OBIS (Ocean Biogeographic Information System)
The OBIS organisation was established in 2002 by the Census of Marine Life (CoML) program (http://www.coml.org). It is an evolving strategic alliance of people and organizations sharing a vision to make marine biogeographic data, from all over the world, freely available over the World Wide Web. It is not a project or program, and is not limited to data from CoML-related projects. Any organization, consortium, project or individual may contribute to OBIS. OBIS provides, on an ‘open access’ basis through the World Wide Web:
• Taxonomically and geographically resolved data on marine life and the ocean environment.
• Interoperability with similar databases.
• Software tools for data exploration and analysis.
OBIS was one of the earliest Associate Members of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (www.gbif.org) which publishes data on all species. OBIS is a very active participant in GBIF activities, and one of the largest publishers of data to GBIF, reflecting its role as a specialist network for marine species. GBIF recommends that marine data are first published through OBIS, because OBIS can add special value (e.g. depth) and will manage the subsequent publication of data through GBIF. This also avoids duplication of data being separately published to GBIF and OBIS.
In June 2009, OBIS was adopted by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, as one of its activities under its International Oceanographic Data and Information Exchange (IODE) programme. Since then, OBIS and IODE staff members have been working on making this integration a reality. Up to the end of 2010, the OBIS Governing Board will remain active, and oversee the completion of OBIS' obligations in the framework of the Census of Marine Life. At the end of 2010, OBIS will be governed completely as an IODE activity.
D4Science joint research and interoperability activities seek to make OBIS services available to specific VREs, such as AquaMaps. These OBIS services can provide information that is compatible with existing formats, and consuming these services can directly benefit from services and technologies that have already been developed to serve the FARM VRE’s. In the opposite direction, D4Science can allow access to repositories and/or services that currently are difficult to access from the OBIS platform.
This bi-directional collaboration has been initially discussed with Edward Van de Berghe, OBIS chair, and also member of the D4Science-II external advisory board.
The existing OBIS system seeks to ease access to a large variety of data repositories. D4Science technologies for data ingestion, indexing and transformation can all be used to access OBIS repositories, and deliver the contained data to specific VREs or services. The technology framework of OBIS is very different from D4Science, but there may be a possibility to share web-services and data transformation technologies.
The nature and scope of the services that will have to be leveraged or developed for this collaboration are being negotiated.
OBIS has a pivotal position in the global flows of environmental data, and it is constantly seeking improvements to serve the data-needs of their users. It has a well-established network of repositories that can provide information to a wide range of scenarios.
Plans for the future
OBIS has committed effort to the development of scenarios that will be in line with other FARM VRE scenarios, in particular ICIS and AquaMaps. The current analysis seeks to identify mutual benefits of aligning specific activities of the two initiatives.