The National Oceanographic Data Centre is the Italian reference in the International Oceanographic Data Exchange System of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The Centre manages the largest multidisciplinary archive in Italy of information on the coastal and offshore marine environment.
The Data Centre is responsible for the management and free redistribution of marine data from the national and international scientific community, as well as from various other sources, from the civil and business sectors. The database contains more than 300 thousand profiles of the water column, from the surface to the bottom, with surveys of physical and biogeochemical variables.
The activity mainly concerns:
- the collection, preservation, cataloguing of oceanographic data, standardisation of formats and QA/QC procedures;
- the development of information systems for access to data and metadata;
- the maintenance and implementation of the content distribution and display portal;
- the creation of innovative graphic products, based on the analysis of marine data, whose purpose is to provide basic information on the state of the marine environment, in accordance with European directives, in particular the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (EU MSFD, 2008/56/EC).
The Data Centre contributes to the following aims of Open Science in international marine strategies:
- Open data and knowledge: the Centre makes data retrievable, accessible, interoperable and reusable, in line with FAIR principles, through international collaborations and projects, expanding the multidisciplinary nature of its action, both in terms of parameters considered and skills employed, and increasing the amount of experimental information archived.
- Open source: the Centre develops and promotes open software and e-infrastructures to enable the scientific community to share and process data and research results across scientific boundaries and domains.
- Open and Reproducible Research: the Centre develops and makes freely accessible guidelines for the open management of public data on marine water quality.
- Research integrity: The Centre defines and uses open data policies for data collected under institutional programmes, supported by the possibility of releasing DOIs, while respecting intellectual property.
- Citizen Science: the Data Centre makes available at European level data collected by citizens through open applications developed in favour of citizen science, i.e. all initiatives aimed at promoting the recognition of citizens as valid producers of scientific knowledge.
The Data Centre participates in the Italian Computing and Data Infrastructure (ICDI) working group, created by representatives of some of the main Italian Research and Digital Infrastructures, with the aim of promoting synergies at national level in order to optimise Italian participation in the current European challenges in this field, including: European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), European Data Infrastructure (EDI), and High Performance Computing (HPC).
It chairs the Data Management Working Group of the EMSO-Italy Joint Research Unit, a coordination structure between national research institutes and universities sharing human resources and equipment to monitor the Italian coastline and open sea. The aim of the Working Group is to collect, make accessible and exploit the EMSO-Italia data and to facilitate their integration with the data and information produced through the European infrastructure EMSO-ERIC.
The Data Centre's information system is integrated into the pan-European SeaDataNet infrastructure for integrated marine data management, which connects more than 100 national oceanographic data centres.
The Centre manages the collection of European marine litter data from MSFD monitoring, through the development and maintenance of 3 databases, unique to Europe. The Data Centre organises activities to capitalise on and promote the results of various international projects, involving EU and non-EU stakeholders and end-users, to foster dialogue on the challenges of marine pollution data management.
On a global scale, it participates in the Transparent and Accessible Seas and Oceans activities (linked to the UN Decade for Ocean Sciences) and in the regular meetings of the expert groups engaged in building global data platforms to support the sea-related goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Data Centre is a reference point for marine litter data management beyond the EU, participating in the work of the G20 technical group engaged in the global uniformity of monitoring and data management of marine plastics. It works with The National Marine Data and Information Service of China to strengthen the interoperability of marine water quality data between Europe and China.