River Basin Standards Interoperability Pilot (RiBASE)

There is a lot of water information and tools in Europe to be applied in the river basin management but fragmentation and a lack of coordination between countries still exists. The European Commission and the member states have financed several research and innovation projects in support of the Water Framework Directive. Only a few of them are using the recently emerging Hydrological standards, such as the OGC WaterML 2.0, and there is a lack of interoperability between tools making the adoption difficult and, as a result, many are rarely used after the end of the project. The purpose of this pilot was to assess the difficulty of applying OGC standards in the water community and to demonstrate their applicability. This pilot also helped in identifying potential gaps in OGC standards. The RiBase ‘sponsor’ was the WaterInnEU
project and the participants the project partners (albeit the pilot was open
for other to contribute in-kind).

The purpose of this experiment was to assess the
efficacy of Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards for describing status
and dynamics of surface water in river basins, to demonstrate their
applicability and finally to increase awareness of emerging hydrological
standards as WaterML 2.0. Also, this pilot was used to identify potential gaps
in OGC standards in water domain applications, applied to a flooding scenario
in present work. The proposed architecture for the pilot consisted of OGC
Sensor Observation Services, OGC Web Processing Services, a Publish/Subscribe
component that based on the recently published OGC Publish/Subscribe standard,
and of an OGC Web Feature Service for storing the flooded areas. The solution
was successfully tested in three transboundary river basins: Scheldt, Maritsa
and Severn.

In the experiment, some issues were identified from
which a set of recommendations were collected in the WaterInnEU deliverable D5.4 Interoperability
recommendations report (pending approval)
. Since the pilot was focusing on technical standards for geospatial
software interoperability, they do not contain recommendations related to
organisational structures, human procedures, etc. The target audience for this
recommendations are decision makers, data managers and model implementers with
a technical background. This recommendations may serve as input for
higher-level water management policies. Furthermore, some specific
recommendations for the standards used were given. The OGC may consider these
recommendations to improve the standards.

The pilot demonstrated that the usage of open
standards eases integration of different data sources and avoids technical
(syntactical) as well as semantic conflicts. However, a pre-requisite is that
data and models are open and accessible. Since observing and modelling our
environment is a complex task, the standards for representing the observations and
models are of a complex and generic nature. We hence recommend hiding the
complexity in the user interfaces, defining profiles of these standards for the
hydrology domain like already done with WaterML 2.0 and the SOS Hydrology
profile, and simplifying the implementation of Web clients by also providing
lightweight REST bindings for the service interfaces instead of the heavy
weight SOAP bindings. 

WaterInnEU is a Horizon 2020 project funded by the European Commission focused on creating a marketplace to enhance the exploitation of EU funded ICT models, tools, protocols and policy briefs related to water and to establish suitable conditions for new market opportunities based on these offerings.