Architectural viewpoints and trends for the implementation of the environmental information space
Interoperability between environmental information systems across organisational, disciplinary and technological borders is one of the key challenges for both developers and stakeholders in the environmental domain. Stakeholders range from public authorities, private companies, consortia of environmental projects, thematic communities up to the citizen. The Single Information Space in Europe for the Environment (SISE) is a vision of the European Commission that promises to enable an easy-to-use but controlled and efficient collaboration between users and providers of environmental information and services. This paper approaches the SISE from an architectural point of view. It positions the SISE implementation problem within a research framework covering both the business and the technological aspects of large-scale environmental information systems. It presents existing and emerging reference models for open geospatial service-oriented architectures (SOA) based upon international standards as the currently established paradigm for distributed environmental applications. Furthermore, it describes selected architectural trends such as Web service paradigms, access control in geospatial SOAs and Semantic Web Services. It is expected that these trends, among others, will influence the discussion about suitable service and information infrastructures for the SISE in the next years. The paper concludes with an outline about the European support action GIGAS that is about to find harmonisation strategies for the different architectural frameworks in strategic European and world-wide initiatives such as INSPIRE, GMES and GEOSS.