Evolving and Sustaining Ocean Best Practices – Workshop III Proceedings Released

The oceans play a key role in global issues such as climate change, food security, and human health. Given their vast dimensions and internal complexity, efficient monitoring and predicting of the planet’s oceans must be a collaborative effort of both regional and global scale. The first and foremost requirement for such collaborative ocean observing is the need to follow well-defined and reproducible methods across activities: from strategies for structuring observing systems, sensor deployment and usage, and the generation of data and information products, to ethical and governance aspects when executing ocean observing. In this document, “ocean observing” are all activities of the value chain from preparing and conducting observations to impacts on society through applications of information. To meet the urgent, planet-wide challenges we face, methods across all aspects of ocean observing should be broadly adopted by the ocean community and, where appropriate, should evolve into “ocean best practices” or standards. 

The OBPS provides an opportunity space for the centralized and coordinated improvement of ocean observing methods. While many groups have created best practices, they are scattered across the Web or buried in local repositories and many have yet to be digitized. To reduce this fragmentation, there is now an open access, permanent, digital repository of best practices documentation (oceanbestpractices.org) that is part of the Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS). In addition to the repository, the OBPS includes a peer reviewed journal research topic, a forum for community discussion and a training activity for creating and using best practices. Together, these components serve to realize a core objective of the OBPS, which is to enable the ocean community to create superior methods for every activity in ocean observing from research to operations to applications that are agreed upon and broadly adopted across communities. 

The Ocean Best Practices Workshop has now become an annual event with Workshop I, Paris 2017 and Workshop II, Paris 2018. The 2019 Workshop III in Oostende encouraged maximum audience participation and was structured with hour-long panels followed by discussion. This format was effective in stimulating ideas and discussions to lay out a future vision of ocean best practices and how OBPS will contribute to improving ocean observing in the decade to come. 

Breakout Sessions were also a major part of the agenda, to provide opportunities for participants to share insights and importantly to make recommendations to the Panel on Vision for the Next Decade and ultimately the OBPS Steering Group.

The Workshop considered the vision for the next decade. The characteristics of this decadal vision were broad and reflect the technical and social aspects of bringing together the community and working toward broad interoperability through the use of Best Practices, Standards and other means. The “strawman” characteristics were:

  • Interoperability of data & knowledge & semantics
  • Fully FAIR and known Data
  • Excellent Data Management Plans
  • 100% clear Provenance where data comes from and where it is being used
  • Excellent Communication
  • Trust in data, scientists and the general
  • Value to Society

For interoperability, both data and knowledge interoperability (at all levels) needs to be part of the discussion. Additional facets of interoperability include legal interoperability, syntactic/semantic interoperability, etc. When we use the term interoperability does it mean for the ocean community or for the OBPS? It is both. We have an opportunity, to engage the different communities and challenge these communities about the availability of interoperable data within and across communities/disciplines to support outcomes reaching across the value chain. These use data interoperability as a “model” for a vision, but the characteristics are applicable to the Best Practices that cover the value chain from sensing to applications to societal impact.

For more details see the full workshop proceedings.