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The ICEO Standards Working Group has published a report that addresses the features and behaviors that are desirable for an "acceptable" Earth observation data portal.  This report also addresses those things that are not desirable.  The report uses standards and best practices in the industry to support its conclusions.  A summary of this report is furnished below, while the full report is provided as an attchment to this page.  A new report is currently being worked on, and will include more items for decisions of "acceptability", an initial version of a metric for objectively and quantitatively determining "acceptability", and some case studies to support the metric.



Summary of the “Report on Earth Observation Portals"

The Earth Observation Portal Report is the result of research involving over 175 working examples of Earth Observation portals with the objective to establish a set of desirable characteristics for an Earth Observation portal. For each characteristic, supporting evidence for the conclusion is identified in the form of an existing standard or as the result of independent research. An important context for the work is to provide a synthesis of portal characteristics leading to general recommendations for GEO Web Portals.

The portal characteristics are broken down into three classes: general usability, adopted technology and desired functionality. Functionality is the overall driver with the features such as data search and data visualisation as required characteristics. Conclusions drawn from testing the existing sites combined with evidence in the supporting literature emphasize the need for on-site help and good access to supporting data by well designed navigation. Only with some degree of dedicated usability testing and communication with the target communities can this be achieved. Technological choices for web portals are dependent on the required performance, range of functions which need to be supported and the nature and distribution of the users and the client platforms available. It is essential that technological choices do not obstruct the access to information by the target user community.

The recommended characteristics described in the report were all considered desirable, but they were nevertheless categorized as Required, Strongly Suggested or Optional, allowing relative prioritisation to be made. In addition a set of characteristics to be avoided were identified and discussed.  The set of recommended characteristics is summarised in the following table:


Recommended Characteristics
  • Access to supporting data
  • Help
  • User testing included in portal development
  • Degradability
  • Content, spatial and temporal search
  • Data visualisation
Strongly Suggested
  • Consistency in look, feel, terminology and behaviour
  • Good response time
  • Browser based
  • Multi-lingual
  • Size management
  • News service
















Future versions of this report will build on the initial characteristics analysis, construct metrics for the quantitaive analysis of portals and identify best-case working examples.




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