A Framework for Integrating Oceanographic Data Repositories

Oceanographic research covers a broad range of science domains and requires a tremendous amount of cross-disciplinary collaboration. Advances in cyberinfrastructure are making it easier to share data across disciplines through the use of web services and community vocabularies. Best practices in the design of web services and vocabularies to support interoperability amongst science data repositories are only starting to emerge. Strategic design decisions in these areas are crucial to the creation of end-user data and application integration tools. We present S2S, a novel framework for deploying customizable user interfaces to support the search and analysis of data from multiple repositories. Our research methods follow the Semantic Web methodology and technology development process developed by Fox et al. This methodology stresses the importance of close scientist-technologist interactions when developing scientific use cases, keeping the project well scoped and ensuring the result meets a real scientific need. The S2S framework motivates the development of standardized web services with well-described parameters, as well as the integration of existing web services and applications in the search and analysis of data. S2S also encourages the use and development of community vocabularies and ontologies to support federated search and reduce the amount of domain expertise required in the data discovery process. S2S utilizes the Web Ontology Language (OWL) to describe the components of the framework, including web service parameters, and OpenSearch as a standard description for web services, particularly search services for oceanographic data repositories. We have created search services for an oceanographic metadata database, a large set of quality-controlled ocean profile measurements, and a biogeographic search service. S2S provides an application programming interface (API) that can be used to generate custom user interfaces, supporting data and application integration across these repositories and other web resources. Although initially targeted towards a general oceanographic audience, the S2S framework shows promise in many science domains, inspired in part by the broad disciplinary coverage of oceanography. This presentation will cover the challenges addressed by the S2S framework, the research methods used in its development, and the resulting architecture for the system. It will demonstrate how S2S is remarkably extensible, and can be generalized to many science domains. Given these characteristics, the framework can simplify the process of data discovery and analysis for the end user, and can help to shift the responsibility of search interface development away from data managers.

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The goals of this effort is to design and implement a configurable and extensible semantic eScience framework. Configuration will require some research into accommodating different levels of semantic expressivity and user requirements from use cases. Extensibility will be achieved in a modular approach to the semantic encodings (i.e. ontologies) performed in a community setting, i.e. an ontology framework into which specific applications all the way up to communities can extend the semantics for their needs.