Air Quality Information System and GEOSS: India Air Quality and CATHALAC Applications

From Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP)

< Air Quality Work Group | AQ Work Group Telecons

Implementing Organizations and Partners

Project team leaders’ name and contact information; - ESIP, Stefan Falke and Erin Robinson (Washington University), Ana Prados (UMBC/JCET), EPA, Virendra Sethi(CESE, IIT Bombay, Mumbai, India,, ???

The project will be coordinated by the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP). ESIP is a broad-based community drawn from agencies and individuals who collectively provide end-to-end handling for Earth science data and information. ESIP’s objective is to support the networking and data dissemination needs of its members and the global community by linking the functional sectors of observation, research, application, education and ultimate use of Earth science. An ESIP Air Quality Workgroup has been providing a forum for collaboration in air quality applications among government, university and industry participants and has been the basis of an evolving GEO Air Quality Community of Practice. The Air Quality Community of Practice would serve as a coordinating body for this project. The project leads will help initiate the project with the intent that new project participants will join the project as they see their roles and contributions to supplement the initial framework being developed.

The ESIP Air Quality Workgroup has been actively engaged in the development of a new GEO Air Quality Community of Practice that aims establish international partnerships in the exchange and use of air quality related data and information. As the CoP develops, we anticipate the proposed project to become one of the first collaborative activities of the CoP.

Initial Description of Problem and application of EO

Description of Problem

Air quality observation and modeling systems are normally created to meet a particular mandated end user need, such as support for regulatory requirements. The formats of the observation and modeling data tend to be specific to the use and the metadata that describe those data are focused on certain applications. However, there is an increasing desire for secondary uses and application of air quality data (EPA, 2009) aligned with the the GEOSS principle that ‘a single problem requires many datasets and a single dataset can serve many applications’ (Zhao, 2006).


Common Themes:

  • There is a need to integrate Global and local data from multiple sources (surface, satellite, model) to better describe Air Quality
  • Education/Workshops are needed to help the air quality community to share data through GEOSS, search and find AQ data for AQ decisions through GCI and Community Portals.
  • Existing efforts provide an opportunity to leverage tools and methods developed in pilot, workshops Ana has already developed for these activities.

Application in India

(Provided by Ratish Menon and Virendra Sethi, CESE, IIT Bombay)
Air quality monitoring and management in India have gained importance ever since the Government of India enacted the Air (Prevention and Control) Act 1981. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) are responsible for managing air quality at national and state levels respectively. The ground based monitoring networks in India include the National Ambient Monitoring Programme (NAMP) network operated under the guidelines of Central Pollution Control Board, state level air monitoring networks operated by respective State Pollution Control Boards, and other networks operated by universities and/or research groups. NAMP network consists of 342 operating stations covering 127 cities/towns in 26 states and 4 Union Territories of the country. All these stations monitor Sulphur Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2), Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) and Suspended Particulate Matter (SPM) every third day. Monitoring stations provide point measurements, and are inadequate to provide a synoptic view of air quality at a regional scale. The goal of the proposed GEO project is to use the GEOSS CGI with the AIP-AQ information infrastructure to supplement the surface monitoring data with remotely sensed data.

Improving Decision support through an AQ Information System


Publish: Initially it was thought that if one “published” data on the web in any format that was enough for sharing. Then it became obvious that if you wanted to integrate datasets that standard data access formats were useful and publication meant that one exposed a standard data access service available on the web. Through the Pilot (AIP-2) it became apparent that just exposing the data access service with a GetCapabilities document doesn’t provide enough metadata for discovery and additional standard metadata needs to be published by the provider or distributor for discovery of the service, so the AQ metadata record and the AQ Community Catalog were created.

The services we initially registered for the AIP-2 Pilot are OGC WMS and WCS services. These services have a GetCapabilities document with some metadata information included and can be mapped to ISO 19115 fields (Nativi, 2008). ISO 19115 fields are....To further improve the use of GetCapabilities documents for metadata creation, we have organized data access services by dataset, so that the general metadata information is dataset specific such as coverages for each dataset parameter. Only a handful of additional fields are needed to create a valid metadata record and these can be hard coded or entered at the time ofregistration.

Figure X. shows the flow of metadata. Starting with the service provider, the GetCapabilities document is used to create an ISO 19115 metadata record for the data access service. The xml document is saved into the community catalog. The community catalog is registered as a component in the GEOSS Component and Service Registry (CSR). The GEOSS Clearinghouses query the GEOSS CSR for catalogs and then harvest the catalogs for their metadata records, ending the metadata publishing process.

Figure X. Publish-Find-Bind process for data access services from service provider to service user

Find: In order to find the data access services in the clearinghouse one has to know what to search for. The clearinghouse queryable fields and metadata fields were mapped in a crosswalk to clarify how information was extracted from the harvested metadata records. The key queries we have been interested in so far are for finding our own records, through the parent identifier and searching for services by type and keyword.

