Description of the scenario
JRC - MARS and cooperating institutions make available to third parties agro-environmental data and software relevant to the agro-environmental domain.
Currently, such resources are made available either via free download, or via an agreement of use between JRC and third parties. Access is provided via FTP to download data, in general in form of comma separated values extracted from the database for data, and as compressed files for software. Software components are provided for download from dedicated web pages. There is no search functionality made available to third parties in the dedicated web pages, and many resources are not even visible on the Web. Users, when aware of the resource (via personal contacts, publications), make a request via email to the providers. Although software component encapsulate detailed meta-information, the metadata currently made visible via web are incomplete. For all resources, the connection to other domains where the resource could have a use is not implemented, and the possibility of resources re-use in different domains is left to human search and consideration case by case.
The agro-environmental scenario in TaToo is about publication, making available three types of resources, as summarized in the following:
The final objective of resources publications is twofold: a) to enable users to reproduce the analysis done for the European Commission, and b) to provide a loose collection of objects which can be used by public institutions for developing analysis in the agro-environmental domain.
Also, the scenario is about improving the capability to discover and evaluate resources. It will consist on a complete remake of existing workflows, and the implementation of new ones. The development of a new web portal for the purpose is on-going; a working prototype is already running. Meta-information, inclusive of a set of attributes for each variable downloadable (either as time series or other forms) are made available, for the time being only for a prototype provider, in the future for each data series that will be published to be downloadable. Search functionalities will be made available.
Environmental data dissemination
The Joint Research Centre runs analysis with coverage of Europe, and East-European, North African, Latin America, and Asian countries. Weather data are typically provided as time series associated to grid cell, where the grid is currently 25 km. Other typologies of data, such as soil profiles or sets of parameters for models, or crop management options, are in general associated to grid cells, but there are resources, accessible with a higher level of restriction, which are punctual. Table 1 shows figures about the amount of data made available. Data are identified by users, and made available often referring to specific projects.
Table 1 Description and number of records of a sample of JRC weather data
When data are made available to third parties, this has been done via ad hoc deliveries, responding to customers who were informed about the existence of data. The implementation being developed is via authenticated web services. However, besides the technical mean, this implies, in general term, publishing meta-information in a format both for human reading, and for machine discoverability, the latter likely not only in an exclusive TaToo perspective. The following image shows the prototype of the web portal for Environmental data / maps dissemination including tools based on TaToo web services.
Software components and applications dissemination
The MARS Unit of the Joint Research Centre makes available software which can be used for agro-environmental modelling. Model components in general contain multiple options for modelling a given process. The current web site and one from a partner institution have added up to more than 30.000 downloads but still, resources can be found very inefficiently via a text search. Software is developed to a specific architecture to maximize the ease of reuse; the essential aspects are described at http://bioma.jrc.ec.europa.eu/bioma/help/.
Because a large part of software resources published contains multi-modelling options, models must be searchable by various keys, starting from the outputs provided by each discrete modelling unit, and including references and inputs. Models must also be searchable by their domain and sub-domain. This impacts on the definition of the domain ontology being developed within the TaToo project.
JRC runs various analyses related to agriculture and climate for institutional customers. Thematic Maps are built as results of analyses and the capability of accessing and downloading these maps online is a requirement of our customers, and a request from other stakeholders involved. Even if the results of analysis are presented in reports, often many maps are not included and are hence made available separately. An example of report including thematic maps, and developed using the data and tool briefly described in the previous paragraphs, is visible at: http://mars.jrc.ec.europa.eu/mars/Projects/AVEMAC
Maps cannot however be published without articulated meta-information, which must declare basic data and also the conditions of the data modelling, which make explicit the assumptions behind the results shown. Maps are made available as static maps, and via a map server. The ones made available via the map server will reference, for each set of queries, to a unique RDF, whereas static maps will have each a dedicated RDF published.
Being the scenario about publishing, all use cases envisioned relate to two actors:
Resource Provider The publisher of a resource on the Web
Resource Consumer A third party discovering and accessing the resource
Use case 1: Building and publishing a new ontology
A resource provider has developed a new type of resource: he accesses a pre-existing ontology for resources description, stored on the TaToo server, and decides whether he wants to use the pre-existing domain ontology or request to integrate a new one to the TaToo server, publishing it on its own portal. In both cases an ontology, containing information to be used in the TaToo server to identify the resource, is used. The benefit is improved Web publication.
Use case 2: Building and publishing a new resource description in publisher’s portal
A resource provider creates meta-information for a resource: he builds a new RDF document, conforming to the ontology and describing the resource. The new RDF instance is built through a GUI which uses a component developed for the task (e.g. which uses reflection on existing software components) and optionally filling manually the missing meta-information. The new document is then included in the publishing medium (the portal) of the publisher. The benefit is improved Web publication.
Use case 3: Searching a resource in publisher’s portal
A resource consumer searches a resource published on the resource publisher's portal. Since each resource has been published and linked to an ontology whose concepts are used for describing it, the search criteria takes benefit from it, providing a search GUI suitable with the metadata made of ontology concepts. TaToo tagging of the specific resource, if available, must be shown on the publisher's portal. The benefit is an improvement in searching capabilities in the publishers’ portal.
Use case 4: Publisher’s portal links to evaluations on TaToo’s server
A resource consumer searches a resource published on the resource publisher's portal. If found resource has already been evaluated by other users, the publisher’s portal shows a link (to the TaToo server) with the already inserted evaluations. The benefit is an improvement in searching capabilities in the publishers’ portal.
Use case 5: On the Resource Evaluation Viewer, enter evaluation
A resource consumer searches the TaToo server with a specific tool (could be a dedicated viewer) for a resource. On the resource found, the relevant evaluation meta-information schema is used to populate grids, and allowing entering an evaluation for it. The benefit is an improved resource evaluation.
Use case 6: On the Resource Evaluation Viewer, view further information
A resource consumer searches the TaToo server with a specific tool (could be a dedicated viewer) for a resource. On the found resource, links to relevant TaToo linked resources, and to ontologies relevant to the resource itself, are shown. The benefit is an improvement in searching capabilities.
Use case 7: Searching a Software Resource by the output produced by the models contained in it
A resource consumer searches the TaToo search portlet for an output in the form of an Environmental Variable (e.g. Air Temperature, Relative Humidity and so on) published as a topic in the JRC domain ontology. The TaToo search portlet will display results, in the form of all Software Resources (DLL in the case of JRC) containing models that calculate the searched Environmental Variable. The benefit is an improvement in searching capabilities in the publishers’ portal.