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Interoperability Standards enhance public health research.

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June 25, 2008 - Relying on interoperability standards, Earth Observation Systems use meteorological data to predict outbreak of diseases, and have potential to prevent countless illnesses and deaths. Global Earth Observation System of Systems links planned and existing earth observations with one another, ensuring interoperability by promoting technical standards. These standards make certain that data collected from instruments worldwide can be combined into cohesive, comprehensive information set.

Enhancing Public Health Research: Interoperability Standards For Earth Observation Systems

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American National Standards Institute (ANSI)
11 West 42nd St., 13th Flr.
New York, NY, 10036

Press release date: June 19, 2008

The weather forecast may affect more than just your decision to take an umbrella with you in the morning. Scientists are developing a new system of using meteorological data to predict the outbreak of diseases. This innovative system, which has the potential to prevent countless illnesses and deaths worldwide, relies on interoperability standards to have its biggest impact.

Researchers posture that by combining different earth observation systems, such as those that focus on weather, climate, disasters, agriculture, and others, trends will emerge that can provide critical information on public health.

For example, studies have shown a relationship between the temperature of the Bay of Bengal and the outbreak of cholera in India. By monitoring and predicting the bay's temperature for the coming months and years, public health officials can work to educate and protect the population threatened by the outbreak before it begins.

Bringing together these diverse observation systems requires certain measures to ensure that they operate together successfully. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is dedicated to facilitating this interoperability through its Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). GEOSS addresses nine areas of focus that are significant for the world's population: disasters, health, energy, climate, agriculture, ecosystems, biodiversity, water, and weather.

This "system of systems" works to link planned and existing earth observations with one another, ensuring interoperability by promoting technical standards. These standards will make certain that the data collected from thousands of different instruments around the world can be combined into a cohesive, comprehensive information set. Through this resource, researchers will be better prepared to do everything from forecasting meningitis outbreaks to supporting disaster management.

GEOSS provides information about relevant standards in its Standards and Interoperability Registry, hosted by the IEEE Standards Association. With 102 standards from IEEE, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), NASA, and others, the registry is a growing resource that helps identify the existing and needed standards that contribute to the interoperability of all types of earth observation systems.

One standard listed in the registry is IEEE Std 1451.4-2004, IEEE Standard for a Smart Transducer Interface for Sensors and Actuators-Mixed-Mode Communication Protocols and Transducer Electronic Data Sheet (TEDS). Developed by IEEE, a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), this document facilitates the transfer of information received by analog transducers into digital information. This allows measurements such as voltage, water pressure, and air pressure collected as analog information to be entered into the GEOSS system for use with digital information in cross-sector research and analyses.

Another standard found in the GEOSS registry is ISO 19110:2005, Geographic information -- Methodology for feature cataloguing. This standard was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 211, Geographic information/Geomatics. The InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) serves as administrator for the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to TC 211.

This standard defines the methodology for cataloguing feature types in geographic information, and specifies how the classification of features is organized into a catalogue and presented in a data set. With a uniform method for cataloging geographic features, the data can be integrated into the GEOSS system for comparison to other earth data.

Voluntary consensus standards are playing an important role in the use of earth data for public health and safety. By ensuring interoperability and usability, standards bring scientists the information they need to protect the planet and the people who inhabit it.
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