VVG project presented at 41st IAH International Congress

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Published by: Kirsten McKenna and Andrew MacLeod (07 Oct 2014)

The VVG project was presented by Dr Peter Dahlhaus at the 41st IAH International Congress, “Groundwater: Challenges and Strategies”, 15-19 September 2014, Marrakech, Morocco. Entitled ‘Creating Virtual Groundwater Research Laboratories through Interoperable Technologies’, the presentation was delivered under the ‘Tools and techniques for the investigation of groundwater resources’ theme. The PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here

Interoperable technology allows groundwater research to be incorporated with climate, soil, vegetation and history data, giving hydrogeologists unprecedented potential for making new research discoveries. There are essentially three types of interoperable spatial services:

  • Web Mapping Service (WMS) and Tiled Map Service (TMS) are the simplest and most prevalent. These technologies allow map layers to be shared with other websites and applications as static ‘tiled’ images. Basic querying functionality is available for WMS services.
  • Web Feature Service (WFS) are less common but more useful from a data-sharing perspective. WFS allows the raw data to be exchanged along with the spatial information. The most common WFS services provide a simple XML ‘feed’ of the spatial features based on the flat structure of the underlying spatial layer. While this is useful, it does not represent real-word relational data structures and requires the user of the service to understand and interpret the data schema.
  • Complex Feature Services allow for more detailed data structures to be represented and are often based on an ‘agreed-upon’ data standard. Data standards ensure that interoperable services provide data in a consistent and commonly understood format which can be machine-validated. This allows technicians to develop applications and visualisations which can consume data from multiple sources with a guarantee that the data will comply to the standard.

FedUni’s Dr Peter Dahlhaus has been closely involved with an international committee under the auspices of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) to develop a new standard for the exchange of groundwater information. The Groundwater Interoperability Experiment V2 has brought together a worldwide team of experts in both the science of Groundwater and information modelling to develop the new version of Groundwater Markup Language (GWML2).

“The purpose of this interoperability experiment (IE) is to develop an international information model, and GML appication schema, for groundwater data, by harmonizing and extending existing initiatives such as GWML, the INSPIRE Groundwater Model, and others. The IE was conceived during a session at the OGC Hydrology Domain Working Group workshop at Delft, April 12, 2011.”

After a detailed 12 month process of harmonising the existing models, agreeing on conceptual entities / properties and ensuring all of the use cases were catered for; the committee has made significant progress over recent months. The draft GWML2 logical model has now been released for review and comment here, which is a major step. The interoperability experiments now commence in earnest with FedUni being involved in two of the five proposed test use cases.

The environmental test use case on Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs) involves data from FedUni’s VVG initiative being used to demonstrate the conformance of groundwater data to the proposed standard via XML implementation and use of vocabularies.

FedUni will be one of the testbeds to test out the practical implementation of the GWML2 standard, particularly the environmental use case. The deployment of services which implement the standard will involve close collaboration with CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). Technical implementation will be based on CSIRO’s Spatial Information Services Stack (SiSS). Complex feature services will be deployed and tested for conformance with the GWML2 Schema in areas such as bore construction, water level and quality monitoring, groundwater flow and aquifer descriptions. 

Project funded by the State Government of Victoria - Broadband Enabled Innovation Program