Standard Process (up to July 2012)


The First Session of the IODE/JCOMM Forum on Oceanographic Data Management and Exchange Standards was held at the IOC Project Office (IODE-PO) for IODE, Oostende, Belgium between 21 and 25 January 2008. The meeting was organized because of the recognition that although there were mechanisms to help coordinate ocean data exchange, these had not resulted in the degree of agreement on a wide range of matters that are needed in order to allow the easy exchange and interoperability of data collected. This meeting was to initiate discussions on a limited set of topics for which it was felt that broad agreement was possible. A second objective was to discuss and if possible determine a way to establish an internationally recognized process for submitting proposed standards and their acceptance by the ocean community. The information contained in this document presents the results of those discussions.

The standards that are produced by this process are intended primarily for the use of the marine meteorological and oceanographic community. If they have wider applicability, they may be submitted to appropriate international standards bodies, such as ISO. However, after recommendation, their use will be widely encouraged within IOC and WMO.

Process description

The overall process is presented in figure 1. There are a number of steps in the process and a number of individuals and groups that have roles to play. These individuals and groups, and their roles and responsibilities are described here and in Appendix A.

Much of the activity related to submission and approval of the standard will take place electronically. There will be face to face meetings of the team responsible for guiding submissions through the process, but approval is not tied to this meeting schedule.

The process from submission through evaluation may result in a recommended standard for IOC and WMO member/member states. Documentation of the proposal and comments generated through the review will be available through a web site.

The entire process is intended to be limited to a maximum of no more than 8 months. Although the timing described in this document should result in a decision more quickly than this, there may be some time expended in identifying individuals to take part in the review.

There are expected to be circumstances of proposals sufficiently well prepared and tested or of an application of an existing international standard. In these cases, there is a fast track process that can be taken. The determination of whether the proposal meets fast tracking criteria occurs early and allows for a more rapid determination of suitability.

Polling of individuals and member/member states is an important part of the process. It is through such polling that it will be clear if there is wide spread support for a proposal. Polling will be conducted electronically, with a set period for response. No response will be interpreted as unopposed.


















Step 1: Submission of a proposal

A proposal to be presented to the IODE / JCOMM Standards Process can be prepared by any group within IODE and JCOMM, and by any member / member state of IOC and WMO. In addition, other groups that have interests in the management of marine meteorological and oceanographic data may submit proposals for consideration.

The scope of proposals should be related to collection, management and exchange of marine meteorological and oceanographic data between IOC and WMO member / member states. The emphasis is on improving the interoperability of data. As such, this would include:

  • Developing vocabularies that permit unambiguous and machine processable data and information descriptions.
  • Methods that encourage the convergence from multiple solutions to a problem, to fewer, more robust solutions
  • Well tested methods for managing data or information that if widely used would provide greater consistency in treatment.
  • Methods that can be used widely in the marine meteorological and oceanographic community.

In order for a proposal to be considered, it must be prepared using the template provided

Proposals should be submitted to the IOC PROJECT OFFICE FOR IODE (IODE-PO)
(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). They will be placed on the appropriate pages of the standards process web site maintained by the IODE-PO.

Step 2: Internal Review

The purpose of this step is to ensure that the proposal is complete and fully informative of what is being proposed. If information is lacking or the proposal is unclear, the proponent will be contacted and provided with comments about what changes are deemed necessary.

The internal review will be initiated by the IODE PO by sending a copy to members of the joint IODE/JCOMM Expert Team on Data Management Practices (ETDMP). Members will read the proposal and respond with comments within 15 days of notification. This review will examine the proposal and consider such questions as:

a. Is the purpose of the standard well defined and clear?
b. Is their sufficient detail in the proposal to allow for an expert review?
c. Is the proposal clearly written and complete?
d. Are there any obvious weaknesses?
e. Is there another competing potential standard that has equal merit?
f. Does this proposal address a pressing issue at this time?
g. Can the standard be applied widely by the IOC and WMO member / member states?
h. Is the proposal suitable for a fast track approach? Criteria to consider include:

i. Has the submission come from a formal group responsible for managing data affected by the proposal?
ii. Does the proposal recommend circumstances for the application of an existing standard?
iii. Is it likely that the appropriate members for the technical internal review will come from the same group that submit the proposal?

Responses will be collated by the IODE-PO based on above-mentioned structure, and reviewed by the chair of ETDMP. Based on comments received, the proponent will either receive notification that the proposal will be moved to “submitted” status, will receive the collated comments of the internal review so that the proposal can be amended, notified that the proposal will not be considered at this time, or the proposal will be fast tracked.

Proposals that meet criteria for fast tracking (Appendix C_(to be completed)) will be moved directly to “Proposed” status.

The proponents whose proposal requires changes will be given 15 days to respond with an amended proposal. If not met, the submission will be dropped from further consideration. If met, the proposal will once again go through internal review and either receive support to proceed or be dropped.

The comments will be placed on the appropriate pages of the standards process web site maintained by the IODE-PO and associated with the proposal. The outcome of the review will be clearly indicated.

Step 3: Expert Review

Moving a proposal to Expert Review changes its status to “Submitted”.

