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Unpacking the SAEON data portal

- Wim Hugo, Systems Engineer, SAEON

The SAEON Data Portal has been designed to serve the stakeholder community with which SAEON engages as a resource for the referencing, discovery and optional archiving of relevant data sets and information objects.

All potential data providers are encouraged to contact Wim Hugo, Victoria Goodall, Gavin Fleming or Wayne Goschen in this regard.

SAEON can assist with:

  • guidelines in respect of selection of meta-data standard and the supporting open source software
  • creation of meta-data
  • guidelines in respect of applicable standardised data standards and services
  • hosting or archiving of data in most circumstances


The Portal is ready for wider implementation, following on a period of evaluation and refinement. The Portal is hosted on a shared platform that also currently includes SAEOS , the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas and a prototype World Data Centre for Biodiversity and Human Health in Africa (WDCBHH). This shared platform allows for economy of scale and mutual benefit from joint development.

In the recent past, the development programme has extended the platform to accommodate a range of meta-data standards (ISO19115, SANS 1878, EML, Dublin Core, and FGDC), and to allow automated harvesting of such meta-data from repositories offered by data providers and stakeholders.

In addition, the platform contains an OpenLayers-based mapping component, capable of constructing map views from distributed sources, persisting those views for logged-in users, and dynamically searching a GEOSS-compliant CSW-KVP service for new layers to include into the map. For this component, USGS is assisting with evaluation and testing, and it is envisaged that the finished component will be registered in the GEOSS repository.

The platform is being prepared for GEOSS integration through the development of GEOSS-compliant meta-data services. These services will become operational within the next three months, allowing other GEOSS components to harvest from the collective meta-data catalogue of all the combined initiatives. The services will be added to the GEOSS registry.

Services include the in-situ observations emanating from SAEON and its stakeholders, the contributions of the CSIR’s Satellite Applications Centre (SAC), the biodiversity and downscaled climate change sets contained in the South African Risk and Vulnerability Atlas, in-situ demography, and many more.

A comprehensive list of the stakeholder engagement can be found here, and most available meta-data will be uploaded for operational use during the latter half of June and early July 2010.

Access to data sets is determined by the preferences of the provider community, and can range from the ideal situation of open, automated standards-compliant services (such as WFS/WMS and NetCDF) through download links or redirection to provider-determined websites.

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