The GEOSS 10-year implementation plan, developed by interested countries and organisations, builds on and adds value to existing Earth Observation systems by coordinating their efforts, addressing critical gaps, supporting their interoperability, sharing information, reaching a common understanding of user requirements and improving delivery of information to users. The GEOSS Platform (formerly GEOSS Common Infrastructure - GCI) provides the different users (in particular those from the Societal Benefit Areas recognized by GEO) a set of functions and services, including search, discovery and access. It consists of the following main components:
GEOSS Web Portal (GWP): web interface for end users to search and access GEOSS resources.
GEO Discovery and Access Broker (DAB): middleware framework enabling discovery and access of heterogeneous resources from different information systems and capacities; it is accessed by the GWP according to end user requests.
GEO Yellow Pages: supporting the registration of data and knowledge providers.
GEO Status Checker: monitoring the availability of distributed data sources.
According to GEO, "The GCI has greatly advanced Earth observation data interoperability; however, user expectations regarding data discoverability, access and quality assurance have not been met". This GEO report recommends that: "Access to the GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI) should be more user- friendly, and data discovery and accessibility should be improved, using successful Architecture Implementation Pilots (AIPs) as models". The reason behind the identified shortcomings of the GCI in general and of the GEOSS Portal in particular, mostly resides in their “data-centric (as opposed to “user-centric”) nature, which alienates the users.
Evolution towards user-centrality is therefore required to stem user disaffection, in line with the GEO strategy for the period 2016-2025, which can be summarized as: engage all the user communities to better understand their needs, deliver solutions (in terms of Earth observation data, information, tools and services) in response to them, advocate the benefits of using GEOSS.
The H2020 EDGE project, managed by ESA and funded by the European Commission, aims at implementing and operating a new process to develop these user-centric approach and the related functionalities in the GEOSS Web Portal (GWP) and the GEO DAB. The European Commission and ESA agree that the evolution of the GWP shall be carried out also by evolving the GEO DAB and ensuring alignment of the GWP and GEO DAB respective developments. The aim is to increase the uptake, exploitation and use of Earth Observation data, while contributing to the main strategic objectives common to the European Union (EU) and the European Space Agency (ESA).
The DAB4EDGE project is funded by ESA to support the EDGE project concerning the GEO DAB component, its evolution and alignment with the GEO Portal enhancements, and the development of showcases about the discovery, access, and generation of data and knowledge through the GEOSS Platform.