The many challenges of data management: FixO³ contribution


Andree Behnken

MARUM, University of Bremen

When it comes to handling data derived from oceanographic research, data managers and data users often face reoccurring problems when handling or searching these data, such as:

  • data are often protected and not easily accessible
  • data policies differ between data providers
  • data and metadata exist in various formats
  • data dissemination is not always standardised
  • data reside in various repositories

To help improve this situation, the main objective of FixO³’s data management is to ease access to marine observatory data by harmonising standards, formats and workflows. The FixO³ data policy was therefore emplaced with the aim of defining specific data- and metadata formats as well as data transport protocols that comply with acknowledged international standards and which will have to be adhered to by all partners providing data to FixO³.

To further harmonise efforts with other European infrastructures, FixO³ interacts with EMODnet, SeaDataNet, PANGAEA, and especially OceanSites and Copernicus (formerly MyOcean).

FixO³ set itself the ambitious aim of offering unrestricted, direct and fast access to data. In order to achieve this, the FixO³ web portal offers two different approaches to search and access datasets: a metadata catalogue and search by observatory.

The FixO³ metadata catalogue offers simple and advanced search modes and returns matching results from within the FixO³ data holdings. The results contain a brief, descriptive summary of the datasets as well as a link for direct and unrestricted download.

All FixO³ observatories are listed on the website and can be searched. These listings include a link to the data sets, which provides for direct and unrestricted access.

Currently, there are just under 1000 datasests accessible via the FixO³ website, which are located in different repositories, but are directly downloadable without the need for further registration or provision of user credentials. The number of these datasets will increase during the remaining two years of the project.

As FixO³ strongly promotes the usage of standardised formats and protocols, another important point is the dissemination of (near) real-time data. It is planned to use Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) technologies, in particular the Sensor Observation Service (SOS), to make real-time data accessible. This approach has been followed in a number of recent and on-going projects (ESONET, Jerico, NeXOS), and FixO³ will contribute to this effort.

Over the last few years the SWE suite has yielded a number of acknowledged standards and has gained considerable relevance. A discussion on this topic is ongoing within FixO3, to present SWE solutions already in place in the group of FixO³ observatory operators, and to find pragmatic ways to implement those techniques for real-time data across the whole network of FixO³ observatories.

Figure: Monthly data on Sea Temperature from PYLOS observatory. FixO3 (2014) Fixed-Point Open Ocean Observatories FP7 Project FixO3 Website. Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2015).