This year I had the pleasure of serving as the Student Fellow in the EnviroSensing Collaboration Area. Although my Master’s thesis work was in remote sensing and applications of remotely-sensed products to landscape ecology, I was in well over my head when I joined the team. There are many kinds of “sensing” of the environment; this team’s focus is pretty different from the kinds I am familiar with.
The bulk of the EnviroSensing group’s work this year was on a project called X-DOMES. The acronym stands for Cross Domain Observational Metadata Environmental Sensing Network—quite a mouthful, so it’s no wonder everyone always says “X-DOMES” instead! The goal of the project is to encourage sensor manufacturers to more-fully describe sensors OGC-SWE (SensorML) and the power of the W3C Semantic Web by referencing registered controlled-vocabularies.
The X-DOMES team, which includes Janet Fredericks (WHOI), Mike Botts (Bott, Inc.), Felimon Gayanilo (Texas A&M), John Graybeal (MMI), Krzysztof Janowicz (UCSB), and Carlos Ruedo (MBARI), is working to address the lack of standards-based metadata for describing sensors by implementing easy-to-use metadata forms and processes that integrate controlled vocabularies. A shared, widely-used metadata standard for tracking sensor information would enable data providers—and researchers—to more accurately understand sensor specifications and deployment conditions, and thus to more effectively utilize the data these sensors generate.
Sensors in action!
This year, members of the X-DOMES team presented on various aspects of the project to the larger EnviroSensing group. Currently, EnviroSensing group members are assisting in development of vocabularies about sensor types and observable properties for a variety of domains—and more help is needed! Get in touch with Janet Fredericks (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d be interested in participating in this effort.
Hearing about sensor metadata standards and the X-DOMES project was a great opportunity for me to learn more about the “behind-the-scenes” issues of environmental data generation and maintenance. The lack of a standard system for tracking and communicating metadata has been a recurring frustration in my own research, so it’s exciting to learn that there are so many talented people working to tackle this issue, and to get to participate in their conversations for a year.