INSPIRE WCS: Live and Hands-On in Helsinki

Peter Baumann, german INSPIRE delegate presented WCS at the Helsinki INSPIRE workshop.

November 2019. "WCS is the natural way to deliver and exploit coverage data" - this insight shared by INSPIRE orthoimage and elevation data cluster facilitator, Jordi Escriu from ICGC (Cartographic and Geological Institute of Catalunya/Spain) was brought to life at the hands-on WCS/WCPS workshop held in Helsinki/Finland.

Coverage based data models are foreseen in a wide spectrum of INSPIRE Themes as an interoperable way for providing raster data exploitation-ready in Annex II (Elevation, Land Cover, Orthoimagery, Geology) and Annex III (Soil, Land Use, Natural Risk Zones, Atmospheric Conditions, Meteorological Geographical Features, Oceanographic Geographical Features, Energy Resources). The OGC / INSPIRE Web Coverage Service (WCS) standards suite defines services on such spatio-temporal sensor, images (timeseries), simulation, and statistics data. In practice, coverages often represent "Big Earth Data". Unfortunately, the way the coverage based INSPIRE data models have been crafted, their structure precludes provision via WCS.

The WCS workshop held in Helsinki this October was prepared and held by a team of three key INSPIRE and coverage experts: Jordi Escriu (ICGC Spain) facilitates INSPIRE Thematic Cluster 3, Orthomagery and Elevation; Kathi Schleidt (DataCove E.U.) facilitates Thematic Cluster 4, Observations and Measurements; and Peter Baumann (rasdaman GmbH and Jacobs University) is OGC/ISO coverage standards editor and German INSPIRE delegate. This team has been working for several years on aligning INSPIRE and OGC/ISO coverage services; at the workshop they presented their findings. Kathi Schleidt explained, "We have found a way to represent and serve INSPIRE coverages in an OGC-compliant manner".

Utilizing NCGC Catalunya’s data in a rasdaman server, live demos based on orthoimagery, false color imagery, elevation data, and land cover data performed retrieval ranging from WCS Core up to WCPS analytics. Scripts were provided to the participants, allowing them to run and modify the requests on their laptops. This convincingly motivated WCS suitability for any kind of geospatial raster data, showed the benefits of modelling raster data as coverages, and the power of WCPS for spatio-temporal analytics.

Attendees were impressed by the simplicity provided and the opportunities offered by WCS, while conforming to both INSPIRE metadata and OGC WCS requirements. Kathi Schleidt emphasized that a straightforward integration of coverages with observations measurements is possible, allowing the provision of different aspects of the same data sets through WCS and SOS simultaneously. Following the success of the workshop, the demo service as well as the scripts created for demonstration purposes will be made publicly available and will be enhanced continuously as a service to the community.

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