The first action is taken by the ETDMP. They must identify and recruit members of the expert team to examine the proposal. Members may be drawn from ETDMP itself, or may be requested from other groups of IODE and JCOMM. In some circumstances, team members may be drawn from outside these organizations, to be sure adequate technical background is available.

The ETDMP must then work with the expert team to develop appropriate criteria for the review. These will be used to guide the discussions.

The IODE-PO will establish an on-line forum for discussions of the expert team. This forum will be password protected and discussions will not be made public.

ETDMP will designate a “Moderator” for the review. This person may be a member of ETDMP or just of the expert team. Their role is to guide the review forward, ensuring that all discussions reach a conclusion and consensus is reached as possible.

The review should be conducted as expeditiously as possible. During the course of the review, the expert team, through the Moderator, may contact the proponent to clarify aspects. These exchanges should be minimized since if they become too frequent, it is an indication that the proposal has not been written clearly enough.

The Moderator should provide a brief monthly report to the chair of ETDMP. This report should summarize progress in the review and indicate what is left to do. The Moderator may poll expert team members at any time to determine if the proposal should pass to “Proposed” status. If the proposal achieves at least 75% support of respondents, the Moderator will propose to the chair of ETDMP that the proposal status be changed to “Proposed”.

At the end of 3 months, if no decision has been reached by the expert team, a poll of expert team members will be taken. If there is sufficient support of members that favour the proposal the recommendation will go to the chair of ETDMP to move the proposal to “Proposed” status.

If support is insufficient, the chair of the expert team will write a review of the discussions and provide this to ETDMP. These comments will go back to the proponent who will be given a period of 1 month to address the technical shortcomings. The revisions will be passed back to the expert team, to judge and make a decision. If not enough support is garnered in a subsequent poll, the chair of the expert team will summarize the shortcomings and report to the chair of ETDMP. The chair of ETDMP will notify the proponent, provide the report to them and invite them to revise and resubmit the proposal.

At the end of this step, the IODE-PO will close the internal forum and archive the discussions. The ETDMP will dissolve the expert team used in the internal review.

The comments will be placed on the appropriate pages of the standards process web site maintained by the IODE-PO and associated with the proposal. The outcome of the review will be clearly indicated.

Step 4: Community Review

Moving a proposal to Community Review changes the status to “Proposed”. This stage opens discussions up for wide community comment.

At this step the IODE-PO will undertake the following actions
a. It will open a public, on-line forum for discussion of the proposal.
b. It will use methods such as Circular Letters, emails, notices on web pages and other communications means to notify the public that the standard has been proposed.
c. It will provide the login information and invite comments for a period of 3 months.
d. It will invite interested parties to experiment with the proposed standard to assist in evaluating its utility.

The ETDMP will appoint a Moderator to guide the public discussion. In most cases, this would be the same person who played this role for the internal review, since they will know the previous discussions and so will be able to short cut discussions that do not progress the evaluation. The Moderator’s role is to foster discussion and evaluation. They should refrain from detailed explanations of the proposal since if this is required, it means the proposal is not clearly written or defined.

A poll to judge support for passing the proposal to “Recommended” status may be taken at any time, but will occur no earlier than 3 months after the proposal achieved “Proposed” status. All IODE and JCOMM member / member states will be polled with one vote per member. If the proposal attains 75% support of respondents, The Moderator will recommend to the chair of ETDMP that the proposal pass to the “Recommended” step.

If the proposal does not achieve sufficient support, the moderator will summarize the discussions of the forum, and provide a list of shortcomings identified. This will be provided to ETDMP.

ETDMP may decide:

  1. that the proposal should be returned to the proponent, along with the comments and an invitation to resubmit a modified proposal.
  2. to cease further consideration of the proposal in which case the proponent will be provided with the comments and decision.
  3. to suspend the proposal. Reasons for doing so may include that there has been insufficient testing performed, or that the proposal though sound, needs better clarity. The moderator will work with the proponent to improve the description, or identify means to conduct further tests. In no more than 3 months, the revised proposal, with perhaps new results from testing will again be put to a vote. If sufficient support is achieved, the proposal is recommended to the chair of ETDMP to pass to the “Recommended” stage, or is removed from the process.

At the end of this step, the IODE-PO will close the public forum and archive the discussions.

The comments will be placed on the appropriate pages of the standards process web site maintained by the IODE-PO and associated with the proposal. The outcome of the review will be clearly indicated.

Step 5: Recommended

Having achieved “Recommended” status, the standard will be widely advertised.

The IODE-PO will undertake the following actions:

  1. It will use methods such as Circular Letters, emails, notices on web pages and other communications means to notify member/member states of IOC and JCOMM that the standard has been recommended.
  2. It will provide the URL where information about the standard can be found
  3. It will invite all member/member states of IOC and JCOMM to implement the recommended standard as soon as feasible.
  4. It will establish a registry where member/member states can indicate when and in what circumstances they have achieved compliance with the recommended standard.

The chair of IODE and the chair of the DMPA will prepare appropriate resolutions on the use of the recommended standard to be submitted to parent bodies for ratification.

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