2020, has developed an architecture and methods that enable the simple sharing of data processing applications between scientists, scientific communities, and beyond – a boon to collaboration, repeatability, accountability, and accessibility.

With the two Pilot Sponsors, ESA and NRCan, working hand-in-hand, the pilot successfully tested application deployment and execution on several commercial and governmental cloud platforms. This cross-platform compatibility means that the dream of ‘an app store for big data processing applications’ is quickly becoming a reality.

Due to the close collaboration between OGC, the Pilot Sponsors, and other OGC Member Participants, the Pilot produced not only very valuable results, but also better outcomes than would have been possible by any single party, such as tighter integration of different platforms, and better future-proofing of the technologies through the consideration of more diverse use-cases.

The architecture, developed during OGC Testbed-13Testbed-14, and Testbed-15, uses Docker for application packaging and Web APIs and/or Services for application handling and execution.

Technically, the Pilot:

  • Validated the general approach of using Docker for application packaging and Web APIs and/or Services for application handling and execution;
  • Defined application patterns based on data inputs/outputs;
  • Confirmed the role of the Common Workflow Language (CWL) for application description, execution, and workflow building; and
  • Recommends the usage of the SpatioTemporal Asset Catalog (STAC) as a data manifest for application inputs and outputs.

The Earth Observation Applications Pilot was conducted under OGC’s Innovation Program, a collaborative, agile, and hands-on prototyping and engineering environment where sponsors and OGC members come together to address location interoperability challenges while validating international open standards.