The ESRI and USGS clearinghouses expose a search API which has enabled the AQ group to create a more customized search interfaces. One example interface that we have set up is using the USGS API and searching full text in order to find WMS or WCS services (Ref link).

Bind: Once the user has found the dataset of interest the next step is to bind to the dataset (Fig. 2) and display the data access service through the tool of choice. Each service is described in the metadata record with its GetCapabilities URL. Through preliminary testing with WMS services, the Compusult Clearinghouse is able to bind to the GetCapabilities URL found in the metadata record and display a WMS instance of the map.

AQ and GEOSS Workshops

We also propose to incorporate training on the use of GEO Portals as part of this effort. This activity would build on existing training activities on access, visualization and interpretation of Earth Science Remote sensing data for air quality event analysis [Ref. Stressa training]. Either in conjunction with these efforts, or as a separate effort, these trainings would provide end users of air quality datasets with the basics skills needed for searching the GEOS clearing house, etc., [more later].

The ultimate goal is to help end users search and use local and global air quality data available through GEOSS to improve decision making.

Intended beneficiaries and anticipated benefits and improvements;


(Provided by Ratish Menon and Virendra Sethi, CESE, IIT Bombay)
Recent developments in the earth observation (EO) systems provide an excellent opportunity to integrate satellite data with surface measurements to support decision making processes for air quality management. Presently, these earth observation data are under-utilized for air quality management in India, and by and large restricted to the research community [1, 2, 3]. Information systems (IS) are a need of the hour to empower the air quality managers and policy makers in decision making on air quality issues. The opportunity to find and access heterogeneous air quality data for view, process, overlay and display can give another dimension to the air quality management in the country. The work proposed is to develop an integrated air quality information system for (regional applicatioins?) in India, similar to DataFed [4], which can then be linked to GEOSS Common Infrastructure (GCI) as Provider/user [5]. A preliminary frame work for the proposal is represented in Figure 1. The beneficiaries of this project would be CPCB, SPCBs, Research community and other GEOSS service sharing groups.

Project Approach

  • Community Building
    • Identification of stake holders and mobilisation of resources
    • Holding workshops and capacity building
    • Engage providers for accessing data
    • Work with stakeholders in defining useful applications
    • Identifying opportunities to sustain the air quality infrastructure
  • Development of air quality information infrastructure
    • Creation of web service interfaces, based on OGC standards (WMS, WFS, WCS) and perhaps others?
    • Registration of web services in air quality community catalog and GEOSS CGI registry
    • Access of services through GEOSS Clearinghouse
    • Use of accessed services for analysis, fusion and visualization based on the defined needs of stakeholders
  • Prototyping and demonstration
    • Demonstration of prototype applications and workshops for using the infrastructure

Assuming adequate levels of support for the project team, we plan for a 2-year effort in 4 phases.

  • Phase 1 (3 months) - community building, engaging stakeholders and partners and identifying available data for the use in the prototype and where those data nodes will be maintained for the India air quality network
  • Phase 2 (9 months) - creating and testing standard web service interfaces to the data and in ensuring access to already existing services, and the registration of the services in an air quality community web catalog connected with the GEOSS GCI.
  • Phase 3 (9 months) - application development and coordination with decision support processes
  • Phase 4 (3 months) - demonstration of prototype to multiple air quality audiences and conducting workshops for learning how to work with the air quality infrastructure

Level of Experience/Assistance Needed

The project team is diverse with some members bringing air quality science and management expertise, others bringing remote sensing earth observation expertise, and others providing information system expertise. GEO assistance is sought for identifying additional partners for the project, including data providers with whom the project team is not yet familiar.

While some of the effort in the project leveraged through synergies with existing or anticipated future funded efforts, we will also be requesting dedicated funding for the proposed project. The scope of the project will be defined by the availability of adequate financial resources and the plan outlined here assumes additional financial support.


A Concept Proposal contains necessarily the following information to support the evaluation:

  1. project team leader’s name and contact information;
  2. implementing organizations and partners;
  3. initial description of project concept, including description of the decision or problem needing improvement and the application of Earth observations, data, or model products;
  4. intended beneficiaries and anticipated benefits and improvements;
  5. anticipated duration of project; and
  6. level of experience with Earth observations and type of assistance requested (if any).

These Concept Proposals are intended as a way to minimize initial efforts of project teams so that only projects of interest will prepare Full Proposals. However, the Concept Proposals need to contain sufficient information to enable the review panels’ evaluation and GEO support to the projects.

This section describes the main objectives of the project. It describes the proposed activities, technical approach, and methodology to apply Earth observations to improve the decision making. It describes efforts to transition results and ensure the sustained use of the Earth observations after the completion of the project.

CFP supports projects connecting the parts of this diagram to demonstrate societal benefits from Earth observations and GEOSS.
GEOSSUIC Diagram.png

  • Special focus on projects helping end users apply Earth observations, especially users in developing countries
  • Can include training/workshop ideas.